Another Fun Evening in Burnley

Porteous on the ball

Burnley on a Tuesday night.  In recent years, we have had a lot of midweek games at Turf Moor, so it has come to be expected.  The train journey took me via Leeds to Burnley Manchester Road and was pleasingly uneventful.  On arrival, I bumped into Ashley.  As he is localish, he was heading straight for the cricket club, while I headed to the hotel to check in.  As I walked up the hill on the last leg of the journey, a car pulled up in front of me.  When I reached it, I found Ross from Ayrshire behind the wheel, and he kindly drove me to the hotel.  We met Graham in the lobby and headed for the cricket club only to find that it hadn’t opened yet.  While we waited, we could see highlights being played on the big screen in the ground next door and the stewards having their pre-match briefing.  We were soon admitted and sitting down with a pint to wait for the rest of our party.  The food in the cricket club is excellent.  Most went for the pie, chips, peas and gravy, but I decided to try their hot chicken bap, which was roast chicken and stuffing, with the addition of chips and gravy that set me up nicely for the evening.

Choudhury prepares to take a free kick

The relative quiet in the bar was disturbed when there was a sudden influx of Watford fans, and it became apparent that the coaches had arrived.  Phil told me that they had got Don up the stairs to the first floor.  I was just contemplating going down to see him when I saw him appear at the top of the stairs, having been carried up by two guys with another following with his wheelchair, so he joined us for a couple of drinks which was rather lovely.

When we arrived at the ground, we were told that it was unreserved seating, so we joined the Happy Valleys and a couple of North West Hornets to watch the game. We were also joined by the Doves, which was lovely.

Team news was that there were two changes from the Blackburn game with Cleverley and Davis in for Martins and Araújo, but there was a late change as Cleverley was injured in the warm-up so had to be replaced by Sema.  So, the starting line-up was Bachmann; Kamara, Hoedt, Porteous, Gaspar; Sema, Choudhury, Koné; João Pedro, Davis, Sarr.  With the withdrawal of Cleverley, João Pedro was captain again.

João Pedro celebrating his goal

This was going to be a tough game.  Burnley were unbeaten at home in the league this season and were on a run of 10 league wins, looking for an 11th, which would be both a Championship and a club record.

Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s silence for those lost in the tragic earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

The Hornets almost went a goal down after 40 seconds as Gudmundsson ran on to a ball over the top from Maatson, Bachmann came out to make the block and the ball fell to Barnes whose shot was tipped onto the bar by the Watford keeper.  The home side threatened again when a through ball from Cullen to Tella in the box was blocked by Kamara.  The first chance for the Hornets came from a Sema free kick that flew past the far post.  At the other end, a shot from distance by Zaroury cleared the bar.  The home side had another chance to open the scoring from a corner to the near post, but Barnes could only find the side netting.  Then Gaspar went on a great run before putting in a cross that ran through to Muric in the Burnley goal.  The Hornets took a surprising lead just after the half hour.  Porteous played a lovely ball over the top towards Davis, Muric came out to meet it and made a hash of his clearance, Davis picked up the loose ball and passed to Sema who squared for João Pedro who found the net, sparking joyous celebrations among the travelling Hornets.  The home side were then forced to make a substitution as an injury to Beyer meant that he had to be replaced by Al-Dakhil.  Watford threatened again after Davis picked up the ball in midfield and went on a great run, but his progress was stopped by a defender.  There was a better chance soon after when Koné found João Pedro, but his shot cleared the bar.  At the other end, Zaroury hit a shot from distance that Bachmann was down to save.  The Hornets had one final chance to increase their lead before half time, but João Pedro shot straight at Muric.  So the Hornets went into the break a goal to the good after an impressive half of football.  The home side had dominated possession but had created very few chances.

King Ken takes a free kick

Burnley decided to change their keeper at the start of the second half, bringing Peacock-Farrell on for Muric.  The home side started the half with an exchange of passes that finished with a shot into the side netting.  Then Barnes hit a shot from distance that flew wide of the target.  Gaspar tried his luck with a shot that flew past the far post.  Gudmundsson was the next to try his luck, but his shot was straight at Bachmann.  The visitors won a corner and there were all sorts of shenanigans going on which resulted in Barnes being booked for a run-in with Hoedt.  The Burnley fans at the other end of the ground behind that goal were joining in with their players in trying to wind up the Watford boys and Hoedt was targeted again, this time by Al-Dakhil who ran into him and went down dramatically ‘needing’ treatment.  Even from the other end of the pitch, the play-acting was obvious.  I thought that Kompany may have injected some class into this team, but some things never change.  When they finally got around to taking the corner, it was flicked on to Tella whose close-range shot was blocked by Bachmann.  At this point Bilić made a double substitution bringing Araújo and Martins on for Sema and Davis.  Burnley then won a free kick in a dangerous position when Koné fouled Tella and was booked for his trouble.  Thankfully, the free kick came to nothing. 

Louza takes a free kick

Burnley then made a double substitution with the despicable Barnes making way for Foster, and Twine coming on in place of Gudmundsson.  The Hornets had a rare second half attack when Sarr went on a great run, breaking into the Burnley box, but he couldn’t find space to take a shot.  Watford then made a change bringing Louza on for Koné.  The Hornets threatened again when a through ball released Martins, he fed João Pedro who battled into the box, but the attentions of a defender ensured that the ball went out for a goal kick.  At the other end a deep cross was met by a header that was caught by Bachmann.  João Pedro was the next Watford player to be booked for a foul on Tella that resulted in a free kick for Burnley in a dangerous position.  Thankfully Twine’s delivery cleared both the wall and the bar.  The home side then made an attacking substitution bringing Obafemi on for Roberts, so Bilić countered by bringing Kabasele on for João Pedro.  As the clock ran down, the nerves were jangling in the away end.  Graham commented that, if he’d been at home, he would have gone for a walk so he didn’t have to watch it.  Colin was pacing up and down the gangway in the stands.  There were six minutes of added time and the Hornets seemed to have done a great job of keeping Burnley out, but they won a corner in the last minute of added time, it was flicked on to Foster who headed against the post, the ball fell to Obafemi who beat Bachmann with what was almost the last kick of the game.  I wrote a very rude word in my notebook. 

Choudhury escapes upfield

In the end, a draw was a fair result, although it was very disappointing to concede right at the end having defended resolutely.  The second half had been a real rearguard effort, but the chances for Burnley were again restricted.  Hoedt and Porteous are looking really solid in the centre of defence, you would think that they had been playing together for years.  What was especially pleasing was that it was a real team effort.  The past couple of performances have been building to this and it was great to see the Hornets matching the team that are running away with the division.  I was interested to hear the views of the Happy Valleys, who generally only see the games we play in the North.  They were all very impressed and said that they hadn’t seen anything like that performance so far this season.  It was certainly in stark contrast to their last match in Middlesbrough.  The signs were very encouraging indeed and, with performances like that, we now need fear nobody in this division.

After the match, we headed back to the cricket club which, in contrast to before the game was now full of claret and blue.  One local spotted our scarves and said that he thought they’d been lucky.  I am not sure that I agreed with him, but we had a good chat and he wished us well.  The cricket club has happy hour after the match, so the cheap beer, a warming bene and hot and a glass of wine certainly helped to lift our mood.  Not for the first time, we closed the cricket club and were back in our rooms after midnight.  It had been another fun night out in Burnley and it was very pleasing that the football match had contributed greatly to our enjoyment of the evening.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s