The Saints came marching back
When Matěj Vydra scored to give us a 2-0 lead at Southampton with just under half an hour gone it looked very much as if we were on course for three more points in what would have been a fifth away win of the season.
It didn’t quite work out like that. By half time it was all square at 2-2 and it was Southampton who went on to score the crucial goal in the second half that gave them the win and took them three points away from us in the Premier League table.
With us still looking for points to ensure safety, it was a major disappointment to come home with nothing but, having won at Everton last time out, it does mean we are returning home for the Newcastle game next week with three points from two away games.
Sean Dyche was able to name an unchanged team from that which had started at Goodison three weeks earlier and could also name fit again Charlie Taylor and Jack Cork on the bench. Unfortunately we were without Irish pair Kevin Long and Robbie Brady through injury with Phil Bardsley also missing following the sad death of his granddad Allan Bardsley.
I wasn’t expecting that to happen again but happen it did. We were even very close to scoring in the very first minute of the game through Chris Wood only for his toe poked effort to go just wide of the post.
It didn’t take too long though. Dwight McNeil played the ball wide for Erik Pieters who got into the box on the left hand side to cross. Kyle Walker-Peters got across to prevent the ball being played into the danger zone and Pieters went down injured. Eventually we were able to see a replay on television and there surely could be no option but to award us a penalty. Jon Moss on VAR advised referee Andre Marriner to take another look. It didn’t take long, a penalty it was and Chris Wood converted it to score his 41st Premier League goal for Burnley, bringing him level with Ashley Barnes.
We were looking so good and were so much on top. If only we could get a second I thought and it came just before the half hour. Again Wood was involved as he got up to win the ball in the air from a ball played up by Ben Mee. His header was absolutely perfect for Matěj Vydra who hammered home with a left foot shot from just outside the box. Remember his goal there last season? It was somewhat different but probably yesterday’s was struck from only a couple of yards from the same spot as last season’s.
We probably needed to keep the two goal advantage longer than we did but I don’t think anyone could have expected the last fifteen minutes of the first half given what we’d seen in the first half hour.
That two goal advantage lasted just three minutes before Danny Ings set up Stuart Armstrong and when Mee’s mistake let in Ings three minutes before the break, the former Burnley striker did ever so well to bring the sides level. That was a third goal in three games for Ings against us. We as much as anyone know how good a player he is and he left the pitch at half time with an assist and a goal with us probably wishing he’d delayed his return from injury by another week.
To make matters worse, it was a double whammy for the Clarets after the first of those goals when we finally had to withdraw Pieters who had been as good as any player on the pitch. At least Charlie Taylor was back to come on as his replacement.
We were then thankful to Nick Pope for keeping us level with one superb save after a shot had been deflected off Mee, and then he saved brilliantly to deny Ings a second with what would have been almost a replica of his goal against us there last season. Unfortunately, Theo Walcott kept the ball in play, got it back across for Nathan Redmond to fire home what proved to be the winning goal.
Now it was up to us to try and rescue something and twice we came close through Wood. Fraser Forster followed Pope with a top class save of his own when Wood curled a shot towards the corner from the edge of the box and then denied the same player whose header was too close to him.
Jan Bednarek will have gone home last night wondering how on earth he hadn’t followed Walker-Peters in giving away a penalty. They don’t come much clearer as he grabbed Wood’s shirt to prevent him getting a good contact on the ball.
It proved to be our final chance, indeed Southampton should have added a fourth right at the end. We’d pushed up allowing Ché Adams to break but he somehow managed to shoot wide.
And so a first defeat since Spurs but at least not too much damage done with Newcastle, Fulham and Brighton picking up just one point between them in the games that followed.
Losing a two goal lead is not something we do very often. I’ve not looked it up but I suspect the last time was back in January 2015. We led 2-0 at home against Crystal Palace with goals from Mee, his first Premier League goal, an Ings after just 16 minutes but went on to lose 3-2.
Did we deserve anything yesterday? Maybe not in the end but we shouldn’t forget the first half hour when we played so well, nor the incredible decision not to award us a penalty for the shirt pull on Wood.
The teams were;
Southampton: Fraser Forster, Kyle Walker-Peters, Jan Bednarek, Jannik Vestergaard, Ryan Bertrand, Stuart Armstrong (Mohammed Salisu 79), James Ward-Prowse, Ibrahima Diallo, Theo Walcott (Moussa Djenepo 87), Danny Ings (Ché Adams 86), Nathan Redmond. Subs not used: Alex McCarthy, Jack Stephens, Takumi Minamino, Nathan Tella, Will Ferry, Alexandre Jankewitz.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters (Charlie Taylor 33), Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Lewis Richardson 89), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Chris Wood, Matěj Vydra (Jay Rodriguez 78). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Jimmy Dunne, Richard Nartey, Anthony Glennon, Dale Stephens, Jack Cork.
Referee: Andre Marriner (Birmingham).