VAR farce at the King Power
Burnley suffered a first defeat since August yesterday when, despite taking a first half lead through Chris Wood, we were beaten 2-1 by Leicester on a day when the one major talking point was the use of VAR that ruled out a potential Burnley equaliser with ten minutes of the match remaining.
There is only one place to start this report and it is that 80th minute incident when we thought we’d won ourselves a point. Initially I thought Wood had scored his second of the game against his former club but it was a Jonny Evans own goal. The Burnley fans couldn’t have been much further away from it at the far end of the stadium but I started to get concerned over how long referee Jon Moss stood there with his finger in his ear after he had awarded the goal.
Once it takes so long it gives the impression that it will be overturned and it duly was. I don’t need to go into it in any great detail, everyone will have seen it, but in my view the decision to overturn the goal is downright ridiculous. This is the VAR that didn’t overturn the poor stoppage time penalty against us at Wolves which cost us two points; this is the VAR that chose to miss the clear penalty for a foul on Ashley Barnes against Norwich but quite how on earth it found any just reason to disallow this goal is beyond me and many others at the game along with those who have seen it since.
Sean Dyche said after the game: “If goals start not being given for that we’re in trouble,” and I totally agree with him on that. Where I don’t agree with our manager is the fact that he is a big fan of VAR. I’d much prefer the incorrect decisions just being made on the field and I saw a comment from one Leicester fan after the game, he said: “Delighted we’ve won, but just seen the disallowed Burnley goal, what a shambles, definitely should have counted.”
Unfortunately it didn’t count, we were beaten on an afternoon when things could have been so different and the one big positive about this game is how well we did against a Leicester side who are apparently the next big thing in the Premier League.
They say travelling in England can be difficult at times. Yesterday was our fifth away game of the season and it was the fifth time we’ve encountered problems. It was a carnival in London for the Arsenal trip, an accident on the A556 going to Wolves, cancelled trains on the Brighton trip and an accident on the M6 on the way to Aston Villa. Yesterday’s journey was always going to be via the M1 because of our West Yorkshire contingent and, guess what, the M1 was closed because of an accident and we were diverted via the A1 and M18 although, in fairness, it didn’t cause too much delay.
We were still at our chosen watering and eating hole in plenty of time which, unlike many of our choices, is not too far from the ground at just under two miles so we decided to walk it to the King Power and leave the car there. We arrived at the turnstiles in good enough time even given the long delays in getting people in although there was panic for us programme collectors that they’d actually sold out but it looks as though I have been rescued by a friend of mine although, if he reads this report, he’ll probably dispute the word friend.
We knew there was going to be one change from the team that beat Everton given the injury suffered by Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson but Ashley Barnes didn’t make it either. That saw Robbie Brady and Jay Rodriguez come into the team. For Brady, it was a start at the ground where everything started to go wrong for him, where he suffered his serious injury two seasons ago and it was a first ever Burnley Premier League start for Rodriguez as we started without the Barnes and Wood partnership for the first time since last Boxing Day. Whatever anyone’s thoughts on that pair up front, in 27 consecutive Premier League games they’ve started together they’ve scored a total of 25 goals. That is some record.
Other than that, it was the same team that had beaten Everton with Erik Pieters fit to resume at left back for a game that I think we always thought was going to be a tough one for us but after a concerning, hairy scary opening few minutes we looked by far the better side for much of the first half.
There were some shaky moments. Matt Lowton gone one good block in and Nick Pope made one good save but we always looked dangerous. Wood had one chance when a loose ball dropped to him although he couldn’t quite get enough on it, but when his next chance came were in front.
The striker actually started it all by taking control of a ball forward, and getting it out to Dwight McNeil who was playing on the right. McNeil crossed the ball left footed and Wood rose between their two central defenders to head home. Kasper Schmeichel got a touch to it but was powerless to stop the header flying into the top corner.
That was midway through the half and from then until close to half time there was never really any threat to our goal. Jamie Vardy, who was taunted by Burnley fans with chants of Rooney and Your Wife is a Grass, did put one effort into the side netting but right on half time he got his side an equaliser they hardly deserved, getting over Ben Mee to head home a left wing cross.
All square at half time then, just as we’d looked as though we would go in with a lead, but it had been a decent first half for the Clarets, and it was so good to see us playing in our home colours on the road, and there was every reason to optimistic of winning points for a fourth successive away game.
It didn’t quite work out like that. Leicester did step things up in the second half and we struggled to get enough of the ball as they had the lion’s share of the play. Despite them being in the ascendancy, they were hardly creating anything of note and not once until they scored what proved to be the winner did they force Pope into a second half save.
That winner came with 16 minutes remaining. Some good play down the right led to substitute Demarai Gray crossing the ball. It fell for Youri Tielemans who hammered home his shot into the roof of the net.
Then came the big moment. Lowton crossed, Wood had his shot saved by Schmeichel and Evans turned the rebound into his own net. Referee Moss, who was so far away he might as well have been at the rugby ground saw nothing wrong. That the goal was refused by VAR, in my view, is nothing short of an embarrassing joke. And, needless to say, those of us inside the King Power were given no information whatsoever as to why the goal had been disallowed. Having said that, no one with any common sense could have even thought of a reason.
I know it won’t happen, but I wish the Premier League would suspend the whole thing until we can actually getting it working properly. It clearly isn’t and it is must be a huge problem for them.
That, in truth, was the last real chance for us. We gave it absolutely everything as Leicester pulled all eleven players behind the ball but, in fairness, they saw the game out quite comfortably in the end and a third defeat of the season it was. But this was a decent performance and we deserved much more than the hand we were dealt by the officials.
Down on the concourse after the final whistle there was real anger from Burnley fans who by then had seen the replays. I was getting texts from people telling me we had been robbed of a point by a shocking decision. There was every justification for that anger and those texting were absolutely right.
The teams were;
Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Jonny Evans, Çaglar Söyüncü, Ben Chilwell, Wilfred Ndidi, Ajoze Pérez (Demarai Gray 67), Youri Tielemans, James Maddison (Dennis Praet 73), Harvey Barnes (Wes Morgan 79), Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Danny Ward, James Justin, Marc Albrighton, Hamza Choudhury.
Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Dwight McNeil, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Robbie Brady (Aaron Lennon 65), Jay Rodriguez (Matěj Vydra 83), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Charlie Taylor.
Yellow Cards: Jeff Hendrick, Chris Wood, Matt Lowton.
Referee: Jon Moss (Leeds).
Attendance: 32,105 (including 1,267 Clarets).
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