And the wait goes on
Burnley won another point last night from a 2-2 draw at Rotherham which now leaves us requiring a maximum of three more points to be crowned champions.
It was the second away draw in three days following the 0-0 result at Reading but this was a very different kind of game and it was one that we really should have won, more so having twice taken the lead.
With the manager making three changes from that which lined up at Reading, changes that brought Ian Maatsen, Vitinho and Anass Zaroury into the starting team for Charlie Taylor, Manuel Benson and the injured Nathan Tella.
Scott Twine scored his second Burnley goal midway through the first half to give us the lead only for our hosts to equalise in first half stoppage time. When Manuel Benson, on as a substitute, scored his first league goal since before Christmas nine minutes from time, a win looked almost certain, but we conceded just a few minutes later and it was the travelling Clarets who were nervously awaiting the final whistle at the end.
With Bailey Peacock-Farrell stationed right in front of us in the first half, much of the action was down at the far end. It would be understating it to suggest we were on top; we were simply dominating with only a rare forage forward forthcoming from Rotherham.
We had opportunities but they all went begging with the Rotherham defenders getting in good blocks and their goalkeeper Josh Vickers making good saves. It seemed just a matter of time before we did get in front and it came midway through the half when Twine netted on the volley from a Connor Roberts cross.
Ameen Al-Adkhi’s superb pass had sent Roberts clear down the right; his ball across was perfect as was Twine’s shot that he hit into the ground from where it went into the corner of the net giving Vickers no chance of getting to it.
Even from the far end of the ground I was sure there had been a handball. I’ve seen it since and with Madley looking straight at it, it really does beggar belief on how earth he’s denied us a spot kick. We’ve seen some very poor refereeing performances this season when at least we’ve been able to say that he hasn’t affected the result. The same really cannot be said here; that was a blatant penalty. It would have been interesting to see who might have taken it; there wasn’t a player on the pitch who has taken a penalty for Burnley.
We got to 45 minutes in front but then conceded a corner from which Rotherham equalised. It was scruffy too. I think Bailey Peacock-Farrell could have done better but it reached the far post where Vitinho turned it into his own goal.
It left us having it all to do again and for long periods of the second half it did seem as though I would be just a matter of time against a Rotherham side who had been forced to withdraw second choice goalkeeper Vickers and replace him with debutant Robbie Hemfrey and he stepped up with a save in the opening minutes to deny Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson.
Of all our players, Benson is probably the most effective substitute, not that he hasn’t turned in outstanding performances when in from the start, it’s just that he seems to have made so many telling contributions coming on in games. Just over ten minutes later, he left his mark on the game too.
When another attack broke down, Josh Cullen got in a challenge to win it back and found Benson. The wide player moved inside and from around 25-yards, on his favoured left foot, curled a simply superb shot into the corner. The away end erupted. I’d no idea on the night that he’d picked up a yellow card in the game, it was something I hadn’t seen. I have now, he leapt over the advertising hoardings to get right up to the crowd in celebration. Madley went straight for his card for over celebration.
On our way to Reading, we were discussing potential goal of the season candidates. That’s another that can be added to the list. It was worthy of winning any game and surely it was going to win this one even though news had come through by then that Sheffield United were winning meaning a wait to win the league.
This was to be the fifth time. Al-Dakhil got a head on a ball in from the left which saw it go wide of goal. They were able to get it back into the middle too easily where Georgie Kelly turned it in.
There were still around five minutes plus stoppage time to go and now I was worried that the unbeaten run that the Burnley fans had been singing about was going to come to an end. I am certain there was more concern from our fans than theirs but Rotherham didn’t look too bothered and continued to waste time as they’d done throughout, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goalkeeper take so long in clearing a ball as Hemfrey did in that second half.
We didn’t offer any threat in those final few minutes and another draw it was although a totally different, and much more enjoyable game to watch than that at Reading.
To win it this Saturday, it is now a case of winning against QPR. There won’t be any checking on scores elsewhere with Sheffield United in FA Cup action. It’s now well and truly over to us.
The teams were;
Rotherham: Josh Vickers (Robbie Hemfrey ht), Lee Peltier, Cameron Humphreys, Richard Wood, Cohen Bramall, Conor Coventry (Ben Wiles 85), Jamie Lindsay, Cheidoze Ogbene, Domingos Quina (Tariqe Fosu-Henry 70), Shane Ferguson (Wes Harding 62), Jordan Hugill (Georgie Kelly ht). Subs not used: Hakeem Odoffin, Leo Hjelde.
Yellow Card: Domingos Quina.
Burnley: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Connor Roberts, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Jordan Beyer, Ian Maatsen, Josh Cullen, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Jack Cork 83), Vitinho (Manuel Benson 70), Scott Twine (Michael Obafemi 77), Anass Zaroury, Lyle Foster (Ashley Barnes 78). Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Samuel Bastien.
Yellow Cards: Ian Maatsen, Manuel Benson.
Referee: Bobby Madley (Osset).
Attendance: 10,566 (including 2,202 Clarets).
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