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Andrew Greaves: Gallant defeat shows Clarets can mix it with the best
WELL we’re out of the FA Cup but if we’re all honest, it is probably a bit of a relief with the squad we have.
I’m not saying for one minute that I agree with Paul Lambert’s view that his side – and many others – can do without the distraction of the FA Cup.
And I’d have been delighted had we managed to topple Southampton in their own back yard.
But our main priority has to be the league and I am not sure we could afford to juggle a campaign on two fronts.
That said, the defeat at St Mary’s, in which former Claret Jay Rodriguez’s strike helped the home side to a 4-3 win, will have given our confidence a real boost.
At 2-0 down within half and hour to superb strikes from Nathanial Clyne and Rickie Lambert, it looked like we could be on the end of a battering come the full time whistle.
But, as he has done many times since arriving at Turf Moor, boss Sean Dyche inspired the Clarets at half time and within 12 minutes of the restart we were level.
Sam Vokes got the first with an excellent header before Danny Ings got his customary goal.
The goal from Jay, who stepped off the bench to put his side back in front, was disappointing because our back four seemed to stand still after a challenge on Tom Heaton, perhaps thinking the ref would blow for a foul.
He didn’t and Jay had the simplest of tasks to fire into an empty net.
Ings hit the post at 3-2 but it was Adam Lallana's low drive which proved the difference 17 minutes from time.
At 4-2 down we looked dead and buried but Kevin Long set up a frantic last couple of minutes by turning home from close range.
It was a gallant attempt but we couldn’t force the equaliser, despite an excellent second half performance.
If ever there was a good way to go out of the cup, it was this way and now the focus can shift back to the league.
We’ve got another long trip to Yeovil on Saturday and a home game against struggling Sheffield Wednesday before an enforced break due to Bolton progressing in the FA Cup.
That break will hopefully give the squad a chance to recover from a busy festive period – and Sean Dyche the chance to bring in some fresh faces.
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