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Match report: Late equaliser seemed inevitable

Burnley 1-1 Nottingham Forest: Referee Nigel Miller will get the blame but Burnley must look in house, writes Jamie Smith.

Burnley didn’t win. The fans and Sean Dyche blamed the referee. It’s become a familiar story in recent weeks and people are starting to tire of the excuses that are made time and time again for poor performance after poor performance.

It’s now just one win in 12 and we haven’t picked up three points at home since January 12th. Junior Stanislas was the matchwinner that day at home to Crystal Palace and he almost was again but for a Forest penalty in the last minute of injury time.

Lewis McGugan sent Lee Grant the wrong way from the spot to leave Clarets fans anxiously poring over the bottom half of the Championship table. Even with 51 points on the board in 13th spot with a handful of games left, we are far from safe and our form is currently as bad as anyone’s in the division. Rock bottom Bristol City at home on Saturday now looks massive – a win and we’re safe, a defeat and we’re in trouble.

The Clarets didn’t do enough to win the game and 1-1 was a fair result overall. Kevin Long tripping Henri Lansbury in the box was the end product of 25 minutes of increasing pressure after Burnley had taken the lead.

We’ve seen it time and time again – Burnley go in front and make no effort to extend the lead to make the game safe – and it costs us. Lansbury’s converted penalty was the last kick of the game and kept Forest’s promotion hopes alive. We’ve thrown away a remarkable 28 points from leading positions this season. We are 27 points behind league leaders Cardiff City.

After a tortuous first 15 minutes Forest started to dominate the match. McGugan and Andy Reid are two of the best ball players in the division and with Dyche selecting Sam Vokes and Charlie Austin in a 4-4-2 the Clarets were frequently overrun in midfield. Marvin Bartley, deputising for the injured Dean Marney, looked off the pace.

The Clarets could have had a penalty when Austin was pushed in the box by Gonzalo Jara as he chested the ball down but Miller wasn’t interested and that set off a period where every decision went against Burnley. Ross Wallace was booked for a fair challenge and it appeared to be one of those days.

Stanislas could have given the Clarets an undeserved lead after he scampered down the left channel, but his firm strike was turned away by Karl Darlow for a corner. Austin had Burnley’s only other serious effort of the first half and he blazed over from the corner of the box with Vokes screaming for a cross. It was to be Austin’s only sight of goal other than another speculative shot from 25 yards that didn’t test the goalkeeper as the 28-goal hitman foraged for scraps.

At the other end, Lee Grant was in top form to keep the Clarets on level terms. He tipped over Billy Sharp’s header and made two or three other good saves. Burnley must tie him down to a new contract as soon as possible.

The goal came with 68 minutes on the clock. Stanislas led a break down the middle of the pitch and played in Joseph Mills – on for the injured Ben Mee – on the overlap. The on loan full-back’s cross was half cleared but Stanislas had continued his run into the box and his shot beat Darlow via a deflection.

Burnley didn’t deserve the lead and did nothing to justify what would have been a first win in a month. Billy Davies replaced his strikers and threw on Radoslaw Majewski but with skipper Jason Shackell in excellent form, the Clarets repelled everything Forest threw at them. This was despite some hairy moments, including a superb goal-saving tackle at the back post from Mills, who also had a stunning effort from outside the box fly just over the bar in his impressive half-hour cameo.

But the equaliser still seemed inevitable. Miller was quick to point to the spot after Lansbury’s tumble and McGugan’s penalty – his seventh goal of the season – was well hit into the bottom corner. There wasn’t even time for the restart.

Dyche blamed the referee and stated he felt sorry for the fans, but his excuses are starting to grate. 4-4-2 with two wingers looks attacking on paper but there was effectively no supply to Vokes and Austin. Neither striker had a good chance all game and Stanislas – a player Dyche has bafflingly appeared unwilling to play – had our only two proper shots on target.

McCann and Bartley are willing runners but there’s a lack of quality on the ball in that pairing and Stanislas and Ross Wallace had to regularly come inside to hunt for possession. Austin’s link-up play was terrible all game – he barely completed a pass – and the striker has to take some of the blame for the penalty as he gave the ball away cheaply with men in support with seconds left to play.

Dyche didn’t use his final substitute ’til midway through injury time, throwing on David Edgar for Stanislas. It is strange he leaves Brian Stock – a player who seems tailor-made to bring on to help us see wins out – on the bench. It’s also worth pointing out we were still playing the minimum five added minutes when Forest scored due to the pointless Edgar switch adding on more time.

The tactics are virtually non-existent. Even attacking throw ins are worked back to the centre-backs and sometimes the goalkeeper to launch the ball down the field. With the way Dyche is setting up his side it’s little wonder we don’t look like winning games. We don’t play to our strengths. The ball goes long and aimless too early, even though Vokes and Austin clearly thrive on quality delivery into the box.

Dyche will get time to turn things around – and he should. But fans will want to see some improvement by the end of the season as this was a sixth home game in a row that wasn’t close to being good enough, though we almost scraped a win in what was a scrappy match.

What did you make of the game? Comment below.

  1. Normally I’d be happy to be leading a high-flying side until deep into injury time. But this doesn’t make easy reading at all. It’s all quite depressing and deeply worrying.

    Posted 1 year ago by Kevin Robinson
    • Even at 1-0 the crowd was flat. There’s no belief.

