A Turf Moor night to savour against Spurs
What a night it was with a Ben Mee goal giving us a 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur as we recorded successive Premier League wins for the first time since January of last year.
This was no fluke win; this was fully deserved and it’s seems a long, long time since I left the Turf amidst such a buoyant group of home fans unaware that, as we left, the likes of Harry Kane and Eric Dier were still whinging on the pitch while their manager Antonio Conte was still to have his say on the whole situation at that club.
Winning any game in the Premier League is up there. This was our 79th such success with 49 of those at home, but there is no doubt that I, and I’m sure most Clarets, enjoy getting one over on one of the perceived big six. It’s the tenth time we’ve achieved that with Spurs counting for three of them.
Let’s set the scene. It was wet, it was windy and it was cold. Nothing changed there then. That’s how it’s been for the last four home games and it seems all I do now is go to the Turf, go home and dry my clothes before going back to the Turf. I’m not sure where it fell compared to the three previous home games but I’d suggest it wasn’t as bad as Watford.
Conte, last seen dancing down the touchline at the Etihad, named an unchanged team from the one that had just beaten Manchester City and that outlined what a tough ninety minutes we were set for.
They went straight on the attack too and won two corners within the first two minutes, one on either side. That was a worrying start but by the time the clock had reached four minutes, we’d won two corners of our own and kicked off a first half in which we were the better side.
Although we didn’t create too much in the way of clear chances, we gave the Spurs defence a real examination. Josh Brownhill, with a shot from around the edge of the box, came as close as anyone only for Hugo Lloris to save. Brownhill, and his midfield partner Jack Cork were running the show at times and the two wide players, Aaron Lennon and Dwight McNeil, were causing Spurs a lot of problems. The two strikers, Wout Weghorst and Jay Rodriguez, were working their socks off and were a real threat.
It wasn’t quite like that and almost immediately we were close to falling behind when Kane headed against the bar. Had Nick Pope got a touch? It looks not but it was a bit of an escape as Spurs started the second half well.
Both Mee and Rodriguez saw headers saved by Lloris, the second of them a very good save, but Spurs had a spell mid-half when we were forced into some defending, and defend we did. We had to.
Pope saved well to deny Spurs on one occasion but probably the one chance that had us breathing a huge sigh of relief came when Son Heung-min set up Dejan Kulisevski. The young Swede, on loan from Juventus, fired his cross shot just wide of the left hand post.
The decibel level inside the Turf lifted like we know it can and now we had a lead to protect for the final nineteen minutes plus stoppage time. I’ve never quite worked out why, but at 0-0 I was quite relaxed, suddenly at 1-0 I was a bundle of nerves.
Pope did have one save to make but generally I needn’t have got too anxious and the nearest we came to another goal was when first Mee, twice, and then Rodriguez, could, and probably should, have scored a second.
Spurs didn’t like it did they? When Jon Moss stepped forward to indicate there would be three minutes of stoppage time it wasn’t appreciated by Conte who looked ready to take on Moss. Who does Conte think he is? Sir Alex Ferguson? Three minutes was more than generous.
Desperate to make use of the facilities, I rushed from my seat at the final whistle, well as rushed as I can do now. I saw the Spurs ranting start but I missed the on pitch celebrations from our players. I’ve seen them since on television and their smiles their joy was every bit as much as I was showing as I made my way out.
Those players were letting us know how much it means to them. Six of that starting eleven last night, plus the one substitute used, are out of contract in just a few months time but they were showing us just how much they care about our football club and keeping it in the Premier League.
Hopes weren’t high a week ago but it’s amazing what two wins can do. We moved ahead of Norwich last Saturday and last night moved in advance of Watford. That’s not the key though. If we are to survive we must stay ahead of those two and we must get ahead of one more. Newcastle and Everton are now just two points ahead of us, Leeds have a three point advantage while Brentford’s lead on us is four points. All but Everton have played more games than us.
What a place the Turf is when it’s like that and the team play as we did last night and get that result.
It’s Palace next and we still have some work to do if we are to be playing Premier League football next season. My word, this week has given us a chance of that.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Josh Brownhill, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Wout Weghorst (Ashley Barnes 89), Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Matt Lowton, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, Kevin Long, Bobby Thomas, Dale Stephens, Lewis Richardson.
Tottenham: Hugo Lloris, Cristian Romero, Eric Dier, Ben Davies, Emerson Royal (Lucas Moura 65), Rodrigo Bentancur (Harry Winks ht), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Ryan Sessegnon (Steven Bergwijn 79), Dejan Kulusevski, Son Heung-min, Harry Kane. Subs not used: Brandon Austin, Matt Doherty, Sergio Reguilόn, Davinson Sánchez, Joe Rodon, Dane Scarlett.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).