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1718 burnley turf moor 07 1000x500The first home game of the new Premier League season didn’t get off to the sort of start we all wanted with Watford coming to Turf Moor and taking all three points with a 3-1 win, only their third win ever at Burnley.

Four goals, all of them coming in the first six minutes of each half, with three of them going past Joe Hart saw them claiming a second successive victory having beaten Brighton at home last season. By the end of the game, I don’t think anyone could deny they were deserving winners but, likewise, I don’t think many would have predicted a Watford win at half time with Burnley having been the better side.

There is usually a buzz around the place for the first home game of the season. That seemed to be missing yesterday, partly, I suspect, due to us having already played twice at home in the Europa League qualifiers. However, there will be some real concern in the corridors of power at Turf Moor that, despite our seventh place finish last season, the attendance at the game was the lowest for a Premier League game since Crystal Palace’s visit not too far short of a year ago.

It was hardly start of the season weather and very similar to Southampton a week earlier. Where usually we kick off in blazing sunshine, it was typically Burnley, damp with always the threat of rain. One thing that hadn’t changed was the team; Sean Dyche made the same changes in reverse that he’d made last Thursday and we lined up just as we’d done at Southampton.

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Andre Gray was in the Watford side. That immediately caused concern for some who seem to think ex-Clarets always score against us. Gray didn’t score last season and for what it’s worth, neither did Charlie Austin or Jay Rodriguez. Neither Austin nor Ings scored last week.

So was there anything to worry about? I’m afraid so. After a blistering start from Watford it was Gray who gave them a third minute lead. They’d already frightened us to death in a couple of attacks; Stephen Ward ended the second with a brilliant block, but then he got on the end of a Troy Deeney cross to fire home on the volley. It wasn’t a typical Gray goal but it was a really good finish.

It was, incredibly, Watford’s first goal away from home since 2nd January and that too was scored by Gray in a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United.

What a horrible start it was and we needed to do something about it very quickly. Thankfully we did. On six minutes, from a right wing Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson corner, James Tarkowski got highest to draw us level, heading in his first ever Burnley goal. He hasn’t scored since 8th August 2015 when both he and Gray scored stoppage time goals to earn Brentford a home point against Ipswich.

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For much of the remainder of the first half there seemed little to concern us. Joe Hart did have one save to make but we were the better side. We caused them so much problem getting the ball wide to put crosses into the box. Ben Foster, at times, looked all at sea, but they survived it all. Foster also saved a Guðmundsson free kick and then, with the referee looking at his watch, he parried a ball across from Jeff Hendrick which they were then able to scramble away just as Chris Wood moved in.

It was all square at the interval and, to be honest, I had no real concerns going into the second half. I did think we were better than they were and that we’d go on and win it. Just over five minutes later I was having a rethink as Watford went 3-1 up with two good goals.

Just after the restart, Deeney saw a shot from outside the box blocked by Ben Mee. The ball fell to Abdoulaye Doucouré and his pass back in between Mee and Stephen Ward was perfect for Deeney who finished comfortably.

If that was bad enough, three minutes later, Will Hughes hammered in an unstoppable shot after an uncharacteristic mistake from Matt Lowton who gave the ball away with a wayward pass inside from the right touchline.

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Things didn’t look too good at this point. There were 39 minutes left and we were 3-1 down. And in truth nothing much improved for the remainder of the game. Much of the credit for that is down to the way Watford set up. They knew all they had to do to win the game was contain us and that’s exactly what they did.

With twenty minutes remaining, Dyche brought on Ashley Barnes’ five minutes later and Sam Vokes was introduced, but neither had any sort of impact on the game as we desperately searched for a goal that might get us back into the game.

Long before the end it looked certain that there would be no fight back and there wasn’t. What should have been a half time lead, what should have been a game that we could win, ended in a 3-1 defeat, the first time we’ve conceded three at home since the Harry Kane hat trick last December.

It was a real disappointment from a game we could perhaps have expected to get something from, but it wasn’t to be and on a day when the crowd failed to lift us, you couldn’t in the end suggest Watford hadn’t deserved the three points.

It’s back to the Europa League now and the first leg of the play-off against Olympiacos in Greece before a trip to newly promoted Fulham. This was an uncharacteristic performance defensive wise after three clean sheets. We need to get back to keeping those clean sheets in these two away games.

The teams were;

Burnley: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward (Charlie Taylor 74), Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jeff Hendrick (Sam Vokes 70), Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes 65). Subs not used: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson.
Yellow Card: Stephen Ward.

Watford: Ben Foster, Daryl Janmaat Craig Cathcart, Christian Kabasele, José Holebas, Will Hughes (Kiko Femenía 83), Abdoulaye Doucouré, Étienne Capouè, Roberto Pereyra, Andre Gray (Ken Sema 68), Troy Deeney (Isaac Success 89). Not used: Heurelho Gomes, Sebastian Prödl, Adrian Mariappa, Adam Masina.
Yellow Cards: Will Hughes, Daryl Janmaat.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).

Attendance: 18,822.

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