Forest felled and flattened by fantastic Clarets
Today it’s another Saturday without football so instead of going to Crystal Palace we are going back to February 2014 when we kicked off a big three games against Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers.
We went into the Forest game on the back of a nine game unbeaten run although five of those nine games had ended in draws. We were second in the table, albeit eight points behind leaders Leicester, with Derby, QPR and Forest the three teams hot on our heels. The next two games were at home against two of those three teams right behind us and then it was off to Ewood to try and bring and end to the long wait for a win against our local rivals.
What a run of games it was for us. We won all three and by the time we smiled all the way back to Burnley from Ewood fifteen days later, Forest were out of it and we’d built up a nice big lead over those right behind us.
And so to the first of those games against Forest. It’s been chosen for the fact that the Blackburn game is already featured on this site, it kicked off this run of wins and it was, in my view, the performance of the season, better than the previous home wins against Reading and QPR back in the Autumn.
Below is my report from six years ago.
The Clarets left the pitch to a standing ovation after beating fellow promotion chasers Nottingham Forest 3-1, all three of our goals coming in a first half that was nothing short of sensational.
Scott Arfield, who turned in a performance that on another day would have won him the man of the match, opened the scoring on 12 minutes before Sam Vokes, without doubt my choice for the top player accolade, added a brace as we simply swept aside any potential threat from Forest.
It was as good as anything we’ve seen this season. It was better than the home performance against Reading and even better than the home performance against QPR; you could almost run out of superlatives.
It’s often said that it is easier to report on a game when the performance is either at the top or the bottom of the scale; I can subscribe to that. At times it is easier to write after a bad day as the anger and frustration force their way through, but for this report, please excuse me if you think I’m going over the top but I can find no other way to report on what I witnessed at Turf Moor in this victory against Forest.
I’m a nervous and emotional sort of person, but I was strangely calm all morning and, in fact, right up to kick off. I recall being asked just before the QPR home game back in October if I thought we had a chance; my reply was that, should we lose, we’d still have 29 points from 13 games and that was good enough for me. Maybe it is because we’ve exceeded expectations this season by such a margin I can remain relaxed, and yet here we were in second place against a team pushing to take our place before the season comes to an end.
I’d been more nervous around half past nine last Wednesday when they were leading 2-1 against a ten man Leicester team, only relaxing when the final whistle blew at 2-2, some ten minutes after Leicester had equalised. So calm, non-committal, even hearing one regular Claret predict a defeat while we were enjoying a pre-match pint (and he knows who he is!!!) didn’t overly concern me.
Just before leaving the pub came the usual news – ‘unchanged team’. It was expected just as it was that Billy Davies would make changes. He can afford to; he has a squad so big it’s been suggested that he hasn’t even learned all their names yet.
Sean Dyche certainly knows the names of all our players. He also supports them all, trusts them and they trust him and respect him, but I don’t think any of us could have dared hope those eleven who started would turn in a first half performance quite as sensational as the one we saw in front of our very eyes.
Right from the first seconds of the game we were on the front foot and pushing Forest back. We were getting forward at every opportunity and Arfield, who was in magnificent form, forced his way through into the box and got the ball to Vokes who saw goalkeeper Karl Darlow make the first save of the afternoon.
Arfield was starting to give former Claret Danny Fox a torrid afternoon. The boos from the Longside for the left-back, which I didn’t quite understand, were nothing compared to the problems he got from the Burnley wide man. Fox played 56 times for us but I don’t recall him ever having a more difficult game than he did here.
It wasn’t all coming down one side, believe me, and Michael Kightly was giving Greg Halford an afternoon to forget on the other side of the pitch as he turned him inside out and back again, but inevitably the opener came via Arfield.
David Jones played the ball forward to him and he nut-megged Fox before moving into the box before unleashing a powerful, low shot. It was straight at Darlow but the Forest keeper could do no more than deflect it into the roof of the net. What a start! A goal up on 12 minutes but there was more to come, there was much, much more to come.
The lead was doubled on 25 minutes when Vokes headed home a Kieran Trippier cross. It was a goal that simply lifted everyone in the ground. Fox had got out of the way for this one; he was inside the box attempting to prevent Arfield getting involved and Jamie Paterson was the player caught in the corner with Trippier. Our right-back did a couple of step-overs but only he will know whether he meant to use his own left leg to play a one-two. Whether he did or he didn’t, the reaction was so quick and in came the perfect cross that had ‘Head Me’ written on it. Vokes did exactly that and powered home his header at the back post.
He might have got a second form a thunderous shot from outside the box that Darlow saved and before he did get a second he produced probably the most sublime piece of skill of the whole afternoon as he took the ball in the centre circle. turned brilliantly to play the perfect pass out to Kightly.
Soon after Kightly, with the help of Ben Mee, responded by setting up goal number three. The two left hand side players linked up and when Mee went on the overlap he received the perfect ball from Kightly. He pulled it back for Vokes to score left footed via a deflection from defender Jamaal Lascelles. That goal came after Michael Duff was denied his first goal of the season with the flag going up after he’d headed in a Jones free kick.
There were still ten minutes to go to half time when the third goal went in and we’d just brushed Forest away. There might have been more too as we continued to go on the rampage right up to the whistle. The ovation as the players left the pitch at half time was as good as anything I can recall. All three home stands showed their appreciation while the disillusioned Forest fans booed off their players and manager.
