Burnley 2, Norwich City 0
Jonathan Redhead Outplayed and outfought Norwich City lost their second game of the week at Turf Moor this afternoon. Two fine Chris Eagles goals in five second-half minutes condemned the Canaries to defeat after another dismal away performance.
Outplayed and outfought Norwich City lost their second game of the week at Turf Moor this afternoon.
Two fine Chris Eagles goals in five second-half minutes condemned the Canaries to defeat after another dismal away performance.
City rarely threatened and the Clarets fully deserved their victory which keeps them flying high and leaves Glenn Roeder's men already looking over their shoulders at a relegation battle.
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If Leroy Lita had converted an excellent chance to make it 2-1 with a little under 20 minutes remaining it would have been extremely harsh on a Burnley side that could have won by far more.
Striker Antoine Sibierski failed to shake of the injury problems sustained in the midweek defeat at Derby, so Darel Russell was pushed up front alongside Leroy Lita, with Mark Fotheringham returning to the centre of midfield.
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City started in a 4-4-2 formation with Daryl Russell playing alongside Leroy Lita with Bell on the left wing, Lee Croft on the right and Fotheringham in the middle with Sammy Clingan.
The home side had a similar shape with Blake just off front man Steve Thompson, with Eagles and Wade Elliott as the wide men.
And it was the visitors who almost made the perfect start. The loose ball fell to Bell and he played Russell through but his left-foot shot from the edge of the box beat the diving Brian Jensen but also went past the post with less than a minute on the clock.
Bell was off to a flyer and a minute later he tried to get on the end of a Drury pass but Jensen rushed out of his goal to clear for a throw.
Burnley won the first corner in the fourth minute but City comfortably cleared Elliott's kick.
However Burnley probably should have scored a minute later as Eagles danced around Elliott Omozusi and his low ball in found Blake but he scuffed his shot and it was deflected through to David Marshall.
It was a frenetic start and at the other end Jensen was forced to dive to his right to keep out Lita's long-range volley from Russell's flick.
In the sixth minute Burnley almost opened the scoring. Blake played Thompson clean through and from the edge of the box fired past Marshall but against the post and away.
Burnley were rampant and in the 10th minute after Blake's initial free-kick was cleared, the ball was returned to him and he tricked his way to the by-line, and pulled the ball back for Clarke Carlisle. But Carlisle could not get a proper purchase on the shot and Omozusi was able to clear off the line. The danger was still not over and when the ball bounced around in the area, Fotheringham was forced to head Carlisle's effort away from underneath his own crossbar.
In the 13th minute danger-man Blake danced around the City defence once more but could not find a team-mate with his delicate chipped cross.
City were struggling to retain the ball and even when they did get into the Burnley half of the pitch they could not beat the Burnley offside trap as Russell and Lita were flagged offside by the assistant referee.
Burnley continued to press forward and Joey Gudjonsson was the next man to go close when his low cross from the left corner of the City box was deflected narrowly wide of the post for another Burnley corner, which came to nothing.
Three minutes later and the Clarets created another excellent chance as Thompson got free and teed up Elliott but his goal-bound shot hit the head of Drury and went out for a corner.
Bell was still City's best player although on one occasion he tried one trick too many after wriggling into the Burnley penalty area.
But on 26 minutes more good work from the winger led to another City opportunity. His high, curling cross from the left was headed out to Clingan, who controlled the ball on his chest but flashed a left-foot volley wide of the goal from 25-yards out.
However a goal would have been tinged with controversy as Burnley midfielder Chris McCann lay injured in the middle of the pitch although he soon got back to his feet with some help from the Burnley physio.
Burnley continued to look like a side near the top of the table and created another chance in the 30th minute, with Blake the architect once more. Again he made tracks down the left and after beating Omozusi he crossed to Thompson who could only head over the bar.
City offered little up front despite great efforts from the ever-willing Lita but the returning Fotheringham was struggling to get a grip on the game.
In fact the whole side were on the back foot as Burnley threatened almost every time they attacked.
Russell appeared to be dropping deeper into midfield to help his side, and from his flick Croft made tracks into the Burnley box. His cross was low and Steven Caldwell was forced into a last ditch interception to stop Lita opening the scoring in the 36th minute. And from Bell's resulting corner centre-back John Kennedy headed inches over from eight-yards out.
