Back home with a much needed win against Watford
The Clarets have finally done it. We’ve gone past the forty points total in the Premier League with seven games still remaining with last night’s 1-0 home win against Watford coming courtesy of a Jay Rodriguez goal at an all but empty Turf Moor.
“Ewood Park is now empty, it’s getting knocked down,” is a line from a song regularly sung by Burnley fans. There’s no chance of the Turf getting knocked down, although an improvement or two wouldn’t go amiss, but it was definitely an eerie looking place last night as I, like all other Clarets, were forced to watch it from the comfort of my own front room.
I prepared, as much as possible, as if it were a normal home game and I was going to the Turf. It wasn’t, of course, and the last time I saw the place was on Thursday, 12th March when I had a meeting with then chief executive Dave Baldwin. That’s fifteen weeks ago. Having been brought up just round the corner, I reckon this has to be the longest I’ve ever gone without at least walking past and I’m sure as hell, like so many more, missing the place.
So, it was another FaceTime experience with friends as I sat in front of the television on a hot night that was hardly perfect for football and I was hoping, given what’s happened this week, that we could put all these things behind us for ninety minutes and enjoy a good performance and result.
Sean Dyche did what Sean Dyche does; he named an unchanged team from the one beaten at Manchester City. The only changes were the inclusion of both Phil Bardsley and Mace Goodridge on the bench that at least took us up to the maximum of nine allowed, even if it did include two goalkeepers.
We should have been in front and we had the chances to. Rodriguez had the first from a tight angle. He did ever so well but Ben Foster got down to save and then quickly recovered to palm the ball away as we looked to score from the rebound. Josh Brownhill, making his first Turf Moor start, headed well wide and Rodriguez then shot straight at Foster when a ball to his right could have given Brownhill a better chance.
There was also a goal ruled out for offside, correctly I might add, but the closest we came to a first half goal came initially from Matěj Vydra. He ran onto a ball from Ben Mee down the left and with Foster running out of goal he lobbed him superbly only to see his shot come back off the foot of the post. Rodriguez fired in a shot as it rebounded but his former West Brom team mate Craig Dawson cleared off the line with Brownhill hitting his shot wide as the ball found him.
It was a bit difficult to take as we went off at the interval without a goal but with hopes that, should we continue to remain on top then the goals would come after the break.
Unfortunately, things changed after the break. Nigel Pearson made a couple of half time substitutions, something that Sean Dyche would deem a luxury, and they pushed onto us more and suddenly it was Watford in the ascendancy.
With the mid-half drinks break approaching, Watford got their best chance when Troy Deeney headed a left wing corner towards goal but Dwight McNeil was on the line to clear with Will Hughes following up with a shot high into the empty cricket field stand.
I thought that just about ended it for Watford. We had the break and just a few minutes later we took the lead with it coming from our own goal kick. Vydra did ever so well in receiving the ball and after a short intervention from Ashley Westwood it was Brownhill who took it up, nicking the ball past two Watford players before a short pass to McNeil on the left.
McNeil’s cross was perfect for Rodriguez to get in front of the defender. He stooped low to deflect the ball with his head past the helpless Foster and we’d taken the lead just after coming out of a difficult spell.
Vydra was so, so close to doubling the advantage. He got in on the right, came inside the defender but saw Foster save well to deny him a goal against his former club. That was the one real chance at either end after the goal. We held off Watford with ease and saw the game out comfortably. We had to deal with five minutes plus of stoppage time but we had this one won to take us past the forty points total.
It was a terrific way to finish what had been a horrible week. It also means Sean Dyche and Barry Kilby, a director the manager clearly has no issue with, can plan their next ten point party, socially distanced of course.
The contract situation is over and done with. Some players have now left the club with Dyche very definitely unhappy at Jeff Hendrick’s departure. We can do nothing about that now and we can only hope some of the injured players return sooner rather than later, but we must do something about the fractured relationship between chairman and manager. We all know Sean Dyche will leave one day and it could be far sooner than any of us feared the way things are. Someone needs to get it sorted.
That was it then, and I’ve never got home from a game on the Turf as quickly. I don’t like having to watch from home but it is how it has to be and I’m not the only one yearning for a seat at Turf Moor again.
It’s off to Palace next and a date with Amazon next Monday.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Jay Rodriguez (Erik Pieters 81), Matěj Vydra. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Lukas Jensen, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Bobby Thomas, Mace Goodridge, Max Thompson.
Yellow Card: Dwight McNeil.
Watford: Ben Foster, Kiko Femenía, Craig Dawson, Christian Kabasele (Craig Cathcart ht), Adam Masina, Ismaíla Sarr, Étienne Capouè, Will Hughes (Nathaniel Chalobah 83), Tom Cleveley (Abdoulaye Doucouré ht), Danny Welbeck, Troy Deeney (Andre Gray 85). Subs not used: Heurelho Gomes, Adrian Mariappa, João Pedro, Ignacio Pussetto, Roberto Pereyra.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
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