FA Cup ends early again for Clarets
It’s not often our FA Cup season extends beyond the end of January and yesterday’s 2-1 home defeat against Norwich has ensured that once more our interest in the competition has come to an end before the completion of the first month of the calendar year.
Back in the early part of this century, in 2003, we reached the sixth round and then followed that up my making the fifth round in each of the following two seasons. But in fifteen seasons since we’ve only twice gone past round four and two goals early in the second half four our visitors yesterday ensured we weren’t making it three times.
In fairness, we don’t often lose at home in the FA Cup and yesterday was only the third time since Rotherham embarrassed Chris Waddles Burnley in a first round tie back in 1997, but this being the FA Cup and us battling for points in the Premier League didn’t give too many much confidence ahead of yesterday’s game.
It had, without question, been a superb week for our club. Having lost four successive Premier League games, we came from behind to beat high flying Leicester, and getting one over on Brendan Rodgers is not something we’ve ever found easy. We then followed that up with Wednesday’s memorable victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Sean Dyche had said there would be changes for the cup but perhaps there weren’t quite as many as some expected. He made just five changes and all five players coming in are full internationals. Joe Hart was in goal and there were two changes in the back four with Kevin Long and Erik Pieters coming in for Ben Mee and Charlie Taylor. The other two chances saw Aaron Lennon and Robbie Brady replace Jeff Hendrick and Dwight McNeil. All of the five coming in are full internationals and that left a starting eleven with only Matt Lowton and Ashley Westwood not having won caps.
It kicked off a first half that saw so many chances come and go, it could have been 4-4 at half time with some ease and yet the players went in for the half time break with the score remaining 0-0.
Norwich had failed to convert another big chance, this time hitting the bar from close range, when we got our first opportunity and it fell to Jay Rodriguez who was set up by Chris Wood. He should have scored but his effort lacked power and was straight at the goalkeeper.
Brady was close with a couple of efforts and James Tarkowski got involved at both ends of the ground, miraculously clearing a Sam Byram shot off the line at one end and then heading against the Norwich bar at the other.
Drmic ended the half as he started it by missing a chance and it was so hard to believe that we hadn’t seen a goal when Michael Oliver blew the half time whistle.
It got worse, another routine ball played in from the left, this time in open play, found Pieters playing two Norwich players onside. The first of them, Lukas Rupp flicked the ball towards goal with Hart only able to allow it to drop for Drmic who just couldn’t miss.
They were so close to making it three soon after before we reacted and made a couple of changes. Off went Jack Cork and Wood with Hendrick and Matěj Vydra coming on. Things did improve and we did pull one back.
Lennon, one of few to impress, made a run down the right to get onto a ball from Ashley Westwood. He pulled the ball back for Vydra who slipped and a Norwich defender played it right to Brady. He got it back to Vydra whose touch on his chest was poor but again Norwich could only find a Burnley player, this time Pieters who drilled his shot into the bottom corner from a couple of yards inside the box.
At that point, I thought we had a chance of getting back into the tie. There were still eighteen minutes remaining. With ten to go, McNeil replaced Brady who had been targeted by the crowd. To be fair, he’d been woeful although who knows had one of those first half shots gone in. The switch made little difference and we never really threatened an equaliser, in fact the closest we had to another goal was when Hart denied late Norwich substitute Teemu Pukki.
Even so, once more, I left disappointed at the end of another cup run. I think I’ve all but given up hope of reaching another final.
The teams were;
Burnley: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork (Jeff Hendrick 65), Robbie Brady (Dwight McNeil 80), Jay Rodriguez, Chris Wood (Matěj Vydra 65). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Charlie Taylor, Mace Goodridge.
Yellow Card: Kevin Long.
Norwich: Ralf Fährmann, Sam Byram, Grant Hanley, Christophe Zimmermann, Jamal Lewis, Mario Vrancic, Tom Trybull, Lukas Rupp, Marco Stiepermann (Ondrej Duda 81), Onel Hernández (Kenny McLean 84), Josip Drmic (Teemu Pukki 89). Subs not used: Michael McGovern, Max Aarons, Alex Tettey, Josh Martin.
Yellow Cards: Marco Stiepermann, Christophe Zimmermann, Grant Hanley.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).
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