But City had a huge let-off in the 38th minute as Marshall saw Eagles' weak low shot go through his legs but luckily for him and Norwich City Thompson fired wide from a couple of yards out as the ball rolled free.
The referee stopped the game in the 39th minute as Gudjonsson and Clingan came together in a crunching tackle which left both men in agony. There was some pushing and shoving from both sets of players but when calm was restored Gudjonsson was eventually shown a yellow card.
With only three minutes left until the break City were almost handed a shock lead. Confusion between Jensen and left-back Steven Jordan saw the defender head the ball out of the reach of his own keeper. As Russell was about to pounce, Jensen recovered enough to force the City man into knocking the ball out for a goal-kick.
At the other end, Blake fired wildly over from a Thompson knock-down and the same player had the final opportunity of the first period, but missed his kick on the edge of the six-yard box as Graham Alexander's free-kick deflected into his path.
City went into the break all square, but could count themselves lucky after Burnley repeatedly threatened to open the scoring and would have felt aggrieved not to be leading the game.
t Half-time: Burnley 0, Norwich City 0
Neither side made any changes for the start of the second half with Roeder's words no doubt ringing in the ears of the City players.
It was Burnley who started on the front foot forcing an early corner which Doherty struggled to clear.
Neat interplay in the middle of the field between Clingan and Russell gave Bell a chance to stride forward but he smashed a right-foot drive well wide from 25-yards out.
However Burnley were keen to turn the screw and forced a corner out of Omozusi in the 53rd minute. It was taken short and from McCann's cross Caldwell headed over.
They were not to be denied and a minute later Burnley got the lead they deserved.
Blake played a fine ball inside Omozusi and into the path of Eagles. He was too quick to allow Kennedy to cover and toe-poked the ball between the legs of the on-rushing Marshall from eight-yards out.
City needed a positive response and forced a 58th minute corner their first of the second half, but Bell's kick was poor and was easily cleared.
Then Burnley struck again with another fine goal. From a quick free-kick Blake squared the ball to Eagles, who went clean through, but this time he opted to lift the ball over Marshall to double the home side's advantage with 58 minutes gone.
Four minutes later Roeder made two substitutions with Otsemobor coming on for Omozusi and Croft making way for Matty Pattison. Pattison went to the left-wing with Bell switching to the right.
On 65 minutes Burnley received their first booking when Thompson saw yellow for a late challenge on Drury. From the resulting free-kick Doherty headed the ball down to Russell but he could not control his volley from 10-yards out and it dribbled wide.
Burnley made their first change with 67 minutes on the clock with Jay Rodriguez coming on for Thompson.
Roeder made City's final change with Jamie Cureton replacing the ineffective Fotheringham and City tried desperately to find a way back into the game.
And it should have come a minute later when Lita passed up City's best opportunity of the match. Clean through on goal his volley with the outside of his right-foot went inches wide when he should have at least got the ball on target.
Burnley's second change of the afternoon came after 74 minutes with Kevin McDonald coming on in place of Gudjonsson.
Burnley looked to close out the game with Rodriguez looking lively and he fired a 75th minute shot well over the bar from 25-yards.
Caldwell then became the second Burnley player to be booked after a late challenge on Lita after 78 minutes.
A minute later and Burnley made their final change with the excellent Blake being replaced by Paterson.
City looked completely resigned to their fate and Burnley could have scored again after 82 minutes as McDonald created space on the edge of the box but shot wildly over.
Bell did produce a delicious cross on 84 minutes but the curling centre was inches too far ahead of Pattison as he dived in to head the ball.
Burnley almost made it three with a couple of minutes remaining when Paterson forced Marshall to tip over the bar at his near post.
Deep into injury time Kennedy blocked a goal-bound Caldwell effort from McCann's free-kick but two goals were enough to condemn City to defeat.
t Result: Burnley 2, Norwich City 0
t Burnley: Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson, McCann, Eagles, Thompson, Blake.
Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Paterson, Rodriguez.
t Norwich: Marshall, Omozusi, Kennedy, Doherty, Drury, Bell, Clingan, Fotheringham, Croft, Lita, Russell.
Subs: Otsemobor,Cureton, Bertrand, Pattison, Nelson.