This was a difficult result to stomach, writes David Whitney.
All the talk in the ground before kick off and in the press in the days leading up to the game was about this being Burnley’s best chance to beat Rovers for a many a decade. From a quick glance of the teamsheet, it was easy to see why. While the Burnley team might not be brimming with quality at the minute, the team Rovers fielded must be the weakest seen in a derby game for 30 years or more.
After a quick change of ends, the game kicked off with the Clarets playing towards the packed away end. The early signs were promising with both sides showing plenty of attacking intent, even if genuine quality was for the most part missing.
Both Austin and Shackell has early half chances – Austin with an acrobatic volleyed effort.
The tense atmosphere was briefly punctured by the inevitable chicken on the pitch, with a steward comically trying to catch hold of it.
A good save from by Jake Kean led to one of Burnleys well established corner routines and it should have produced the games first goal, but of all people Austin lacked a bit of composure and fired well over when under little pressure.
Then, just when it seemed like yet another game where our dominance failed to realise a goal, Shackell put us ahead, bundling home the rebound after his initial header had hit the post.
By this point Rovers were firmly on the back foot and in truth we should have put the game to bed. A Ross Wallace free kick shaved the post and could have produced that second goal. As it was, the rest of the half played out with little significant drama and the half ended with the Clarets a goal to the good.
Rovers inevitably upped their game in the second half and Rhodes made his first significant contribution when he turned Shackell and he was allowed to get a shot away. Fortunately it sailed over the bar but by this point Rovers were starting to increase the pressure.
This pressure led to Ben Mee picking up his first yellow card for what seemed an innocuous enough incident. Sadly that wasn’t to be his last card of the afternoon and he received a second yellow only minutes later for a late challenge.
All the while, Grant Hanley went about his nasty business almost with impunity. First a foul and subsequent attempt to throttle Martin Paterson was punished with only a yellow, then an arm to Kieron Trippier’s face was entirely unpunished.
The writing seemed on the wall and a playing half an hour with ten men was a daunting prospect. Wallace was immediately sacrificed for Lafferty and we inevitably battened down the hatches.
As is so often the case when defending with ten men, our defending got deeper and deeper and we seemed to almost invite pressure. However, the defence remained disciplined and although Rovers were camped in our third of the pitch, Grant wasn’t worked too hard.
As full time approached we managed to escape our penalty area with a little more regularity and survival seemed more possible.
Then as the clock ticked over to start the six minutes of injury time, our old foe David Dunn was named man of the match. He’d probably been the best of a poor looking Rovers team but there were inevitable groans from the away end. It was then perhaps inevitable that he was to apply one last heartbreaking role in the game, as if to justify the sponsor’s decision.
As the clock ticked into the fifth minute of injury time and in what seemed like slow motion, the ball found its way across the box to Dunn who was lurking unmarked in a position that turned out to be two yards offside. He had the simple task of lashing the ball past a helpless Lee Grant. The home crowd celebrated as thought they’d won the Champions League and the away following were stunned into a numb silence.
This was as tough a result to stomach as I can ever remember. I’ve known 3-0 or 4-0 hammerings that I’ve handled better. There seemed to be a numb silence for several minutes that was only punctuated by the sound of plastic seats being ripped from the stand.
The wait goes on.
How did you handle that late blow? Will we ever beat them? Comment below.