|Burnley 1 v 1 Leeds United|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 29th August 2021 Kick-off 14:00
Late Bamford goal saves a point at Turf Moor
Sunday, 29th Aug 2021 18:33 by Tim Whelan
For a while it looked like Leeds were going down to another defeat in this scrappy game at Burnley, which would have left us in a difficult position in the table. But we kept going and finally grabbed the goal we needed.
There were two enforced changes to make for this early afternoon clash, with both Fipro and Klich forced out with the dreaded Covid, which is the second time for the Polish international. Llorente was back in as Bielsa played his customary three central defenders when confronted by two forwards, and Dallas switched to left-back while Rodrigo came into the midfield.
As the players took the knee before kick-off there was some noticeable booing from the crowd, the same set of fans who paid for the ‘white lives matter’ banner to be flown over one of the stadia before a match last season.
And it was noticeable there were more than a few empty seats in the home stands, which would have been full if they had given Leeds the whole cricket club end and accommodated the displaced home fans elsewhere. We won’t be sorry about Burnley costing themselves thousands in lost revenue, but it something to remember when they say they have to play the game in a primitive manner because they can’t match the budgets of the bigger clubs.
Leeds made a good start, but Burnley started to exert a measure of control as the tackles started to fly in and the booking count began to rise. They were working hard to close us down, and we seem to find it difficult whenever a team uses this Bielsa style tactic against us. They had also done their homework and seemed aware of the shooting prowess of Harrison and Raphinha, being quick to close these two down whenever they had an opportunity to let fly from outside the box.
Our best move of the half saw Rodrigo send Raphinha into a good position on the right, but the Brazilian’s effort was uncharacteristically poor, a ball across goal that was neither a shot nor a cross. Had he pulled the ball back for Bamford our centre forward would have had a great chance for the opening goal.
Apart from that Burnley were producing the best opportunities, along with a bit of rough stuff to try to exploit our weakness from set-pieces. Amidst it all though, Llorente was as commanding as ever at the back. The stats show that we concede only half as many goals per game when he is fit to play. Meslier produced a good save from Barnes and Bamford was fortunate when the ball deflected off his head at a Burnley corner and came back off his own post.
So it was goalless at the break, but if anything Burnley stepped up the pace in the second half. Though Barnes was lucky to stay on the field after a challenge on Phillips when he’d already been booked, as it certainly looked a worse foul than the one that had caused the Yorkshire Pirlo to pick up his own yellow.
Our best chance might have been for Burnley to go down to ten men, but Michael Oliver had decided to apply a bit of a ‘lighter touch’ and let the game flow a little, so they were to get away with some of their meatier challenges. And so it was that the home side were able to force their way in front just after the hour.
It came from another corner as Meslier tipped a shot from Tarkowski onto the bar and Leeds didn’t manage to clear the danger. The ball came back into the box for a shot from Lowton, and Chris Wood applied a deliberate deflection to turn the ball past Meslier. The touch from our former centre forward was crucial as our keeper had got down to save the original shot but had no time to adjust.
Bielsa responded to going a goal behind by switching to a more adventurous formation. Llorente was the defender removed, presumably to manage his comeback from injury, and Shackleton came on to bolster the midfield. Meanwhile Aaron Lennon had come on, so Burnley now had three former Leeds players on the field.
And with 17 minutes remaining the second sub saw Rodrigo replaced by Tyler Roberts once again. We had Gelhardt, Cresswell and Summerville on the bench, so isn’t it about time one of those had a go, to see if they could turn the game? Even so, we began to put Burnley under pressure, either because the home side fell back on defence, their fitness was no match for ours, or the Burnley goal had woken us up a bit.
As time ticked by I began to get concerned where a defeat would leave us in the table, with only one point from three games and Liverpool to play next. But with four minutes remaining we finally managed to grab the equaliser. Raphinha jinked in from the touchline and although his shot was blocked it came out to Shackleton.
His effort was deflected through to Bamford who instinctively reacted to score from close range, having been played onside by a defender behind the goal line. We might even have forced a late winner in the time that remained (which included four minutes injury time) with Burnley looking nervous, having lost to Brighton on the opening day after being in front.
But time ran out and we had to settle for a point, which was probably a fair result on the balance of play over the whole 90 minutes. Before the game I wouldn’t have said this was a great result, but in the end I was relieved to get the draw after we’d been a goal down so close to the end. As it is we go into the international break 15th in the table, but it’s too early to start worrying about second season syndrome just yet.
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