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Bird's Eye View: Heads You Win!

5 December 2012

Clarets Player commentator Phil Bird's weekly football chat

Heading in the Right Direction:

I thought Sam Vokes’ headed equaliser was the very least we deserved from Sunday’s East Lancashire derby. We remain without a win against our closest rivals since 1979 but we can be very proud of our performance in front of a packed Turf Moor.

Only the brilliance of ex-England keeper Paul Robinson kept us out in a scintillating first half when we were very much on top, so much so that a two or three goal advantage wouldn’t have flattered us at that stage.

Overall we had 20 attempts on goal against a side that has spent 18 seasons in the Premier League. That tells you a story. There were far more positives for Sean Dyche than his Rovers counterpart Henning Berg, who looks under pressure already.

If you include Gordon Greer’s own-goal (Brighton and Hove Albion) I make it we have scored with an incredible 18 headers this season. I can’t remember a season like it.

We look a major threat whenever the ball is in the opposing box. Some of the crossing has been exceptional and Junior Stanislas produced another fantastic free-kick in the 89th minute that created the opportunity for Vokes against Rovers. And we nearly won it with another header from Vokes from a fine Dean Marney delivery.

Yet we aren’t a direct side. We play football and it’s a question of waiting for the right opportunity to get the ball in the box. 

Vokes hasn’t played a lot of football, yet he has appeared in every Burnley league game this season.

His two league starts and substitute appearance tot up to less than 400 minutes of league football this season. He played a big part in Wolves 2008-2009 Championship winning season, albeit often playing second fiddle to Chris Iwelumo and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Only just turned 23, Vokes looked a handful in the latter stages on Sunday. He has worked very hard on his fitness and will be pushing for more game time in the weeks and months ahead.

On the Road Again:

The Clarets are Forest-bound on Saturday. It’s another gripping encounter in the tightest Championship for years. It seems Sean O’Driscoll was in the frame for the Clarets' job in 2010.

He’s taken over from ex-Clarets’ boss Steve Cotterill at the City Ground and will be expected to mount a promotion challenge this season. After a takeover he has been given funds and the signings of Henri Lansbury, Adlene Guedioura and Simon Cox have been for big money.

In addition, the loan deals for Billy Sharp, Jermaine Jenas, Alan Hutton and Sam Hutchinson make them one of the big spending clubs in the division.

It’s two wins out of three for the Clarets at the City Ground. Our most recent form is impressive. Jay Rodriguez got both goals last season (and missed a penalty!). Back in 2008 Graham Alexander was the hero with both goals.

Before that we went 15 visits without a win stretching back to the 1960’s. I’m hoping for more of our most recent form!

Theatre of Dreams

Burnley’s youth side go to Old Trafford on Friday night to face ten-times winners Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup third round. As draws go it’s a tough one, just about as hard as you can get.

But what an experience for our youngsters playing at one of the best venues in world football. The young Red Devils side will start the tournament as favourites.

Both sides were losing semi-finalists last season. Terry Pashley’s team performed magnificently to reach the last four before losing out to Blackburn Rovers, while United lost to eventual winners Chelsea.

We did knock United out of this competition in 1967-68 after a replay on the way to winning the trophy. We wish them well on what will be a fantastic night.

Count Us Out!

As there ever been a game you refused to attend? Understandably many Clarets fans elected to swerve the game at the Milton Keynes Hockey Bowl back in September 2003 after Wimbledon were, somehow, allowed to up sticks and relocate to Buckinghamshire.

Well, Rangers fans won’t be going to Tannadice to see their club face Dundee United in the Scottish FA Cup. It seems Rangers are unhappy with the aggressive part United reportedly played in their demotion to the third tier of Scottish football and new owner Charles Green will not accept a ticket allocation! 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Burnley FC.

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