August 3 2008
Burnley today ended pre-season preparations with a 2-1 victory over Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The Match also gave the Burnley faithful their first glimpse of Chris Eagles in a Claret shirt and it's fair to say they weren't disappointed
Owen Coyle started the match with what is widely regarded will be the starting line up against Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday. Judging by the performance of this starting XI it should be some game.
The first half of the match against Caley provided some of the best free flowing attacking football that I have seen from any team on the Turf for a very long time. It was like watching a Dutch masterclass from the 70's and 80's.
The formation for the day was set as 4-2-3-1 and it worked. The back four stayed solid and apart from a few errors from Caldwell looked untroubled, gone are the days of the fullbacks bombing forward but they weren't missed, that wasn't their job. Sat in front of them were Remco Van Der Schaff and Chris McCann, their remit for the day seemed to be one of win the ball, play it easy, protect the back four, do nothing spectacular but play your part. They both did this to perfection.
The performance of the back 6 (7 including the unflappable Penney) provided the foundation for the fireworks of our new attacking guile. Wade Elliott, Chris Eagles and Robbie Blake were quite simply awesome in tandem. They popped up everywhere all three looked to have been given something of a free role in so much as if we are attacking, attack from anywhere. All three popped up on the left, all three popped up on the right and all three played central. Caley didn't know what to do or who to mark. On this performance neither will most sides. This was perfectly complemented by the nippy Paterson who never stopped running, he pulled the central two of Caley all over the pitch and helped provide space for Eagles, Blake and Elliott to work their magic.
Both of Burnley's goals came during the first half. First was another goal of this pre-season for Wade Elliott. Mr angry looks like his orders have been set as get stuck in more and have a shot. With the talent he has he should provide more goals and it seems he is determined to. The move for the goal itself was typical of the half, starting at the back with Graham Alexander we swept forward with crisp passing involving McCann, Van Der Schaff and Blake the ball finally finding Elliott. He took on his man, danced inside and rifled an unstoppable shot past the Caley keeper.
Number two came just minutes later just before half time. Penney gathered the ball following a rare Thistle attack and threw the ball out for the attack to begin. Again crisp free flowing football ended with Blake unselfishly setting up debutant Eagles for the goal his play had deserved.
Caley were relieved when just seconds later the half time whistle came. The only change which came during half time was Gudjonsson replacing the impressive McCann. Burnley however would go on to make another eight changes during the half and this led to a more bitty second half as the fluency deserted them. We did have chances, Elliott, Blake and Eagles again combining and causing a menace at every opportunity.
With the changes coming thick and fast Caley found a way back into the game. 63 minutes were on the clock when Caldwell was out muscled all to easily by Andrew Barrowman, the former Birmingham man firing past the helpless Diego Penney. Eagles finally departed after 79 minutes to a standing ovation from the clarets faithful.
This was just a friendly, the real football is just a week away but had Sheffield Wednesday sent a spy then Brian Laws will be having nightmares this week. Nightmares in the shape of Elliott, Blake Eagles and Paterson.