Dyche talks about this one club mentality at Burnley, of everyone pulling together. Those Forest fans had seen their side lose none of the last fourteen games but did not have the patience or stomach for it after seeing their team totally outplayed for 45 minutes.
The Forest players were out early for the second half, not quite as early as Steve McClaren sent his Forest players back out in 2011, the last time Burnley held a three goal lead at half time at home, but they were still early. They might well have been ready for home had Vokes been able to turn in an early Danny Ings cross right at the start of the half.
You knew Forest would try and fight back, and they did. Tom Heaton made a superb save to tip an effort onto the bar, and then Trippier headed off the line. They were pushing forward but we were still creating more chances than they were. The best of the lot fell the way of Ings when a Mee cross was touched onto him. We just waited for the net to bulge as he hammered home from around the penalty box but he hit his shot over the bar. He might have scored with another chance that went just wide and then Duff, clearly eager to join in having had one disallowed, was inches away from turning in a cross at the far post.
Keith Treacy and Ashley Barnes were both introduced in the second half for Kightly and Vokes, but with just over ten minutes to go it was still 3-0. We’d well and truly seen them off and we were cruising to victory. Then, out of the blue, Forest pulled one back. They won a penalty. It looked soft but whether it was or it wasn’t , it came about after a clear foul on Arfield had gone unpunished. Djamal Abdoun took the spot kick. It was saved by Heaton but Abdoun was first to the rebound and made no mistake.
The crowd, momentarily, just got a bit nervous. I’m not so sure why we did but the players didn’t. Yes, Paterson shot just wide but in truth we saw them off without too much trouble. and the points were ours. The whole performance had been exceptional but that first half will live long in the memories of all the Burnley fans there to see it.
We’ve done the debate. the comparison between this team and the one that went up five years ago. Whatever happens in the remaining games, there is no debate for me, this team is better and I’d say this is the best team I’ve seen at Burnley since Dobbo, Taffy and Casper were strutting their stuff.
And as for comparisons between that team and this, I must refer back to Vokes. It took me a long, long time to warm to the idea that Vokes was a good striker at this level, but his performances this season have proved me wrong time and time again. Yesterday he exceeded anything I’ve seen from him before and I wrote on the message board that I thought his performance was as good a centre-forward performance as I’ve seen from a Burnley player since Paul Fletcher and those who know me know how highly I rated Fletch (but don’t tell him if you see him).
That’s how good Vokes was for me yesterday but let’s not forget all the other twelve players who were on the pitch. Everyone of them contributed to that performance and that win.
Forest, and their Little Billy, were very much felled and flattened by this outstanding Burnley team managed and coached by a group of ex-Forest players who have very quickly established themselves as another outstanding Turf Moor team.
Have I gone over the top? Did I see something others didn’t see yesterday? Take a look at some of the comments from fellow Clarets on the message board
daveisaclaret – “The first half today was brilliant though. Brilliant. Not sure I’ve seen Burnley play a better 34 minutes at this level, seriously.”
claretspice – “Forest simply had no answer to our determination, work rate and quality. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Burnley team produce a more comprehensive half of football, ever.”
clareturion – “A convincing win with a first half as good as I can remember for a long, long time.”
fungus_the_bogeyman – “What a first half performance. This is one hell of a side we have right now. So proud tonight! That was fantastic!”
Luppy – “This is a team that came here unbeaten in the league in I don’t know how long and at half time they were lucky to be only 3 down. We absolutely battered them.”
Hoskinsgoalatswansea – “Can’t remember a first half as good as that, and the overall performance was even better than the QPR game at home, and that was pretty special.”
LancasterClaret – “The first half was the best I’ve seen us play. We could and probably should have been out of sight by half time. Second half was a lot closer, but we had as many chances as they did to extend the lead and I think 3-1 flattered Forest.”
And there were many, many more similar comments.
63 points too, that’s one more than we ended last season with and two more than we finished with in 2011/12, and with fourteen games still to go.
Dyche will now have told his players to move onto the next game and start preparing for Derby. I’ll wait a few days yet and revel in this brilliant win for a while longer.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Scott Arfield, Dean Marney, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Keith Treacy 61), Danny Ings, Sam Vokes (Ashley Barnes 76). Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Kevin Long, David Edgar, Ross Wallace, Junior Stanislas.
Nottingham Forest: Karl Darlow, Greg Halford, Jamaal Lascelles, Danny Collins, Danny Fox, Gonzalo Jara Reyes (Darius Henderson 82), Guy Moussi (Jonathan Greening 75), Jamie Mackie, Jamie Paterson, Djamal Abdoun, Raffik Djebbour (Simon Cox 75). Subs not used: Dorus De Vries, Eric Lichaj, Dan Harding, Matt Derbyshire.
Yellow Cards: Danny Fox, Jonathan Greening.
Referee: Andy D’Urso (Billericay).
A week later, goals from David Jones and Dean Marney secured a 2-0 win against Derby before we went to Ewood and came back from behind to beat them 2-1 with goals from Jason Shackell and Danny Ings. You can read HERE about that Ewood Park win. By then I was convinced we were Premier League bound.Share this page :