Wood gives Clarets the heads up against Newcastle
It had been a torrid week for us with those defeats against Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur so yesterday’s 1-0 home win against Newcastle United was always going to be very welcome no matter how it came.
I think to suggest it wasn’t the greatest game ever seen at Turf Moor could be considered something of a huge understatement. It was played in horrible conditions on a day when goalscoring opportunities were at a premium, but we got the one that counted when Chris Wood headed home an Ashley Westwood corner just before the hour to take us up to 21 points, our second best return in a Premier League season after 17 games.
Horrible conditions did I say? The sun did appear at one point yesterday but so did the rain, the hail and the snow with high winds throughout and we know that never makes for good football. It was a case of shower dodging getting there but that was something I managed although the lads from London Clarets who were on Clarets for Foodbanks duty took all that the Burnley weather had to offer.
We were hoping for some good news when the team was announced an hour ahead of kick off and it was as good as we could have expected with all of Phil Bardsley, Ashley Westwood and Ashley Barnes able to return and they came back in at the expense of Matt Lowton, Robbie Brady and Jay Rodriguez. The substitutes were named but one of them, Ben Gibson, had to be withdrawn after pulling up in the warm up. It left us without central defensive cover and, given what happened during the game, I suspect Newcastle had picked up on that. They too have had injury problems and had some players missing who you might have expected to be involved otherwise.
There wasn’t too much that happened in the first half to worthy of reporting. We had a handball shout against Paul Dummett, who scored our first ever Premier League goal against Newcastle back on New Year’s Day 2015. It went to Kevin Friend at VAR and I think he got that one right. There was little Dummett could have done to avoid the ball hitting his arm.
At the other end, Joelinton (did they really pay £40 million for him?) made two contributions with fouls on Tarkowski that, in my view, could have seen him walking for two yellow cards. Other than an Andy Carroll header earlier in the half, that was about all they had to offer up to half time but it is fair to say we hadn’t threatened their goal much more.
The opening few minutes of the second half were concerning. Newcastle tried to take the game to us. Thankfully it didn’t last long and thankfully it came to nothing, and then we started to look the more likely without really creating too much.
Then came the crucial moment. Wood won us a corner on the left hand side, or so we thought. Referee Tim Robinson, who had a forgettable Premier League debut, incredibly awarded a goal kick while Newcastle manager Steve Bruce thought it should have been a free kick to his side. It was very definitely not a goal kick and Robinson, presumably under instruction from the assistant on the other side of the pitch, changed his decision. Was it a foul? If it was a foul, it was as soft as they come and I believe, ultimately we landed on the correct decision.
Newcastle didn’t seem particularly bothered about defending it; they seemed more interested in just grabbing hold of our players to stop them moving. What they hadn’t bargained for was Dúbravka being all at sea when Westwood’s superb corner came over, nor Fabian Schär getting his marking of Wood all wrong. Wood finished from all of two yards out for his seventh goal in the last ten games.
A second goal then and we could have all gone home knowing the points were in the bag, but there were two more big incidents when I thought the referee got it wrong, although with the second of them he deserved far more help than the clearly fast asleep assistant in front of the Longside.
In the first of those incidents, Ben Mee went down as if he’d been pole axed in an aerial challenge with Carroll. I don’t care how much our how little intent there was, that flying arm was dangerous and there was only one appropriate decision to make and that was to send off the Newcastle forward.
He got away with it and was still on the pitch to play the ball out to Joelinton on the right. He barged Erik Pieters in the back, got away with it, and crossed for substitute Dwight Gayle to miss their best chance. Had it gone in, VAR would have had to look at it and surely they would have picked up the foul. Mind you, that would mean you’d be relying on the nonsense that is Mike Riley’s VAR.
That miss apart, Newcastle never threatened to get back into it. Nick Pope didn’t make a save all afternoon although his handling of the ball, one incident apart, in these conditions was terrific.
The win has only taken us up one place in the table and should Brighton beat Palace tomorrow we” drop back to 13th. But for those whose glasses are half empty, I can confirm that we are now six points clear of the bottom three which is twice as far away as we were before kick off.
And don’t we look a better side with Westwood in the line up. I thought he and Cork were terrific in the midfield yesterday.
So that’s it, the Turf won’t open its doors again this side of Christmas. We’ve one pre-Christmas game left at Bournemouth and then it’s off to Goodison on Boxing Day before Manchester United pitch up in two weeks time for a Saturday evening kick off.
I think we’ll all take 21 points at this stage of the season, and just to think, a year ago we sat here with 12 points with all the concerns in the world.
So, no classic yesterday but three points and we are all home and warm again. And, Steve Bruce, even the BBC’s resident Mag Alan Shearer saw nothing in the challenge that you thought robbed your side. A foul? Haddaway man and loss yasel, there’s nee way that was a foul, like. Gan yem.
The teams were;
Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood (Jay Rodriguez 85). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Danny Drinkwater, Aaron Lennon, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.
Newcastle: Martin Dúbravka, Federico Fernández, Fabian Schär, Paul Dummett, Javier Manquillo, Isaac Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Jetro Willems (Dwight Gayle 71), Christian Atsu (Yoshinori Mutō 80), Andy Carroll, Joelinton. Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Emil Krafth, Florian Lejeune, Rob Elliot, Deandre Yedlin, Matty Longstaff.
Yellow Cards: Joelinton, Andy Carroll.
Referee: Tim Robinson (Bognor Regis)
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