Burnley 2 - West Bromwich Albion 1
On the whistle thoughts. Very frustrating one… feels like an opportunity lost.
No argument with the 11 with Phillips out and Grady coming in although I did think it was madness bringing players on at 3-0 on Tuesday… it was always risky.
The surprise was the the system with it more 4-4-2 and Wallace as a second striker and Grady/Swift off the wrong wings. It shocked Burnley to begin with and we scored early after being on top but you’ve got to be honest - from then on we surrendered possession and territory unlike we have at all under Corberan.
The warnings were there and the ref was lenient on us as we escaped HT with a clean sheet.
I really hoped we’d switch back to our 4-2-3-1 at HT to get a foothold but we didn’t, although Swift and Grady went onto their natural sides. It wasn’t enough to stop Burnley dominating and there were more lucky escapes.
When Rogic came on for Swift you thought that would be the moment to pack the middle but it was like-for-like and outright weakened us with Burnley equalising soon after. Yokuslu was off at the time getting treatment but Rogic isn’t a gritty player, quick or a grafter… it was an odd sub.
Reach came on with 10 to go weakening us further and then under pressure Wallace conceded a free kick which was superbly clipped into the top corner.
So overall disappointing that we didn’t go and play our game and go toe-to-toe with them. I think Corberan is brilliant but I can recall only twice him deviating from the 4-2-3-1: Coventry and today. He over thought it tonight.
Burnley are a good side and there’s no shame in it but with BTA and Phillips I’d have fancied us, and I felt there was still enough on the pitch tonight to beat them.
Have to say that I found that game deeply embarrassing.
To get a lucky early goal and then sit back and try to defend for 84+ mins was shocking. It was clear that we were never going to win and could consider ourselves lucky to scrape a point. Our front players weren’t in the game; where were the counter attacks?
It’s been a fantastic run but I found tonight’s game to be a big let down.
Burnley: a "hard-done by" tale from the bad old days
Despite Albion only having just entered the top six, the statistics, including Burnley having won the last seven and Albion the last four, would have suggested that this was as much as a "top of the table" clash as any that had been played amongst the sides that have been up there whilst Albion were shaking off the effects of the Bruce era, and indeed, the chance to go third, albeit merely overnight, would surely have been part of Corberan's pre-game message to the squad.
With Phillips not fit, we started with what, for me, is probably our strongest eleven, although why anyone would swap Wallace and Diangana off of their natural sides is beyond me, but once again we saw Diangana starting on the right.
Vincent Kompany's Burnley featured a couple of players that he'd brought in based on his experience managing over in Belgium and presumably also brought in to allow him to have his side play a more possession-based game. Up front though, Ashely Barnes got the nod ahead of ex-Albion man Rodriguez.
Both side looked to keep the ball early, along with looking to press when to in possession and although Burnley would have the first shot of the game around the five-minute mark, Albion's first real move saw the ball played across the edge if the home side's area where Dike played in Diangana whose shot was blocked for a corner.
From that corner Dike possibly didn't quite expect the ball to come to him and so his header was deflected away for a second corner, but from that one Darnel Furlong seemed to run in between four Burnley defenders and head home. Albion one-up inside seven minutes.
The early goal didn't really seem to change the keep-ball nature of the game all that much, although O'Shea's inability to find Furlong with the latter a mere ten yards away suggest a bit more work in the training ground wouldn't go amiss, with Barnes' heading over after a sweeping diagonal ball back out out to our right saw a cross had been delivered.
Fifteen minutes in Swift, popping up on the right flank, played in Dike but the big man was unable to make anything of it as his first touch let him down.
Burnley would have a couple of penalty shouts around the 18-minute mark, neither of which, when seen live looked like pens, however the second, when seen in slow-mo, might well have been given as Furlong's arm into the back of the attacker, sending the latter to the ground...
In the aftermath of the second appeal being turned away Albion got upfield down the right but Dike was unable to get past the covering defenders, nor get the ball to a team mate.
As the half-hour approached, the home side were getting more into the game, and another good showing from Burnley's Moroccan international left-winger played in Barnes, and his pull-back from the by-line was nearly turned into the net via a ricochet off a defender.
Swift would have a couple of shots blocked, after he chosen to have a dig himself rather than play in the overlapping Townsend and Albion had the ball in the net from a corner on 31, but Yokuslu had jumped into the keeper, causing him to spill it.
It would be Burnley's turn to have the ball in the net on 36, but here, Barnes's touch, on to what might have been a goalbound shot, had been made after his right foot was just about offside.
The commentator seemed to lose the plot a bit around this point, in telling his audience that Albion's FA Cup replay, some 72-hours ago, whilst having sapped them of some energy, would also have given them some momentum going into the game. I guess he'd failed to notice that of the starting XI, only Pieters had started against Chesterfield.
As the half drew to a close, Burnley seemed to be applying all the pressure and yet another cross from the Moroccan came through to Barnes, central on the on edge of the 6-yard box, but his shot hit the bar, whilst a minute after that, Burnley would have another shout for a penalty, when Furlong, only just booked, was chasing back into the box and the attacker went to ground but once again the referee didn't see enough to award the spot-kick.
Any hopes that Corberan's half-time talk might have told his players to take a bit more of grip on the game were soon dashed as Albion turned in a second-half of sit back and hope shyte, that was up there were the worst of those in the days of Harford, Megson or Pulis.
Perhaps ironically though, it was the high-line taken after a goal kick, around the 75-minute mark that led to the equaliser, the ball being played in behind Pieters, who was never going to make up any ground on the much quicker attacker, whose shot from the right was fired across Palmer and into the left side of the goal.
As if to compound the dreadful way in we'd approached the second half from the off, the loss of two the points we'd had saw us even go more into the shell around 82 minutes, with Reach coming on for Diangana, but three minutes later, we then went behind to what was an equivalent of all those "unlucky bounces in the box leading to a goal for the opposition" that we were always being told we were being hard done by in years gone by, when Burnley were awarded a free-kick, dead-centre and just outside the box, after the player looking to shoot actually kicked the ground with his foot. Then again, it could have been worse had the player been a foot inside the box I guess.
No matter whether it was a free-kick or not, Albion paid the full price for their woeful second-half performance, with Burnley's just-on substitute scoring his first goal for the club by curling a glorious free-kick up and over the seven-man wall - a wall which was part of an eleven-man defensive line inside our box - and into the side netting, giving Palmer no chance.
To say that bringing on Grant, for Molumby, after going behind was way too little and way too late would merely be stating the obvious, though probably less obvious, given that so little was asked of him, or any other attack-minded player, in the second-half, would be the observation that Dike doesn't look to be able to affect the game all that much, in that he certainly doesn't appear to be able to go past a player, unless it's after a "bull at a gate" style drive, as opposed to a dribble, and he didn't really bring anyone else into play, as a willing line leader, all that much in this one either.
In summary then, the "if only" to take from this one would be, if only Thomas-Assante had been the starting number nine after we'd taken that early lead, whilst the big plus will be that Burnley's football will surely see them take points off other sides who will be in the play-off mix, however the big negative has to be that Corberan might be as passive (scared?) as he was in the second half here and start dredging up dross from the "bad old days".
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