The monkey's off the back - Burnley win at Charlton
Report of match Charlton Athletic 0 Burnley 1 played 2nd March 2013
Reporter Tony Scholes
I'm delighted today that, for the first time since mid-January, I'm able to report on a Burnley win after something special from Charlie Austin, coupled with a resolute display, gave us a 1-0 victory against Charlton at The Valley.
The only goal of the game came two minutes from the end of a first half dominated by the Clarets when the ball came off Charlie Austin's foot like a traction engine some thirty yards from goal and simply flew into the top right hand corner and, to make it even better, it was right in front of the Burnley supporters who counted over 900.
It was a memorable goal, one that Charlie himself has described as the best of his career, and when I got home and saw it on television it looked even better.
That goal was enough to win it after Charlton tested our defence to the limits in the last twenty minutes. It came through with flying colours and at the final whistle saw manager Sean Dyche marching onto the pitch, fist pumping and as animated as I've seen him.
|Charlie Austin's brilliant goal won the points|
For the second Saturday in succession it was an early start and this time after my attempts at getting a night's sleep were destroyed by someone's alarm. It's one thing it wakens you once during the night but this damn thing must have reduced the entire neighbourhood's hours of sleep to an absolute minimum.
But I was awake, just, and ready, definitely, for the journey which got underway at around 7:40 a.m. and saw us parked up close to the ground around 12:30 p.m. before a short train journey to the Hare & Billet in Blackheath for a drink and lunch with some fellow Clarets.
We were back at Charlton in good time to firstly see the horrendous state of the pitch and then hear the team news and there were more changes than I'd expected. Both Dean Marney and Chris McCann, out with injuries, had to be replaced but Dyche also opted to return all of Brian Stock, Danny Ings and Keith Treacy to the bench as half the outfield was changed from the team that started the midweek defeat against Huddersfield.
There was a switch in formation. At the Clarets Mad 'Dyche Night' on Thursday we were told by the manager that he favours a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation and that's how we lined up here.
David Edgar and Marvin Bartley, recalled to replace the two injured midfielders, were our central two. Either side of them were the recalled Junior Stanislas and new signing Alexander Kačaniklić and Martin Paterson was the preferred choice up front alongside Charlie Austin.
I'd expected some motoring on the two benches yesterday with Jensen & Button expected to be down there but Chris Powell made a late change and played their Button in goal at the expense of regular first choice goalkeeper Ben Hamer.
Also in the home side was former Claret Leon Cort who, shall we say, didn't get the sort of reception we reserve for our heroes, the likes of which we saw recently when Wade Elliott and Steven Caldwell returned to Turf Moor.
The last time we won at Charlton we played towards the Jimmy Seed Stand, which houses the visiting fans, in the first half and that's exactly what we did this time.
There was no doubt at all that, if we were to get anything from this game, we would have to show much more than we'd done in the Huddersfield defeat, and right from the off there was a much better feel to this Burnley team. There was a much better tempo to it; we got the ball moving a lot quicker and with the two wide men we were often able to stretch Charlton.
Kačaniklić showed some really good touches and on the other side Stanislas looked a totally different proposition to the player who had disappointed so much at Brighton a week earlier.
As for Paterson, he looked an entirely different player to what we've seen recently. This, I'd say, was his best performance since the opening day win against Judas and the Horwich Boys back in August. He was full of energy, full of desire and, in particular, Michael Morrison was at a complete loss as to how to deal with him.
There wasn't too long gone when we got the ball in the net. Stanislas won the ball and played a delightful through ball for Pato. It was right in his stride and he made no mistake having got in front of Cort. Unfortunately the flag was up for offside although, and it was difficult to see from behind the goal, he wasn't offside and the goal should have stood.
It would have been the perfect start, particularly as news was soon filtering through of two Dwight Gayle goals back in East Lancashire.
Things were looking good; it just needed a goal, but then, as you would expect, Charlton had a spell of around ten minutes in the middle of the half. It all came via set pieces and there was a real worry that they were being awarded free kicks far too easily by Simon Hooper, who had to be one of the most rotund referees I've ever seen.
That seemed to be Charlton's tactic; win a lot of soft free kicks and the bang the ball into the box, get away with as much pushing and shoving as possible, and try to bully us into submission. Lee Grant had to punch one ball away, but he and his defenders dealt well with the rest and it was very soon Burnley back in the ascendancy.
Kačaniklić and Austin might have done better with opportunities but we were asking a lot of questions of the home defence and there was some real quality in some of the delivery into the box.
