Clarets Blog: Shopping trip may have been a better bet

First published in Stephen Cummings Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Burnley FC fan columnist

Those whose better halves dragged them Christmas shopping on Saturday afternoon should consider themselves the fortunate ones.

Putting up a tree, getting the turkey in or buying Auntie Flossie some bath salts would have been a much more fulfilling and constructive way to pass a couple of hours, instead of sitting in plummeting temperatures at Turf Moor and enduring 90 minutes of the most torpid, lugubrious and soul-deadening football you are likely to encounter this or any other season.

Michael Appleton had clearly done his homework.

His Portsmouth side came to frustrate, scrap and spoil. And it worked. When out of possession, Pompey pressed Burnley high up the pitch, denying them time and space.

The Clarets had no answer. Consequently, the game was mostly ground out in a 20-yard zone either side of halfway.

Wit, guile and craft were required to unpick a well-organised set of opponents. Oh for a bit of trickery from a Glen Little, an inspirational flash of ingenuity from a Robbie Blake… Instead we had Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas. The latter has shown, albeit infrequently, that he can deliver a decent ball. But far too often he fails to make an impression on games.

And this Burnley side is not so great that it can afford passengers. Wallace produces more regularly, but on Saturday his passing was woeful and his shooting not even that.

And why was Keith Treacy omitted from the 16? The Irishman himself is no model of consistency, yet might have had a trick up his sleeve.

With our wide play nullified, the other option was to attack centrally. Again, the Clarets fell short.

Other than his and Burnley’s sole shot on target, Chris McCann turned in what is, worryingly, becoming his trademark anony-mous performance.

Any tempo Burnley had was provided by their best performer, Marvin Bartley.

The winner, when it came, was depressingly typical of how the Clarets have conceded this season; horribly ragged, frighteningly switched off and heart-breakingly late.

Quite how Steven Norris was allowed to get his 91st minute shot away with Messrs Duff, Bartley and Edgar all within touching distance is a mystery beyond the unders-tanding of your humble columnist.

Keeper Grant was justifiably furious, yet repeated viewings of the goal suggest he may have got down to the ball more quickly.

The confidence built up by three successive wins must not be allowed to dissipate. Here’s hoping Burnley emerge with more credit from the Amex on Saturday.


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