Vinny’s Lion Tamers
It took a while, we’d played over an hour before we got ourselves in front, but Vincent Kompany finally got his first home win as Burnley manager with our 2-0 victory against Millwall last night.
There was no doubt whatsoever that we fully deserved the win as the Turf Moor crowd roared their approval at what, in the last couple of years, has become an all too rare event. Millwall, as we expected, were a tough nut to crack but once cracked they had no answer to us and the scoreline might, in the end, have been more emphatic.
This was another home game played in non-Burnley type weather with the sun beating down again as we all made our way to the Turf but thankfully it had disappeared from my view ahead of kick off, making its way round the back of the Longside.
That was just as the teams came out and we had an unchanged team from that which had started at Wigan with the only change coming on the bench where Dara Costelloe was preferred to CJ Egan-Riley.
We soon found out Millwall’s plan. They conceded any number of free kicks in the opening exchanges and quite why it took referee Leigh Doughty as long as eighteen minutes to use his card for the first time, only he will know. By half time, he’d shown cards to three Millwall players and the first two of them, Charlie Cresswell and Shaun Hutchinson, could count themselves extremely fortunate to still be on the pitch.
For much of the half, Millwall’s approach worked. They frustrated us and finding clear openings was difficult. Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was a threat. He had an early shot that whistled just past the post and then saw Bartosz Bialkowski deny him with a smart save from a free kick with Charlie Taylor seeing the keeper save his shot on the rebound.
Millwall’s only real response at this stage had also come from a free kick that brought a top save from Arijanet Muric from Andreas Voglsammer’s shot. Muric had some half. He was close to getting an assist to with a long, Ederson style, kick out that Nathan Tella got on to with great control. That ended with a Burnley free kick too.
Nothing much changed at the start of the second half other than Millwall possibly getting just a little more of the game and they did find the outside of the post with one shot. We needed to find something different, and we did. It came from the bench. Just before the hour, Guðmundsson, who had again played well, gave way to Manuel Benson whose approach down the right was always going to change things.
He’d already got one dangerous ball into the box but soon after, a nice passing move on the right hand side between Josh Brownhill, Connor Roberts, Jack Cork and Benson, he curled in a ball left footed from the corner of the box. I wasn’t sure, at the time, whether Jay Rodriguez had got a head to it. He hadn’t, but Vitinho did as he came racing in to head home at the far post for his first Burnley goal.
Vitinho seemed to enjoy it and the rest of the Turf did. All the frustration of the hours play without a goal had gone and everyone was ready to enjoy the remainder of the game, although we had one awkward moment to deal with before clinching it with a second.
The place was bouncing by now and when Muric cleared a ball, all eyes looked towards the Jimmy Mac end, but Muric was down on the ground. It was obvious very quickly that he wouldn’t be able to continue and it seems he picked up the injury making that save in the first half. Coming on as a substitute goalkeeper must be one of the most difficult things to do but within just a few minutes of coming on, Bailey Peacock-Farrell was able to see us go two up.
Cork, who had a simply outstanding game, played the ball to Roberts and the full back moved forward before sliding a ball in for Brownhill on the right hand side of the box. His shot was stopped by Bialkowski but the goalkeeper could do nothing about Jay Rod’s follow up shot which, a proper striker’s goal. We were 2-0 up and there was to be never going to be a chance of a comeback from Millwall.
We might have added to the two goals and the, in the closing minutes, Millwall did have a couple of attacks that we dealt with comfortably. As the game was nearing its end, with the game won, with the points ours, I didn’t want the frustration of not keeping a clean sheet. We got one, only the second of the season in the league, but we got one.
Teams will come to spoil, as they did and as others have done this season. We need to remain patient when we don’t get that breakthrough. I do believe that the patience was there on the pitch yet maybe not so much in the stands where it is so easy to get frustrated.
There was no frustration at the end, there was that big feeling of delight from our fans as we left, just as there had been at Wigan last Saturday. I still love winning away, but a home win is a joy too when there have been so few in the last two years or so.
The league table didn’t look bad either when I got home. We were sixteenth when we set off for Wigan; it’s surprising what two wins will do at this stage of the season. It’s good to see us sitting in third place but there’s a long, long way to go yet.
The teams were;
Burnley: Arijanet Muric (Bailey Peacock-Farrell 68), Connor Roberts, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Charlie Taylor, Vitinho, Jack Cork, Josh Cullen, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Manuel Benson 57), Josh Brownhill, Nathan Tella (Dara Costelloe 82), Jay Rodriguez (Ashley Barnes 82). Subs not used: Matt Lowton, Samuel Bastien, Darko Churlinov.
Millwall: Bartosz Bialkowski, Charlie Cresswell (George Honeyman 73), Shaun Hutchinson, Jake Cooper, Danny McNamara, Jamie Shackleton (Billy Mitchell 83), George Saville, Murray Wallace (Scott Malone 83), Zian Flemming, Andreas Voglsammer (Tyler Burey 73), Tom Bradshaw (Benik Afobe 74). Subs not used: George Long, George Evans.
Yellow Cards: Charlie Cresswell, Shaun Hutchinson, Andreas Voglsammer
Referee: Leigh Doughty (Blackpool).
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