One ball in from the right was heading for Paterson at the far post when a desperate touch from a defender just about got it out for a corner and as half time approached the only real concern was that we hadn't got a goal.
Then it came, a goal that I can promise you will be a very strong goal of the season contender. Danny Lafferty had possession on the left touchline. He played the ball inside, through the section with more sand than Southport beach, to find Austin.
The striker moved inside a few yards before unleashing his shot from around 30 yards out. It went like a rocket, bending slightly and simply hammered into the top corner. The Charlton Button was well and truly unfastened, in fact they could have had a full set of Buttons and it would have made no difference.
Our view of it was brilliant. It couldn't have been better. With our group all sat on second half minutes in the First Goal Sweep draw it meant no chance of the £120 prize, but who cared, this was an absolute stunner and had given us the lead we had so richly deserved.
It was our first goal since Edgar's at Bolton and saw us in front yet again away from home with the hope this time that we'd keep the lead and go on and win the game.
Nothing other than a win looked on the cards at half time but the second half, eventually, was a different story.
Charlton should probably have equalised in the very first minute of the second half but nothing too much changed in the early part of the half. Austin was close to a second when Button failed to hold a shot from Kieran Trippier and then the home side were fortunate after a superb run from Kačaniklić.
|Best performance since August for Martin Paterson|
There had to be some sort of response from Charlton and they finally wakened up. Grant saved brilliantly to deny Danny Haynes, the Turf Moor scorer, whose header looked to be going into the bottom corner to Grant's left.
He'd got ahead of Kevin Long to get the header in, but if this was a mistake from Long I'd suggest it was his only one in a performance that, by the final whistle, was simply outstanding. A corner went right across our goal with Morrison unable to convert it.
It was the first sign of any problems but the last twenty minutes were to be a real battle as ball after ball after ball came into our box.
That's all they did; they hammered big balls into our box and tried, by foul and fair means, to bully our defenders. Cort spent much of the time in our box and they were given too many chances to get those balls in.
We had dropped too deal but referee Hooper needs to take a long, hard look at himself for the way he fell for their tricks time and time again. He suddenly started waving yellow cards our way, although not all of them were unjust, and some of the free kicks he was giving them were just a joke.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Fuller was up to all his old tricks and getting away with each and every one of them.
There were times when I was sure a goal would come; that all our good work would be undone, but we battled, we didn't give them an inch. We won ball after ball in our box. There were some scrambles, but we reduced the amount of work Grant needed to do to an absolute minimum.
Yes, as I've reported, Long was outstanding, but so were all his fellow defenders. Sam Vokes came on and won two vital headers. The midfield got back and won balls as they supported the back four.
At times it looked desperate but so well did we defend that the opportunities Charlton had were negligible. Five minutes of added time were allocated but finally we got through that and that final whistle was blown.
The Burnley fans celebrated; the players celebrated and Dyche marched onto the pitch. He went to each and every player to shake their hands, then shook hands with the officials before making his way to the edge of the penalty box to salute the fans.
He was so pumped up I wouldn't have wanted to challenge him at that point. It meant so much to him, and he said as much after the game and the Burnley fans could finally celebrate a win which came just those four to five miles away from the scene of our last victory.
It's not taken us anywhere near the top six and was never likely to, but the points will have quietened the doom mongers who had suddenly decided we were in a relegation fight.
The simple truth is we're only three points from the magical fifty points after which, as Stan always used to tell us, we can crack on and see where it takes us.
A good day all round and, just to top it off, Dwight Gayle completed his hat trick.
The teams were;
Charlton: David Button, Lawrie Wilson, Leon Cort, Michael Morrison, Rhoys Wiggins, Bradley Pritchard, Dorian Dervite (Callum Harriott 63), Johnnie Jackson, Danny Haynes, Ricardo Fuller, Jon Obikia (Danny Green 63). Subs not used: Ben Hamer, Matthew Taylor, Cedric Evina, Andy Hughes, Scott Wagstaff.
Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Kevin Long, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Junior Stanislas (Danny Ings 73), David Edgar, Marvin Bartley, Alex Kačaniklić (Brian Stock 88), Martin Paterson, Charlie Austin (Sam Vokes 84). Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Luke O'Neill, Joseph Mills, Keith Treacy.
Yellow Cards: Charlie Austin, Danny Lafferty, Sam Vokes, Martin Paterson.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 20,065 (including 921 Clarets).