Fer goal condemns Clarets to defeat
A goal from former Norwich City and Queens Park Rangers midfielder Leroy Fer left Burnley, somewhat undeservedly, with nothing from in a 1-0 defeat on the opening day of the season against Swansea City.
Fer had the relatively easy task of turning the ball home from close range after Tom Heaton could only touch a Fernando Llorente header from a Jefferson Montero cross. It was cruel on the Clarets who had more than played their part in the game and, certainly in the second half, looked the more likely of the two sides to get a winner.
It’s not often a team promoted to the Premier League kicks off the new season without a single new signing. There was concern in 2009 when only Tyrone Mears and Steven Fletcher made their debuts and two years ago the only new recruits against Chelsea were Matt Taylor and Lukas Jutkiewicz.
But, although all the talk at Turf Moor yesterday was of Steven Defour, even in the post match interview with the manager, it was the team that lined up on the final day of last season at Charlton other than David Jones in for Joey Barton.
Turf Moor looked pristine. It was ready. You might not have thought that it would be had you been around the place 24 hours earlier. I was there for a meeting and it was a hive of activity and you wondered whether they would get everything in place.
The new floodlights were on, the electronic advertising boards, a necessary evil from my point of view, were flashing up the Premier League in a variety of bright colours and, more importantly, the newly lengthened and widened pitch looked immaculate as referee Jon Moss led the teams out.
We started a little nervously and looked and yet only Andre Gray was playing Premier League football for the first time. Having said that, they didn’t put us under too much pressure and I can’t really recall us having any real escapes.
Indeed, the closest we came to a goal was through a David Jones corner. From the right wing he curled it in to the near post only for Lukasz Fabianski, who was probably Swansea’s best player, to claw it away at the eventual expense of another corner from which Jones came close again. Prior to that, Gray had tested Fabianski with a stinging shot from an angle, this after he’d blazed over an earlier opportunity.
As the half wore on there were better opportunities. Although Fabianski saved from Dean Marney, there were two chances for Swansea. Wayne Routledge failed to find target with the first of them when he should have tested Tom Heaton and just before half time it took a goal line clearance from Scott Arfield to keep us level.
If we’d been a little hesitant in the first half, that was certainly not the case after the break and with any luck at all we’d have found ourselves in front long before Swansea rallied to score their winner.
Marney, who I thought had an outstanding game, looped a header onto the top of the net from Matt Lowton ball in from the right. How we’ve missed the central midfielder. I still think back to that day he suffered his cruciate ligament. We were beating West Brom 2-0 and on top, but they came back to draw with two dubious goals and for the remainder of the season we didn’t really have a replacement.
He’s looked good and strong in pre-season and yesterday’s performance was a real reminder of what we’ve missed for the last 18 months. It’s good to have him back.
A corner on the left wasn’t best dealt with by the Swansea keeper and, from my vantage point, Michael Keane looked as though he’d missed a good chance. I then heard Sean Dyche speak about the incident and I’ve since seen it. Keane definitely has his shirt tugged by Fer and quite how the assistant referee hasn’t seen and given it beggars belief. That was a penalty, no doubt, and a lead then, assuming we’d scored it, could have been vital in getting us off the mark.
Sam Vokes was denied when his shot from the edge of the box was well saved but eventually Swansea did come back into it, more so once they’d brought on Gylfi Sigurdsson, and I’m still not sure how they didn’t go in front when Federico Fernandez missed from just a few yards out; it looked easier to score than get it over the bar.
I recall noticing that we were approaching 80 minutes and although I thought we might not score a goal, I didn’t think we were going to concede either and I thought a point would be, in the end, a decent return from the first match.
But then disaster struck with that goal. The Match of the Day team thought Heaton might have done better but I’m not so sure having seen it back a few times. I think he does well to make the first save to be fair.
There had been a terrific atmosphere inside the ground up to that point, one that had improved during our period on top in the second half, but the goal flattened it momentarily. It might have done so off the pitch, but the response on the pitch was excellent as we pushed hard for an equaliser.
Gray was close to an immediate equaliser and we got a couple of free kicks around the box, both taken by Johann Berg Gudmundsson who made his debut when he came on for Arfield with a quarter of an hour to go.
The first of those free kicks was the moment I thought we’d got ourselves level. It was not a good free kick, going straight into the defensive wall, but came back to Marney who hit a superb first time shot. I’m not sure who it might have deflected off but it looked a certain goal until Fabianski made a brilliant save to deny us.
There was one last chance when Lukas Jutkiewicz, who did well enough when he came on for the last few minutes, won another free kick, but Gudmundsson’s effort was easily held by Fabianski.
The referee added on a minute to the original four added minutes, this for a bit of Swansea play acting which had become a feature of the second half, but it was not to be and our third Premier League season got off to the same sort of start as the previous two, with a defeat.
You look at the fixtures and with Liverpool and Chelsea next, we probably could have done with getting something. It wasn’t to be; we did deserve better than a 1-0 defeat but that’s what we’ve got.
We’ve got to take our medicine and crack on. Hopefully there will be some new signings in soon and, if so, I still remain optimistic that we will do alright this season.
It could have been worse, I heard Will Grigg was on fire again yesterday.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Dean Marney, David Jones (Lukas Jutkiewicz 87), Scott Arfield (Johann Berg Gudmundsson 75), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Fredrik Ulvestad, Michael Kightly.
Yellow Cards: David Jones, Stephen Ward, Matt Lowton.
Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton, Jordi Amat, Federico Fernandez, Stephen Kingsley, Leroy Fer, Leon Britton (Gylfi Sigurdsson 60), Jack Cork, Modou Barrow (Jefferson Montero 64), Fernando Llorente, Wayne Routledge (Angel Rangel 87). Subs not used: Kris Nordfeldt, Mike van der Hoorn, Nathan Dyer, Jay Fulton.
Yellow Card: Jordi Amat, Federerico Fernandez.
Referee: Jon Moss (Horsforth).
Attendance: 19,126 (including 1,365 from Swansea).Follow UpTheClarets:
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