Clarets win the title on joyous night at Ewood
On Good Friday, Burnley won promotion to the Premier League with a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough and last night the title was clinched at Ewood Park when we recorded a sixth successive win against Blackburn Rovers.
All of a sudden, following the wins against Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, we’d failed to win in three consecutive games, that’s something we hadn’t done since the beginning of the season when we didn’t win any of the four games that followed the opening night victory at Huddersfield.
But we put all that right with this win. It might not have been the prettiest; we might not have been at our best but what a moment when that final whistle blew. Not being there, I do feel I’ve been robbed of that moment, but I know several others who travel to all away games who also missed out. I’m sure I can speak for all of them and say, despite not being there to witness it, we were all thrilled and excited at how it ended. I’ll be at Ashton Gate this Saturday and I had no desire to see us have to wait until then.
For the second time this season, I was in front of my television for a game which is how I watched the home game against Watford as I recovered from COVID, but the nerves were much greater last night with the first shock coming an hour before kick off with the team news which saw two changes in the centre of defence.
The other change saw Vitinho come back in for Manuel Benson. Benson, like Harwood-Bellis, has just returned from injury and in the last week with some impact, scoring impressive goals in the draw at Rotherham and the home defeat against QPR.
Watching on television, it really was sad to see the empty seats in the Darwen End of the ground but I was ready to concentrate on what was about to happen on the pitch.
I thought we started well enough and looked the most likely side to gain the upper hand, but we didn’t create much in terms of chances and probably the closest we came was from Al-Dakhil following a corner.
They did come back at us but apart from one deflected effort they didn’t seriously threaten our goal and I thought we looked more than comfortable by half time with the score still goalless. We were still waiting to see who might replace Scott Arfield as the last Burnley player to score a league goal against them at their place.
I think it’s fair to say that we didn’t have things all our own way after the break. They were putting us under some pressure but generally we were dealing with it although there were a couple of worrying moments when they won free kicks enabling them to get the ball into our box.
With just under an hour gone, Kompany decided to change things. Jack Cork came on for Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Benson joined Cork, replacing Vitinho. Both were soon to help change the game in our favour.
Benson received the ball no more than ten yards inside the Blackburn half right out on the touchline. He moved forward, got to just past the line of the penalty area and then came inside his defender. “Surely not,” I said to myself, he couldn’t possibly be setting himself up for another shot from the corner of the box.
That’s exactly what he did and it sailed into the far corner, right in front of those Burnley fans. “He’s only gone and done it again,” said Sky commentator Daniel Mann. He had; we were 1-0 up. Sean Dyche used to talk about players affecting games, my word, Benson does that. If this continues, he might even be taking the ‘Little Magician’ title from Robbie Blake.
I looked at the clock and thought there was still too long to go. I’d have been more than happy for referee Tim Robinson to finish it there and then, but we still had some defending to do. I have to say that, overall, we did that defending superbly and I don’t think I can recall Arijanet Muric having too many saves to make although what he did have to do, he did immaculately.
Then another corner and another wait while another clown came on. This time Barnes was the player to clear it. Their goalkeeper Aynsley Pears had come up for both corners and when Benson chased the ball down the left flank, he saw a potential opportunity. He really should have just taken the ball into the corner but from right out on the wing he tried the almost impossible with a shot that incredibly hit the bar before going over.
A goal kick for the home side but as they took it, seven minutes into stoppage time, the final whistle blew bringing with it joyous scenes in the away end and on the pitch, that was except for Cork who was seemingly under attack from some of the sore losers known as Blackburn players. It seems Sorba Thomas might have been the culprit. Goodness, he’s only on loan and at least can get out of the place next week.
Jon Dahl Tomasson, who almost dismissed our manager’s handshake at the end, was by now ranting at referee Tim Robinson. I think he’d be much better employed looking at his own team’s failings rather than blaming everyone else.
I suppose they did at least touch the ball this time, something they found so difficult at the Turf back in November. They are still going to have to mind the gap though, it’s thirty points now.
Someone said to me after Middlesbrough that it’s better to do these things away rather than at home. I got it, it’s that the players can celebrate in front of one section of the ground. I enjoyed it; I sat and celebrated with everyone with a cup of tea to hand and I was thrilled that they at last condescended to allow 2,000 in and that they could enjoy the moment. Those 2,000, from what I could see, and from what I’ve been told, behaved as you would hope and did our club proud.
There was the now traditional thunderclap led by JBG, Connor Roberts riding round on Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s shoulders, Vincent Kompany knee sliding.
I received loads of texts and messages last night from friends who support other clubs, all sending their congratulations. One came from one of my best friends who supports Sunderland. He’d watched it. I got a ‘GET IN’ text from him when we scored and a huge congratulations from him at the final whistle. Of course, we’d done his club a big favour; they’d have dropped out of the top six had we not won.
I’ve hardly slept. All of you will understand that; all of you understand how it feels to see your team win a league. I’m looking forward to Bristol City this Saturday. Whatever happens there, we are going as champions.
Jay Rod understands what it means for the people of Burnley to come and win the league at Ewood Park
Our manager, reflecting on getting his first Ewood win with the Clarets, said: “I don’t know if the lads realise it, I think Jay Rod does because he’s one of the people I was speaking to. I think Jay Rod understands what it means for the people of Burnley to come and win the league at Ewood Park, for us you couldn’t write it.”
What a night, what a season, what a goal – just brilliant Burnley
The teams were;
Blackburn: Aynsley Pears, Joe Rankin-Costello, Hayden Carter, Dominic Hyam, Harry Pickering (Callum Brittain 74), Lewis Travis (Harry Lennard 85), Adam Wharton, Ryan Hedges (Sorba Thomas 74), Sammie Szmodics, Ben Brereton, Tyrhys Dolan (Bradley Dack 75). Subs not used: Thomas Kaminski, Ashley Phillips, Jake Garrett.
Yellow Cards: Joe Rankin-Costello, Harry Pickering, Sammie Szmodics.
Burnley: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Charlie Taylor, Ian Maatsen (Taylor Harwood-Bellis 90+5), Josh Cullen, Josh Brownhill, Vitinho (Manuel Benson 58), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Jack Cork 58), Anass Zaroury (Jay Rodriguez 90+5), Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Michael Obafemi, Lyle Foster.
Yellow Cards: Josh Brownhill, Josh Cullen, Ian Maatsen, Jack Cork, Arijanet Muric.
Referee: Tim Robinson (Bognor).
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