Jay Rod’s night as Clarets reach the last sixteen
Ten years ago, Jay Rodriguez scored four times in a 6-3 League Cup win against Burton Albion, and he repeated it last night to help the Clarets turn a 1-0 deficit against Rochdale into a 4-1 victory and a place in the fourth round of the same competition.
I have to say that I do go to these games now with some trepidation. Until Manchester City ended the run last season, we’d gone out of this competition to a team from a lower division in each of the previous six seasons. In those six seasons we’d recorded only one victory, that night at Ewood in 2017.
We’ve gone into some of those games with a strong team, just a lot of changes. For instance, having beaten Liverpool in 2016, we then travelled to Accrington and made ten changes. Last night it was eight changes, but it still looked a strong team, and we did go into the game having beaten a Premier League team in the previous round, albeit we took better penalties than Newcastle.
So, despite our opponents currently playing their football in League Two, I was there probably more in hope than with any belief we’d be in the hat for tonight’s draw, and, I suppose, at a fiver for old chaps like myself, it would be rude not to be there.
The starting line-up also included crowd favourite Matěj Vydra up front with even more interest for the supporters with recent signing Maxwel Cornet getting a start on the left hand side following his half hour last Saturday.
I have to go back to August two years ago since I last attended a game in this competition. That night our visitors were Sunderland from League One. We played them off the park for over half an hour, led 1-0 through Rodriguez, but then proceeded to concede three goals in a quarter of an hour and out we went.
It was Rochdale who were first to come close to scoring. With just a few minutes gone, Pope was forced to save with his feet to deny Jake Beesley. Was it going to be another of those nights in the League Cup?
Much centred on Cornet who had three chances to score. He latched on to through balls from Jack Cork and Tarkowski for the first two but was denied by ‘Dale keeper Jay Lynch both times. I thought the second save in particular was outstanding from Lynch.
After a brilliant link up between the two strikers, Rodriguez and Vydra, Cornet went clear again. This time I thought he should have scored but he placed his shot wide of the target. Although he still awaits a first Burnley goal, he made his mark in the second half.
We should have been in front at half time, but we weren’t so those worries remained, and those worries worsened just after the start of the second half. With less than two minutes gone we fell behind. Sean Dyche felt Cork was fouled in the build up; I did too but there was no denying the finish from Beesley.
I suppose what it needed was a quick response and, thankfully, it came. We won a corner in the right. It was a Cornet corner, it found Rodriguez who headed it home expertly before heading towards Cornet who clearly has already become a very popular member of the dressing room.
Now we had some impetus and right on the hour we went in front. Cornet was again involved, this time getting into the box on the left hand side before playing in the ball low for Vydra who laid it back to Jay to score his second.
It was all over as a contest two minutes later when Burnley and Rodriguez got a third. This time it was a left wing corner taken by Westwood. He played it to Cornet, got the ball back and Rodriguez expertly headed home the cross.
With around half an hour to go it was all over as a contest. Jay’s hat trick had given us a two goal advantage that Rochdale never really threatened to reduce, and it was no surprise when we added a fourth.
It initially looked like an own goal, but Jay got the last touch to claim it although the defender’s touch did rob Aaron Lennon of a much deserved assist. Jay left immediately to a standing ovation and then Matt Lowton replaced Westwood and played in the centre of midfield.
There were no more goals although there could have been and when the final whistle went, all those nightmares of Port Vale, Accrington, Burton and more were forgotten, all the concerns when Rochdale scored went too. We were through, and comfortably so and the first time we’ve scored four goals in a League Cup tie since the first time Dyche took charge of the Clarets in this competition. That night we won 4-0 with goals from David Jones, Junior Stanislas, Danny Ings and Scott Arfield.
Yes, his night, but there are two other players who, in my view, should get a special mention. One is clearly Cornet; the other being Lennon. I know this was against a League Two club and, therefore, far removed from playing against a top Premier League side but both impressed hugely.
The name Cornet is on everyone’s lips. He might have had a first half hat trick, although all credit to the goalkeeper for denying him twice, but he kept playing, kept exciting the crowd and was a considerable influence in the second half playing a part in three of the four goals. I suspect he’s going to become a really exciting player for us and a player who is potentially destined to play a major part.
Lennon is different in that he is experienced, and he knows the Premier League and knows our club. Last night, in the second half in particular, he looked like the Lennon of old getting forward at pace and causing them problems. He might not become a regular starter for us again but he’s very much a player who can still play an important role for us.
Overall, it was a team performance and at least it’s not another League Cup obituary I’m writing, more I’m writing about a big, convincing win and now looking forward to tonight’s draw.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski, Erik Pieters, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood (Matt Lowton 78), Jack Cork, Maxwel Cornet, Jay Rodriguez (Chris Wood 77), Matěj Vydra. Subs not used: Will Norris, Bobby Thomas, Charlie Taylor, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Barnes.
Yellow Card: James Tarkowski.
Rochdale: Jay Lynch, Max Taylor, Eoghan O’Connell, Jeriel Dorsett, Corey O’Keeffe, Stephen Dooley (George Broadbent 74), Aaron Morley, Jimmy Keohane, Jake Beesley, Abraham Odoh (Josh Andrews 74), Danny Cashman (Liam Kelly 84). Subs not used: Joel Coleman, Jimmy McNulty, Alex Newby, Matty Done.
Yellow Cards: Corey O’Keeffe, Eoghan O’Connell.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Sunderland).