Sunday, 4 October 2009

Burnley 2-1 Birmingham

Burnley swept aside a poor Birmingham team to extend their winning streak at Turf Moor to ten matches, after a one-sided match that the Clarets should have won by more than the final score of 2-1.

Two early goals in the second half were enough to seal the points, with Birmingham's reply coming from virtually the last kick of the match.

Fletcher gave Burnley the lead after an incisive counter attack, and minutes later Andre Bikey added a second with a fine goal.

Owen Coyle had his old mentor Alex McLeish alongside him on the touchline, but he outclassed his old master tactically.

Burnley moved Bikey into midfield to allow a return for club captain Steven Caldwell, and Bikey's physicality negated any threat from midfield from Birmingham, who mustered very little in the way of attacking threat all game.

A gusty wind made conditions difficult and both sides found it hard going for the first half, David Nugent with Burnley's best chance, shooting straight at Joe Hart from twenty yards, and Lee Bowyer diverting a cross away from rather than towards the Burnley goal, from a rare Birmingham foray forward.

But Burnley started the second half brightly and quickly sealed the points. James McFadden wasted a free-kick for Birmingham in a great position, and Burnley broke at breakneck speed.

Tyrone Mears carried the ball for forty yards through the centre of the park before slipping in Steven Fletcher down the inside left channel. Nugent was screaming for the ball across the penalty area but Fletcher took it alone, and although his shot was straight at Hart, it somehow cannoned off the goalkeeper's legs and into the roof of the net. It was an untidy end to a fabulous break, but once the Clarets got their noses in front they didn't look back.

The second goal came quickly. Bikey won the ball in his new midfield role and rode a couple of untidy Birmingham challenges before advancing on goal. The Cameroonian then played a glorious one-two with Nugent on the edge of the area, and Bikey advanced on goal to finish calmly into the far corner, across Hart, before celebrating acrobatically.

Mears had a free-kick tipped over by Hart and Bikey should have done better with a free header from the resulting corner as Burnley briefly smelled blood and a rout, but they sat back and closed out the match instead.

Birmingham got an unlikely consolation deep into stoppage time when Sebastian Larsson curled a glorious free-kick into the top corner, beating Brian Jensen at his near post.

Owen Coyle was furious with losing the clean sheet at the death, but when he reflects with his players over the international break, they will be delighted with a fourth win of the Premier League season. But McLeish has worries. Criticised by home fans for a defensive team selection last weekend, this display was easily their worst of the season, and they won't collect many points on the road with performances like this.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

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