      Posted 1 year ago by Jamie Smith
  2. Jamie, we have also lost 23 pts due to Micky Mouse refereeing if we had those pts we be 2nd now and staring the Premier League in the face. Im sorry as much you can blame the manager and the players, The referee yesterday was poor let Forest get away with blatent elbows on Burnley players The Forest players behavier was dreadful and their over the top antics towards Referee Miller, prompted him to Wrongly book Wallace then to play 2 mins over 5 mins of injury time is scandlous enough, and then give a dubious spot-kick just added total insult Jamie. I respect your views. But i felt Referee Miller was to Blame in my opinion!

    Posted 1 year ago by John
    • You simply can’t keep blaming the referee, unless you truly believe they have some special treatment for us! That’s called paranoia. Otherwise, it balances out over a season. If it IS that they have a special treatment for us, then perhaps we should start considering why and what different attitudes the players and Dyche can try out to resolve that!

      Posted 1 year ago by Mike Mada
      • Mike, its not paranoia its fact mate, i respect what your saying but 23 pts lost on bad Refereeing leaves a bad taste in the mouth, Any Tom, Dick or Harry could see that Nigel Miller had a poor game yesterday.

        Posted 1 year ago by John
        • How many other teams could say the same? I reckon that every team could say it.

          Posted 1 year ago by Mike Mada
    • How many other teams could say the same? I reckon that every team could say it.

      Posted 1 year ago by Mike Mada
    • John – unfortunately there isn’t an IF column in the league table. I’m bored of hearing about referees – it’s an excuse to cover up the fact we haven’t been good enough.

      Posted 1 year ago by Jamie Smith
      • Spot on Jamie… actually thought that Dyche was above this, but he’s ended up a whinging manager.

        If we’d been smarter when we’d been ahead, we’d not have had this problem and if it’s a lesson learned, all well and good (assuming we can get through this season without a disaster) and next season we’ll be all the better. If there’s no solution to this, then Dyche might not be the man for us eventually….

        Posted 1 year ago by Mike Mada
        • He claimed to be above it and has shown himself not to be. Complaining shows weakness and fans won’t tolerate it. Cotterill whinged constantly about referees to deflect away from his failings and the similarities between the two are getting more noticeable.

          Posted 1 year ago by Jamie Smith
  3. ‘It is strange he leaves Brian Stock – a player who seems tailor-made to bring on to help us see wins out – on the bench’ – you’re right, this is crazy.

    Why don’t we have a better understanding that holding the ball, playing it to feet and frustrating the opposition is the BEST way to see games out.

    Hoofball defence is never going to protect a lead as it gives possession away. This is defending a lead 101, so who to blame. It can ONLY be Dyche for not having drilled this into the players and if they don’t perform as such in these situations, they don’t play!

    You simply cannot keep blaming the referee for inadequate performances (crap, arrogant and just downright poor many of them are, they are right outside his circle of influence – it’s pointless squeaking that out every week). Dyche needs to man up a bit, take the criticism and learn from it. He is not the finished article – he might become it, but he has some way to go as yet.

    Oh, and just to keep momentum, I wouldn’t want to depend on Grant to ever save a penalty.

    Posted 1 year ago by Mike Mada
    • Thought Grant had a good game to be honest made some fine saves and could do nothing about their spot – kick which in my opinion should NEVER have been given i felt Lansbury was looking for it and Referee Miller wrongly bought it!

      Posted 1 year ago by John
      • It looks softish, but the ball should have been held up way away from our penalty area. Long was naive and indeed, if he’d not got in the way, Lansbury was going nowhere.

        Posted 1 year ago by Mike Mada
  4. 10 weeks without a home game on a saturday has ruined our season!!

    Posted 1 year ago by scott
    • What? Why? How?

      Posted 1 year ago by Kevin Robinson
    • Our record in midweek games at Turf Moor was excellent until the second half of this season.

      Posted 1 year ago by Jamie Smith
  5. I’d like to see a breakdown of this 23 points we’ve had snatched away from us by officials.

    Posted 1 year ago by Neil
    • Write to Dyche. I’m sure he’ll be too happy to have someone to complain about referees to.

      Posted 1 year ago by Jamie Smith
      • I’ll pass on that one thanks. No doubt anything he has to say in future about officials will be all over the media anyway, whether we want to hear it or not.

        Posted 1 year ago by Neil
  6. I’m not sure about 23 points, I think that is being a bit silly. I wouldn’t agree with the ‘these things even themselves out’ argument either though because they don’t. Charlton, Birmingham, Blackburn, key decisions from poor referees have let us down and we may be 8th or 9th with those points. There have been others, but the players have to carry on. Dyche has blamed the referee, sometimes justifiably, but he’s done it too much.

    More of a concern is our inability to keep any sort of possession in the last 20 minutes when 1-0 up on a number of occasions. A bit of composure yesterday and we still win 1-0 in 97 minutes.

    Posted 1 year ago by Chris Stanworth
    • All this referee blame game business is to try and keep the fans off his and the players backs after poor home performances. I did not hesitate in renewing my season ticket last year but my £900 is staying in my pocket to see if things change in the way we approach games at home. We are far from safe if we lose on Saturday and teams below us keep picking up points.

      Posted 1 year ago by Colin
  7. Trying to find out why Brian Stock is seeing so little game time. Talented player, possibly with a range of passing that would help us with ball retention in the middle of the park?

    McCann is frustrating or frustrated (not sure which)

    Marney is an enigma (amazing at Hull away but too often missing from the crucial part of the pitch)

    Bartley is a bruiser with honesty but little to suggest he’s not struggling with aspects of this level)

    Edgar is not blessed with quick thought (in that part of the field)

    I haven’t seen Richards play but presume he isn’t good enough at this level?

    I think this area of the field is where so many teams are even in the Championship. Decent players are ten a penny and the best combinations in the middle tend to be part of a successful team.

    Posted 1 year ago by LJB
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