Clarets Blog: Play-off hopes well on course

First published in Andrew Greaves Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

THE Clarets’ promotion wagon continued to rumble on after a well-deserved win against a poor Crystal Palace side.

After what seemed like an eternity on the road, it was great to get back to Turf Moor and be served up with some quality entertainment, espec-ially in the first half.

A super third minute strike from Jay Rodriguez was enough in the end to see off the Londoners and the only disappointment was that we did not win more convincingly.

Still, a win is a win and when it is matched with a decent performance, everyone goes home happy, even my hard-to-please mate Willie Irvine.

Talking of hard to please, Ross Wallace has really failed to impress me consistently since his arrival from Preston last summer but, on Saturday, he had an excellent game and under Eddie Howe we are finally seeing the best of players who perhaps have struggled to make an impression so far.

His wing play and link up with Tyrone Mears and the acrobatic effort he saw sail over and wide is evidence of the confidence he is now playing with.

Another player who has had something of a renaissance is Danny Fox who over the last six or seven games has looked fantastic.

I think having seen him play at the Turf for Coventry a couple of times – and his goal and assist debut performance – we all knew that he was a real top-end Championship player.

But he will probably be the first to admit that he struggled to settle and it must be tough when the crowd expect so much.

That said, he has knuckled down and since coming back into the side he has been one of our most consistent players.

Howe has brought about a real change in attitude and application and I have to say I was delighted to see us keep a clean sheet on Saturday.

I though Clarke Carlisle and Michael Duff were both really solid and Lee Grant looked more commanding then he has done.

I don’t think Palace really put us under too much pressure I have to say and I think the fact that they offered little could explain why we took our foot off the gas after half time.

The scoreline should have been a lot more convincing than it was and both goalscorer Jay Rodriguez and midfielder Jack Cork went close to putting the visitors out of sight in the opening 45 minutes.

Chris Iwelumo is struggling for form at the minute and I am sure Howe will have one eye on the loan market this week, especially with the news that Charlie Austin is going to be out until the summer.

The shoulder injury is desperately unlucky for the young lad because I am sure he would have relished going toe-to-toe with Palace on Saturday and it was probably the kind of game where he could get off the mark.

With Steve Thompson and Martin Paterson also ruled out for the season, Howe’s options up top are limited.

That game on Saturday started a run of four games in less than a fortnight and after a trip to Hull City tomorrow night, we have another two home games against sides which, in my view, are there for the taking.

Neither Millwall nor Coventry City are on the best of runs away from home and if we could just put in a performance like the first half against Palace for the full 90 minutes then I’m sure our great start under Howe will continue.

I’ll end with a bit of a shameless plug if I can.

The Clarets’ Trust is holding an evening with Clarets defender Clarke Carlisle on March 17 at the 1882 Lounge at Turf Moor.

I’ll be on hand to make sure things go accordingly and Clarke is going to be speaking about his career before taking questions from the audience.

Tickets are priced at £10 for non-Trust members and £8 for members and that includes a cracking pie and peas supper.

For more information log on to the Trusts’ website at www.claretstrust.com

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