Classy Clarets too good for toothless Terriers
Back at home on the Turf after two tough away games at Luton and Millwall, Burnley brushed away Huddersfield Town with absolute ease, winning 4-0 on a day when, with any luck, we could have won by even more.
First half goals from Ashley Barnes (for now), Connor Roberts, Josh Brownhill took the game away from Huddersfield and substitute Michael Obafemi added a fourth with the only downside of the afternoon being what looks a serious injury suffered by Ian Maatsen.
For me, it was a first home league game in five weeks, since Scott Twine’s free kick won the game against West Brom. Illness kept me away from the games against Preston and Watford. I was able to see the Watford game courtesy of Sky but I’ve lost count of how many people have told me what a treat I missed with the 3-0 win against Preston. Had I missed what was to be the best performance of the season I wondered? Could we seriously offer any sort of repeat?
I had some concerns ahead of the game. Was this one going to be the banana skin? Would the presence of Colin (Neil Warnock) influence things? Warnock has brought teams to the Turf for league games on sixteen previous occasions. He won the first two of them too, both with Scarborough, but he’s recorded just two more Turf Moor victories, those with Sheffield United.
It’s the Kompany effect I should be thinking about and, as expected, our manager made changes from the team that had drawn at Millwall. There were three of them. Ameen Al-Dakhil and Scott Twine were given their first league starts at Millwall but were replaced by fit again Jordan Beyer and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson. In the other change, Nathan Tella was preferred to Vitinho.
What a start we made. Huddersfield could hardly get a touch of the ball as we passed them off the park in the opening minutes and all it needed was an early goal. It came, in just the seventh minute and ended a superb sixteen pass move that started when we won the ball back from a Huddersfield clearance following two corners.
The sixteenth pass came from Anass Zaroury from which, we think, Barnes got a touch right in front of goal to score. We weren’t sure but the PA announcer confirmed it was Zaroury’s goal at the same time as the big screen confirmed it was Barnes who had scored. As things stand, the goal has been awarded to Barnes, his third in three games and his fiftieth league goal for the Clarets.
Sixteen passes for the first one, this was twenty-four, the same number as there were for Jeff Hendrick’s goal at Everton five seasons ago. This was sensational stuff. Pass number 23 came from Hjalmar Ekdal, a central defender no less. He threaded the ball into the box for Guðmundsson and he took it past goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic for Roberts to stroke home. I think Guðmundsson would have been able to turn it in but Roberts explained: “My goal was obviously just right place, right time. I think I could have left it but Johey’s scored enough in his career so I thought I’ll have one more thank you.”
It looked as though Huddersfield were going to react with a triple substitution as three players got ready to come on. It didn’t happen, had it done so, it would have made no difference, I’m sure.
JBG might not have got the goal but just past the half hour, he got his second assist. He played a lovely ball into the box and there was Brownhill to take one touch before firing home. Incredibly, this was Brownhill’s first Turf Moor goal since he scored the opener in the 3-3 draw against Blackpool back in August.
It didn’t happen yesterday, but we were so, so close, when Ekdal again wonderfully played in Maatsen whose shot clipped the right hand post. The half almost ended sensationally with Josh Cullen shooting just wide after a move of over forty passes.
The half time whistle was greeted with an enormous roar from the appreciative Turf Moor crowd. Was this what I missed with the Preston game? The first half had been sensational.
Huddersfield made two half time changes and even got a shot on target early in the half but soon after that we suffered a big blow when Maatsen went down injured. Trying to retrieve the situation after a pass out from Arijanet Muric was short, he went down in a challenge with Brahima Diarra. The game was stopped for five and a half minutes before Maatsen was stretchered off with what has been reported as a likely serious shoulder injury.
Obafemi scored our goal in the previous home game against Watford and he was soon on the scoresheet again. Roberts played a superb ball inside the full back for Nathan Tella who had caused them problems all afternoon and had been close to scoring himself. This time he pulled the ball back for Obafemi to smash home.
The scoring had finished. There could have been more goals but four it was as we reached ninety minutes. With the goals, the substitutions and stoppages, and remember the Maatsen injury stoppage was five and a half minutes, we were expecting something like nine or ten minutes additional time. Incredibly it was just four minutes. Referee Matt Donohue had enjoyed a good game, albeit an easy game to referee, but he got his timekeeping horribly wrong.
He blew virtually bang on four minutes too to signal another home win, a thirteenth of the season, as we move ever closer to a Premier League return. In our last promotion season, we’d just won at Bolton to take our points total to 65; two years ago game 34 was that wonderful day at Ewood when we beat them 2-1 to move to 69 points.
The Huddersfield manager trooped off at the end after acknowledging those away fans still in the ground. I don’t often agree with him but he said he was relieved this one was out of the way, that there are no other Burnleys in this league. “The best team in the Championship in 25 years,” he said. It’s hard to disagree with that.
To use a football cliché, I was absolutely buzzing when I got home. To be honest, I still am. This was very special from a very special team.
Now I’m looking forward to this week and games against the teams either end of the tram derby, Fleetwood and Blackpool.
The teams were;
Burnley: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Hjalmar Ekdal, Jordan Beyer (Vitinho 79), Ian Maatsen (Charlie Taylor 59), Josh Cullen, Josh Brownhill (Michael Obafemi 68), Nathan Tella (Scott Twine 79), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Anass Zaroury, Ashley Barnes (Lyle Foster 68).Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jack Cork.
Huddersfield: Nicholas Bilokapic, Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Tom Lees, Michal Helik, Jaheim Headley, David Kasuma (Scott High ht), Etienne Camara, Joseph Hungbo (Brahima Diarra ht), Jack Rudoni, Josh Koroma, Danny Ward (Martyn Waghorn 75). Subs not used: Tomáš Vaclíc, Jonathan Hogg, Will Boyle, Jordan Rhodes.
Yellow Cards: Josh Koroma, Jaheim Headley.
Referee: Matt Donohue (Manchester).
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