Clarets go to Toon on Sean’s big night
A Jeff Hendrick goal gave Burnley another three Premier League points last night by helping us to a 1-0 win against Newcastle United in a tight game which moved us three places into 7th place in the table.
It’s a long time since we’ve beaten them. That last win, also by 1-0 at home, was in March 1983 when the winner was also scored by a Republic of Ireland international, on that occasion it was Terry Donovan with his first Burnley goal.
Newcastle included players such as Kevin Keegan and Chris Waddle that day. Their fans behaved appallingly and a stray dart thrown from the away section of the Longside landed in my dad’s forehead. He wasn’t badly injured, thankfully, but remembering that, this latest win’s for you dad.
Interestingly, the Sky commentator reported that, prior to last night, our last meeting had been in the Championship two seasons ago. Strange one that, our last meeting below the top flight was that game in 1983. Our previous top flight win against them, for the record, was also 1-0 when Peter Noble scored at St. James’ Park in April 1976. It was our last top flight victory for over 33 years, until we beat Manchester United in August 2009.
As for last night, the return journey from Crewe, including the obligatory pub stop, got us back into Burnley in good time. I spoke to three Germans in the club shop who were over here doing a bit of ground ticking. They’d been to the Liverpool v Huddersfield game two days earlier.
Then, outside the ground, I bumped into a Lincoln fan who was telling me how excited he is, looking forward to a trip to Wimbledon this weekend on the supporters club coach for their FA Cup tie. There are two clubs whose names make Burnley fans shudder when mentioned in reference to the FA Cup.
The team news was, by then filtering through. Chris Wood, we knew, was ruled out, but I was half expecting fit again Sam Vokes to come in, but Sean Dyche stuck with Ashley Barnes on his 28th birthday, who had come on for Wood in the Manchester City defeat. He made one other change, preferring Johann Berg Gudmundsson to Scott Arfield.
It wasn’t a surprise to see Nahki Wells in the match day squad for the first time either. Once he wasn’t included in the under-23 team earlier in the day it seemed inevitable that he would be on the bench.
Sometimes you can’t even dare to predict how a game of football might go; not even the most optimistic of Burnley fans could have believed we’d be 3-0 up at Chelsea by half time for instance. But the considered opinion last night was that it would be a tight game and that one goal either way would probably decide it. That opinion proved to be very much correct.
Ahead of kick off, Dyche received a superb reception from the Turf Moor crowd and he was already one up on his counterpart with Benitez having confirmed that he couldn’t compete with the Burnley manager when it came to judging their respective goatees.
Before the game got underway, a period of silence during the playing of The Last Post was impeccably observed by supporters in what is our last home game before Remembrance Day.
This was probably one of those games, similar to Huddersfield recently, when an early goal would have been beneficial and it almost came in the opening minute when Hendrick found himself with a half chance from an angle on the left.
But the game soon fell into the sort of game we expected with both defences generally on top and the forward players clearly set to have a difficult night.
One routine save apart, Nick Pope was virtually unemployed during the first 45 minutes and it was just about the same story at the other end with Rob Elliot’s only real save coming when he just about grabbed an effort from Robbie Brady under his bar although I’m sure he was mightily relieved to see a Barnes header from a Brady cross go just wide of his right hand post.
There was little change in the second half. Pope made one outstanding save early in the half but it was clear that maybe one mistake or one piece of outstanding play would likely settle it, and it all finally came from us with just over a quarter of an hour to play.
Ben Mee got the ball out to Steven Defour on the left. He made a run forward and that led to some intricate play between Brady, Stephen Ward and Hendrick with the latter almost playing in Barnes.
Newcastle cleared but Defour won the ball back and Jack Cork took it forward. He got the ball to Johann Berg Gudmundsson, continued his run and got in a good shot when he received the return ball.
Elliot saved but the ball rebounded to Gudmundsson. This time his first time cross to the far post was perfect. It evaded both Elliot and DeAndre Yedlin and dropped for Hendrick. He brought it under control and was then left just to finish into an empty net.
Hendrick had done really well to get the ball under control and, despite some suggestion, it was very definitely nowhere near his arms and hands. Once he’d done that, he said: “If I had missed that, I could have just walked off the pitch, that would have been me done.”
The game wasn’t over. Newcastle quickly made a change and we followed it with the introduction of Ashley Westwood for Defour. Newcastle made two more substitutions but it was Burnley who came close to getting the next goal when Barnes did really well but saw his shot saved by Elliot.
It had been another 1-0 home win, all of the 2017 wins at Turf Moor have been by that scoreline, and it was so reminiscent of some of the home wins last season when the goals came later in the game. Andre Gray scored on 80 minutes to beat Middlesbrough, Joey Barton after 78 minutes against Southampton and then as late as 87 minutes for the Sam Vokes winner against Leicester.
It wasn’t a spectacle, that’s for sure, but not many games are these days. Having said that, there was much to admire in this performance. Defensively we were once again outstanding, the centre of midfield continues to be as good as it’s been at Burnley in years while the forward players kept at it and eventually found that one opportunity that won us the points.
It’s all apparently back to the speculation again now but let’s just enjoy being seventh in the league with only the supposed big six ahead of us.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Steven Defour (Ashley Westwood 76), Jack Cork, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Nahki Wells.
Yellow Cards: Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, James Tarkowski.
Newcastle: Rob Elliot, DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, Javier Manquillo, Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame (Dwight Gayle 83), Matt Ritchie (Jacob Murphy 79), Ayoze Perez (Isaac Hayden 76), Christian Atsu, Joselu. Subs not used: Karl Darlow, Ciaran Clark, Jesus Gamez, Henri Saivet.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Attendance: 21,031 (including 2,458 from Newcastle).
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