The wait for a win goes on
As we moved into the last minute of normal time, it looked all but certain that we’d finally ended our run of games without a win as we led Southampton 1-0, that was until they scored a late equaliser to take the score to 1-1 and leave us still waiting for our first victory since mid-December when we beat Stoke 1-0 at home.
There was an element of controversy about the goal. There is no doubt that referee Bobby Madley was the main cause for Southampton gaining possession when he blocked off Ashley Westwood, and there were suggestions of a foul on Kevin Long as Manolo Gabbiadini fired home the goal although I think a free kick in our favour would have been a harsh one on Southampton.
Three minutes of stoppage time followed and that included a shout for a penalty. I’m far convinced of that either but, in any case, we don’t get penalties when the incident is clear.
That meant more frustration for the Clarets and while we were nowhere near our best, we were the better side on the day and should have won the game. The previous home game against Manchester City had also ended 1-1. That was a point gained but this one was very much two points dropped.
There were positive noises of players coming back from injury for this game but in truth it was a case of more injuries. Scott Arfield was ruled out with a calf problem, manager Sean Dyche was hampered in the technical area with a ruptured thigh quad sustained in Portugal and even I required a late fitness after a fall at home although I don’t think it was one I was ever going to fail.
I walked down Harry Potts Way yesterday ahead of the game, from the Wellington to the Park View. I know we are never going to be one of the big flash clubs in the Premier League, but what a depressing walk it is.
There are the anti-terrorist barriers being put in place, there are so many stewards and police around the away fans entrance it makes you wonder what they think of a trip to Burnley, up on the back of the stand remain those old 2009 Sky adverts and then you’ve got the boarded up Park View. I have to say that the pub actually looks better boarded up than it did when in use but at least, when open, the view of it was masked by the many people stood outside. Still, there were the first twelve Turf Moor Heroes to look at, from Jerry Dawson to John Connelly and at least the sun was shining.
Back to those injuries and Sean Dyche’s team changes. Stephen Ward was back. He was on the bench at Swansea but was recalled to the starting line up. It was one of two changes with Sam Vokes making way for Ashley Westwood after playing 4-4-2 in the previous two games. There were bench returns for both Dean Marney and Chris Wood.
It was time to take my seat. There had been warnings to get the thermals out for a cold afternoon but the only problem the weather was to cause us was having to shield the sun from our eyes throughout the game. It was almost spring like sat in the sun in the Longside although, at times, it did make it difficult, when the players were side on, to differentiate between the two kits.
The first half, as it happens, was largely uninspiring stuff. Southampton probably started the brighter of the two sides but that lasted for only a few minutes and then we looked by far the more likely. Even so, there was little action at either end and chances were few and far between. Ben Mee got in an early block and Nick Pope really only had one routine save to make whilst at the other end our two best opportunities fell to Aaron Lennon; Alex McCarthy saved his first but the second one was blocked.
It was no surprise that there were no goals at half time but the real positive was that this Southampton side didn’t really look as though they were going to cause us too much trouble. That changed, albeit briefly, at the start of the second half. They seemed to come out with a different approach but again it didn’t last very long and soon we were very much the brighter of the two teams.
Jeff Hendrick and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson both had half chances and then Ashley Barnes had the best chance of the game heading a superb cross from Westwood wide of the right hand post.
You sensed a goal might come and just a couple of minutes later it did. A combination of Hendrick, Westwood and Jack Cork won the ball back for us which finally reached Lennon on the left flank. His cross beyond the far post was excellent but that’s when we may have got a bit of good fortune. Guðmundsson met the cross and volleyed back in only for McCarthy to get a hand to it. Had he not done so there is every chance it would have gone harmlessly across goal, but it went in the air and Hendrick headed it forward for Barnes to dive in and head home. Match of the Day, with their usual ‘Let’s not give Burnley any credit’ agenda, tried to point out that he’d put it in with his arm. It maybe hit his arm but that was about it.
For the next few minutes we gave it a real go with Southampton having only one real effort and that’s when they broke up our attack and countered quickly for substitute Josh Sims to fire in a shot that Pope brilliantly saved via his left hand post. Apparently, Sims is still to score a Premier League goal; he’ll not like the Turf, last season he was denied by a brilliant Tom Heaton save right at the end after Heaton had initially saved from Jay Rodriguez.
We thought Lennon might be getting clear again down the left but this time McCarthy rushed out to deny him at the cost of a throw in. There was a consideration that the goalkeeper might have handled outside the box. He had, any further and he’d have been in the recently repositioned fanzone. I’m not one to defend referees but when shown on television it is clear that he couldn’t possibly have known from the angle he had.
That, I thought, was that, and in my head I was preparing a report on our first win since we beat Stoke. Then, in the 90th minute it all went wrong when a routine pass from Barnes to Westwood didn’t make it because referee Madley blocked off the Burnley midfielder. From there Southampton got the ball out to the right, crossed it beyond the far post and when it came back in it was Gabbiadini who scored.
The crowd reacted, the booing was almost as strong as some of the constant criticism of the team we get on the message board once a game hasn’t ended in victory. The players surrounded Madley with Barnes getting a yellow card.
Watching it again, you do think that he could have got out of the way but I think he just froze when he realised the situation. From thereon in there was nothing he could do and no way was that a foul on Long. The goal had to stand.
We played around four and a half minutes of stoppage time. Cork did head a ball into the box and Barnes went down, but it looks Barnes initiated to me and again there was no decision for us. Let’s face it, we don’t get banged to rights penalties so we are not going to get a dodgy one.
That was it, another draw, another game without a win and now the longest run of league games without victory in the Dyche era beating the ten games at the start of the 2014/15 season. It’s only one game short of our longest without a win in the Premier League, that coming in 2009/10 season, the last nine games of Owen Coyle’s time as Burnley manager followed by the first three under Brian Laws.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Charlie Taylor, Dean Marney, Georges-Kévin NKoudou, Sam Vokes, Chris Wood.
Yellow Card: Ashley Barnes.
Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Cédric Soares, Jack Stephens, Wesley Hoedt, Ryan Bertrand, James Ward-Prowse (Josh Sims 68), Oriol Romeu (Sofiane Boufal 75), Dusan Tadic (Manolo Gabbiadini 81), Mario Lemina, Nathan Redmond, Guido Carrillo. Subs not used: Fraser Forster, Pierre-Emile Højberg, Jan Bednarek, Jéré my Pied.
Referee: Bobby Madley (Ossett).
Attendance: 20,982 (including 1,086 from Southampton).
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