Late goal ends hopes of a third straight win
Burnley came within around a quarter of an hour of making it three successive Premier League wins but an 80th minute goal earned Sheffield United a point from a 1-1 draw in what proved to be a less than exciting game at the Turf.
We’d led through a James Tarkowski goal a couple of minutes before half time and the game had reached the point where a win looked likely until John Egan scored the equaliser that had come via a right wing corner.
Once more, as it is for all of us, it was back in front of the television yesterday, once again with friends on a Face Time call. Had I been at the Turf I would have appreciated just how difficult the conditions were. You know that on a very windy day, the chance of getting a really good game of football diminishes significantly, but when you are sat at home in front of the magic lantern you fail to appreciate just how difficult the conditions are.
It’s hard to believe that for our previous home game against Watford, we played in temperatures over 30 degrees; yesterday with strong winds and heavy rain a times it was more like a winter’s afternoon.
At around an hour before kick off we were again digesting the team news. The ‘Sean Dyche names an unchanged team’ scenario has long gone since we resumed football with players still coming back from injury and others picking up injuries. Jay Rodriguez had missed out at Crystal Palace but he was back, replacing the now injured Jack Cork.
It was all a bit of a shuffle. Long slotted in for Mee while we returned to a 4-4-2 formation with Josh Brownhill moving in to partner Ashley Westwood in the centre of midfield and Dwight McNeil, for the first half at least, shifting onto the right. Tarkowski took the captain’s armband for the first time in the Premier League. He said: “It’s a great honour to lead Burnley out in the Premier League. It’s something I’m really proud of, to lead out these lads who give everything every week.”
The better news for Tarky and Burnley was the bench looking somewhat stronger. We had nine players on it again for a start and, for the first time since the resumption, we didn’t have to include two goalkeepers. Although Dyche said they weren’t quite there yet, he was able to add Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady and Chris Wood to his bench along with Josh Benson, who is now cleared to play with us moving into July.
It’s fair to say that our visitors started the brighter of the two teams and only a Nick Pope style save with his legs prevented Sheffield United from taking a very early lead through Oli McBurnie. It was a difficult start for us in the opening minutes against a side who are having a terrific first season back in the Premier League.
The game settled down and, overall, I thought we probably had the best of things over the first half and we definitely had the best chance when Erik Pieters played in Matěj Vydra who looked a certain scorer only to place his shot wide of Dean Henderson’s goal.
We won a free kick out on the left which McNeil took. Jay Rod headed it across the box and there was Tarky, ahead of McBurnie, to slide the ball home expertly. Our group all immediately thought it was offside but the goal was given, and rightly so, as we saw when VAR shoved the lines across the pitch to confirm it was a good decision by the assistant referee.
The second half struggled to get going at times. They made a couple of early changes and I thought that potentially benefited us. It was all stop start and at no point did I ever think we were in much danger and we got to the drinks break, when Chris Wilder got his Bovril, without any real concerns.
At this point we brought on Wood while soon after they made another couple of changes and eventually the result was all decided in two incidents around two minutes apart. Rodriguez hit a speculative shot on target that Henderson could only parry into the path of McNeil. It looked a definite 2-0 but, like Vydra in the first half, McNeil’s shot went wide of the right hand post.
Soon after, a mix up between McNeil and Charlie Taylor allowed them to get down the right with Brownhill getting across to get the ball out for a corner. Billy Sharp got to it, he found Egan and the Blades were level.
A win would have seen us go back up to eighth in the table but right now we are ninth and tonight will drop down to tenth with either Spurs or Everton going above us. The one big problem we are going to have now is getting a team out for the remaining games as the injuries continue to hit. Right at the end of the game we were forced to withdraw Pieters and, quite simply, with our stretched squad, we can only hope that it was something and nothing.
Despite all the problems of injuries and players leaving, that’s seven points from the last three games in which we’ve only conceded one goal. How long we can keep this up remains to be seen but it is fantastic to see us right now sat on 46 points.
Now it’s on to Wednesday and another long trip saved, just a switch of the channels from Sky to BT Sport.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Erik Pieters (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 90+5), Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra (Chris Wood 69). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Bobby Thomas, Josh Benson, Mace Goodridge, Robbie Brady, Max Thompson.
Sheffield United: Dean Henderson, Chris Basham (Jack Rodwell 75), John Egan, Jack Robinson (Jack O’Connell 55), George Baldock, Sander Berge, Oliver Norwood (Billy Sharp 54), Ben Osborn, Enda Stevens, Oli McBurnie (Lys Mousset 71), David McGoldrick. Subs not used: Simon Moore, Phil Jagielka, Luke Freeman, Richairo Živković.
Referee: Peter Bankes (Liverpool).
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