IBO Reporter : Spot51
|Saints were in yellow and kicked off, Sky's commentators were Daniel Mann and Don Goodman.
The opening minutes were frantic, end to end, but Saints seemed better at getting shots away. Not that they troubled Nick Pope, but he was busier than Fraser. Romeu won a couple of early challenges, giving us the ball and Burnley looked nervous. When Cornet fouled KWP it allowed our captain to put in a cross. Burnley dealt with that but the next attack saw KWP earn a corner.
JWP's cross was right on the money, found the head of Romeu and flashed wide of the post. How are we not 1-0?
Then Broja won the ball and Moi shot wide. Sky showed a stat on 8 minutes - Saints 5 shots to Burnley's 0 but we'd not yet hit the target. Gradually Burnley began to see more of the ball and Cornet on the left and McNeil on the right were getting involved. Their first shot came from McNeil cutting in from his wing but Lyanco got in the way. Burnley recovered the ball and fed it to Roberts. The right back showed McNeil how to do it, curling a left foot shot round Fraser's dive and in at the far post. 12 minutes gone - Burnley 1-0 up.
That was that as a contest. Burnley were suddenly quicker and stronger and Saints early confidence evaporated. The claret tide washed forward again, McNeil found Weghorst, Fraser held on at the 2nd attempt. On a brief venture upfield, Stu sent over a cross which Tarka headed away. Saints then tried to find KWP but he had strayed offside.
Burnley looked much more dangerous now, moving the ball better and winning their individual contests. J Rod forced another save from Fraser before Saints got forward again. JWP sent over a cross which Pope grabbed above all-comers. McNeil fancied himself to skin Perraud but the Frenchman took the ball and cleared. Fraser came to gather a Cornet cross and then gathered it as Weghorst tried to chase it into our box.
Burnley were well on top now. JWP was forced to concede a corner which Brownhill took. Fraser saved J Rod's initial header but Collins headed the loose ball against our post before we scrambled it away. A J Rod foul on KWP released the pressure for a moment.
Saints then had a rare attack but, when it broke down, the ball was hoofed upfield with Cornet in hot pursuit. Thankfully Fraser was in sweeper-keeper mode and hacked itb the other way. Sky then put up another caption, Burnley 7 shots, 4 on target!
Saints then won 2 successive corners. Broja won the first which Pope punched out for the next. JWP again picked out the head of Romeu but this time the Spaniard stuck it wide of the back post. He could easily have scored twice causing Burnley to collapse. They were showing no signs of doing so and on 36 minutes McNeil forced the best save yet from Forster, turning the ball round his post.
Cork was carded for a foul on Stu, but JWP's free kick went over Broja's head. There was then a planned "Ramadan" break so the Muslim players could take on sustenance. Burnley then repelled Saints next attack and Cornet got down their left to win another corner. Brownhill swung it over and Collins met it, heading it in.
There was then a long VAR break with match officials considering:
had Collins climbed all over JWP to reach the ball? Y
had Collins handled the ball? Y
was Cork miles offside and interfering with play? Y
The conclusion was none of the above - 2-0 to the Clarets. Stuart Attwell was added to Spot's List of Shithouse Refs. Half time arrived. Blessed relief…
I was staggered when Broja came back out after the break. We'd been generally rubbish, but he had been especially dreadful. Get Che on FFS! Right away Brownhill was taking another corner, met by another free header but this one, thankfully, flew wide.
On 52 minutes, Mann reminded us that Pope had yet to make a save. Lyanco conceded another corner which we got away and my notes next say "we look so shit!" KWP won another corner, JWP duly sent it into Pope's gloves. Indeed, we were now keeping the ball better, without actually doing anything constructive. Then, out of the blue, Stu hit a cross which deflected off a defender which Pope was required to tip over. Does that count as a shot on target?
Burnley then deployed a new tactic to counter JWP's corners. As the ball came in, a Burnley defender hurled himself to the ground, clutching his face. The Ref immediately halted play. After the medics left the field, play restarted by handing the ball to Nick Pope. What??
Burnley won a series of corners, Valery heading the first behind. From the right, McNeil worked a short corner then crossed for J Rod to score. Cork was miles offside (again) and this time the flag went up.
On 65 mins, the first 3 substitues arrived: Lennon for Cornet and Redmond and Adams for Stu and Moi. Within no time, Redders cross from the left picked out Che whose volley brought a great save from Pope. At last! Don Goodman suggested he'd been better heading it and was probably right.
We briefly looked like we were intetrested winning consecutive corners. With Stu off, JWP was taking them from both flanks but defenders reached both first. Then Lennon won another corner for them. This one Brownhill floated long and it went beyond everyone and off for a goal kick.
Our next attack saw the Ref give us a free kick just right of centre. We all knew what would follow: especially Pope who has probably worked with JWP at England camps. He lined up his wall and, as the ball came by it, moved a bit to his left and tipped it over.
Burnley cleared the next corner but we came again, finding Adams right between the posts. Unable to get a quick shot away hdev wasv quickly closed down by Taylor and the chance was gone. From the next corner Burnley again deployed the "injured player routine". It worked just as well the second time, but Bednarek lost his rag with the Ref's cheating and got himself booked.
A mixture of fortune and brave defending was seeing Burnley home. KWP had an effort blocked before Weghorst was hooked, Vydra being his replacement. Perraud was getting cross too and was also booked for bringing down Lennon.
Broja made a late run and cross but only Pope got to it in their box. Ralph then hooked KWP (hopefully keeping him for the Amex) and sent on Tino. Saints then had to defend another corner. McNeil picked out Tarka but a Saints' body blocked his effort. The home players all claimed "penalty" but it wasn't.
On 87 minutes Burnley replaced the dangerous McNeil with another right back so they were keeping what they'd got. We saw more of the ball and in the final minute Valery careered up the park to win a corner. JWP knew that if he put in a trademark "dangerous" cross, Burnley would feign injury again and Bednarek would get himself sent off. To keep his mate on the park he delivered it directly to Pope.
During the 5 added minutes we kept the ball but did nothing with it. Meanwhile Don Goodman was expressing his sympathy for the travelling Saints fans. TBF it was shit watching on telly too! He could have chosen any of the Clarets for MotM but opted for Connor Roberts who'd defended well and scored their first. The best bit was the final whistle!
Man of the Match
On Thursday I was determined to withhold the award or nominate an unused substitute. On reflection, none of our defenders was particularly bad and Fraser put in another decent shift. Both Burnley goals were not their fault, it was the midfield that under-performed. No one got near Roberts for their first and once he'd struck the ball there was no stopping it. Their second was from a corner where Collins climbed over JWP to score. If he was unable to stop him, our skipper should have made damn sure the Ref knew he'd been fouled. Just roll about, holding your head and the Ref stops the game and gives the ball to your keeper!
With hindsight the player I was least upset with was Perraud and anyone who clatters Lennon goes up in my estimation. Congratulations, Monsieur!