Clarets outfoxed by Leicester
This was the day when we were supposedly going to steal a march on the other teams at the bottom of the league. While most of them sat without a game, this was our chance to get some points and move towards safety.
It didn’t quite work out like that did it? And ultimately, we didn’t even get a point against a team that, for virtually the whole of the second half, weren’t even trying to beat us, although, in fairness, we should have been awarded three penalties.
What a horrible day it was in every sense. We’d been warned of the weather to come and there were problems for people travelling in from out of town, particularly on the M66 which was closed for a while due to flooding. My journey is a short one and at least I managed to get down to the Turf without getting particularly wet.
Pre-match, we were sat delighting in Sheffield United’s win at Leeds while looking forward to the game with the Burnley team showing the one change; Sean Dyche opted to recall Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson at the expense of Jeff Hendrick who had started every game since mid-January. Brendan Rodgers kept the same Leicester team that had beaten Fulham on a day when the captains’ armbands were worn by the two goalkeepers.
In the first two or three minutes, they put us under some real pressure and twice we managed to get blocks in to avoid conceding an early goal, but the game soon looked as though it had turned in our favour with a first advance on the Leicester goal.
Chris Wood and Jack Cork were involved with the latter playing in Guðmundsson who was able to make a run on Kasper Schmeichel’s goal. But Harry Maguire fouled him, referee Michael Oliver awarded the free kick and immediately brought out the red card for Maguire in only the fourth minute of the game. It was, apparently, the earliest red card in a Premier League game since West Brom’s Gareth McAuley was dismissed at Manchester City in the second minute four years ago.
Guðmundsson took the free kick which took a deflection off the wall. Schmeichel saved well at the expense of a corner. Before we could take it, fourth official Lee Mason came out with the board to show us that Demarai Gray was about to be sacrificed to get Wes Morgan on. Incredibly, Morgan wasn’t ready to come on and was still sat in the dug out. Oliver, incredibly, waited until he was ready.
I suppose we sat back in the stands and waited for us to take command against ten man Leicester but it just didn’t happen. We offered precious little threat for most of the first half and Leicester always looked the most likely and just past the half hour they went in front.
James Maddison was becoming an influence in the game and he won a free kick on the edge of the box when James Tarkowski needlessly brought him down. Maddison is one of the best free kick specialists in the Premier League and he proved that again when it went over the wall and in past Tom Heaton’s despairing dive.
They almost had a second but Jamie Vardy just couldn’t quite reach a ball in from the right. Things were beginning to look more than concerning but it took us only five minutes to level things. It might have all started with a mistake from Jonny Evans but after that it was a goal of some quality. Wood did really well on the right touchline before playing it inside for Cork. He moved it on quickly to Dwight McNeil who in turn got it out wide to Charlie Taylor. It was quick incisive passing and it ended with a smart finish from McNeil after Taylor had played the ball back to him.
That was about it for the first half and as the players went off at least we had some confidence that we could step things up after the break. In truth, we did, but against a Leicester side whose one target in the half was to make it difficult for us with what proved to be an excellent defensive performance.
We just didn’t create enough good opportunities as we constantly fell into the same trap, playing the same sort of football with little variation. Having said that, we had three shouts for penalties, all of which, in my view, should have been given.
There were handballs from Jonny Evans and Morgan, while between those we had Taylor brought down by Wilfred Ndidi. Oliver was close, had a good view, but incredibly waved it away. I’m mystified. If he felt there was no contact, which clearly he did, why was there no reprimand for Taylor? The two handballs were really poor decisions, this one was a shocker.
Peter Crouch had come on and been involved in the second of the handballs and he was followed by Robbie Brady. But it was all too frantic and long before the end I’d given up hope of getting a winner. What I didn’t think would happen was Leicester getting one.
Brady has come in for some stick for not hacking the ball clear but a lot happened after that. He played it inside for Ben Mee who couldn’t control it. Ben recovered that by getting in a block at the expense of a corner. That corner was headed out by Tarkowski. Ashley Westwood failed to get control of it and when it came back in, via a deflection off Taylor, Morgan rose about the static Tarkowski to head home.
“Witless,” one Burnley fan said to me as we left, while another said: “That’s it, we’re down now.” That was the negativity around the place and you left hardly able to believe we’d played virtually the entire match against ten men, it never, ever looked like that.
Now all that was left was to get home and the return journey wasn’t anything like as kind. I walked up towards Belvedere Road and I think I was soaked to the skin by the time I’d got there. I’ve had a few soakings this season leaving various grounds; I think this one was the worst.
I think it sort of summed up the whole afternoon. To suggest it was disappointing is a huge understatement. It was a concerning performance at a time when we still need points to stay up. It’s hard to believe now how well we played against Spurs just three weeks ago. We need to find that form again and quickly. I still believe two more wins will see us safe. It’s now very much a matter of finding them.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Robbie Brady 79), Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil (Matěj Vydra 90+1), Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Peter Crouch 70). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Ben Gibson, Jeff Hendrick.
Yellow Card: Phil Bardsley.
Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, Demarai Gray (Wes Morgan 6), James Maddison (Christian Fuchs 64), Harvey Barnes (Napmalys Mendy 77), Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Danny Ward, Rachid Ghezzal, Kelechi Iheanacho, Shinji Okazaki.
Yellow Card: James Maddison.
Red Card: Harry Maguire.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Ashington).
Click HERE to vote for your man of the match.
Click HERE to post your player ratings.Share this page :