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Rovers 2 Burnley 1


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Match Report by Scotty

I'm 33 years old and I've never seen us lose to Burnley. According to the history books we've lost 5 times to them during my lifetime - but they all occured before I was 8 and I didn't see them.

We lined up with the same team that played at Burnley except Mokoena replaced the suspended Todd. That meant Gallagher started up front again - something I wasn't too pleased about beforehand - but it also meant that Savage and Dickov were fit.

The game started poorly, it was just a scrap to be honest, and neither team could get the ball down and pass it for any length of time. Burnley's 5 man midfield snapped into their tackles and closed down well, and we didn't show the necessary skill or technique to get past it. Savage managed to get booked after about 3 minutes as well but, watching it again on TV, he was a little unlucky as the Burnley player threw himself onto the floor like he'd been shot. Still, it was a daft, late challange so early in the game.

Slowly but surely though we started to exert some pressure and gradually gained control of the game without ever looking brilliant. A period of sustained pressure around the half hour mark saw us win a corner and, via a couple of clearances and a blocked shot from Emerton, the ball fell to Tugay about 35 yards out. He controlled the ball, moved forward a few yards, and hit a decent low shot towards goal. The ball headed straight towards Burnley's Micah Hyde on the edge of the box and, instead of standing tall and blocking it, he tried to shy away and the ball deflected off him into the corner of the net. Ewood rejoiced.

Unfortunately though, instead of kicking on and going for the kill, we appeared to sit back and looked like we were playing for half-time. Burnley seemed to sense this and had their best spell of the game. A period of pressure resulted in a throw in to Burnley near the corner flag, an exchange of passes while our defenders looked on seemingly uninterested, and a cracking turn and shot from the corner of the area by Micah Hyde. Boy did he make up for his softness earlier - it was a terrific goal.

Burnley went in at half-time bouncing, we looked deflated.

Flitcroft came on for Savage at half-time which I guess means that Savage's groin injury is worse than the club are letting on. I'd be surprised if he plays at Everton this weekend.

The second half was crap really. We had most of the possession but lacked the creativity or skill to do anything with it. Burnley worked their socks off, passed the ball around neatly in midfield when they did have it, but created absolutely nothing. Not a sausage.

Bothroyd came on for Gallagher after an hour, and then went off again fifteen minutes later presumably injured. He contributed nothing during that time. In the meantime we continued to squander possession and run into blind alleys whenever we reached the final third. Emerton in particular put in one of his frustrating performances.

Our only threats came from set pieces and Pedersen's delivery. Nelsen could, and perhaps should, have scopred twice from free headers. Sadly though he headed one straight at the keeper and headed the other into the ground and over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

Just when it seemed inevitable that extra time would be needed along came Pedersen. He'd switched wings with Emerton about ten minutes earlier and, when fed a ball down the right channel, he attempted a cross. The ball was blocked by Sinclair, Pedersen beat a tired-looking Burnley defender to the rebound, and then lashed a fantastic right-footed shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle. Their keeper got his hands to it but it was hit with such venom that it would be harsh to criticise him.

If Ewood rejoiced after Tugay's goal this time the fans had kittens. I particularly enjoyed MGP's celebration right in front of the Darwen End, and I'm sure the Burnley hoardes appreciated it as well!!

For the last five minutes we started to play like the Harlem Globetrotters, all neat passes and fancy flicks. Burnley looked, understandably, dead on their feet and Emerton should really have capitalised and got a third goal. Still, no matter, we won.

OK, here's the credit to Burnley paragraph. They worked their socks off and their system, five men in midfield and full-backs who rarely venture past the halfway line, means they are difficult to break down. For much of the game they contained us comfortably, looked as neat on the ball as we did, and defended what little we did create well. Thanks to their work-rate and tenacity they didn't really deserve to lose the game and it would have been fair if it had gone to extra time.

But that's what separates Premiership and Championship sides. Premiership teams have players like Pedersen who can produce that moment of class when it really matters to change a game.

Our defence was great throughout. Mokoena looked much more composed alongside a commanding centre-half like Nelsen, and Nelsen was just fantastic. What a player we may have. He won everything, was a threat at every set piece, and used the ball intelligently most of the time. He cost us nothing!

Tugay was closed down quickly and struggled to cope most of the time. Savage did ok without being his usual self - clearly the injury, and I suppose the early booking, hampered him. Flitcroft came on and was solid enough but gave the ball away as well. Emerton was back to his annoying best and MGP, while being our biggest threat (mainly at set-pieces), didn't impose himself enough for me. Cracking winner though and I wouldn't mind now if we named a stand after him!

Dickov was disappointing up front, his control let him down time and time again, and Gallagher just wasn't good enough - again. I guess Hughes has decided to give Gally a run of games but it's just not working. Stead and Jansen are far bigger threats and need to be brought back into the squad for the Everton game.

It was a cup-tie and the result is all that really matters. Burnley fans will go away saying they matched us on the pitch, outsung us in the stands, and will be playing us in the Premiership within a year or two. The truth is that, while Burnley did indeed match us for most of the time on the pitch, they only created one chance in 180 minutes of play - and that was a wonder strike. In terms of singing, we out-sung them for much of the first half until they scored, and they out-sung us for much of the second-half until we scored. The atmosphere at Ewood was far better than the Turf Moor atmosphere imo. And Burnley will not get promoted until they increase the depth of their squad and add more flair to their midfield.

The bottom line is that we're still the Pride of Lancashire and we're in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.


Rovers: Friedel, Neill, Mokoena, Nelsen, Johansson, Emerton, Savage (Flitcroft 45), Tugay, Pedersen, Dickov, Gallagher (Bothroyd 59), Bothroyd (Reid 79).

Subs Not Used: Enckelman, Short.

Booked: Savage.

Goals: Tugay 31, Pedersen 86.

Burnley: Jensen, Duff, Sinclair, Cahill, Camara, Grant (Branch 83), Oster, Hyde (Roche 90), Whittingham, Valois, Moore.

Subs Not Used: Coyne, Pilkington, Scott.

Booked: Cahill, Grant.

Goals: Hyde 42.

Att: 28,691.

Ref: H Webb

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I saw us lose at Turf Moor in 1987, but I suppose that doesn't count (Manx cup). Hurt at the time though. That was the one where Tony Finnigan scored from about 40 yards out and spent the rest of his career trying (and failing) to do it again.

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