CITY 0 BURNLEY 1
Match Report by Trust Member – Eddie Blount
On the evidence of the first two games those who thought we were involved in a difficult relegation struggle last season ain't seen nothing yet. The performance against Burnley was straight from the darkest days of Craig Levein's reign and thoroughly deserved the boos of the crowd at both half- and full-time. In short it was truly pathetic.
The first half hour saw little to choose between the two sides with Burnley getting men back in numbers on the very few occasions we threatened. Former City favourite, Frank Sinclair, was instantly recognisable earning a booking for scything down Fryatt on the edge of the Burnley box after a mere two and a half minutes. Cue surely to start running at Frank to draw another inevitable foul but not once did we do this and he strolled through the rest of the game. Chances were almost non-existent, save for Fryatt dispossessing a defender in the penalty area and shooting straight at the goalkeeper from an impossible angle. To be fair he had little choice but to shoot as no other City player managed to get into a goal-scoring position. Where was the midfield?
A corner to Burnley on the half-hour was the signal for two minutes of high drama. We expected the worst knowing City's chronic inability to deal with set pieces and remembering it had only taken eight minutes of the new season before we conceded yet another set-piece goal. This time the ball was knocked out to the edge of the box centre-field, where as always, the space was totally clear for the opposition and Henderson did really well to push a thunderous shot against the underside of the bar before the defence scrambled the ball away.
Moments later City conceded a free-kick, wide left and just outside the area. Past experience has taught us that this is prime territory for opposition goals. However this time the kick merely struck the bottom edge of the bar, bounced down and in the ensuing melee was twice kicked off the line before being hacked away to safety.
Some of the crowd of just over 19 000 might have thought this was to be City's night given that it was still 0-0 and could easily have been 0-2. They were proved optimistic by another free-kick, from virtually the same place, moments before the interval. This illustrated a major difference between the two sides. City were usually ineffective from set-pieces with players standing still and delivery often poor. Burnley showed how it should be done with delivery into space and players making decoy runs. Andy Gray left his marker for dead and glanced a simple header past an unprotected Henderson. City trooped off seconds later mortally wounded.
The crowd, to their credit, did their best to lift City in the second half but it would have been easier to raise Lazarus. Burnley adopted a 'what we have we hold' policy, easily containing our long ball efforts and moving the ball swiftly downfield from time to time to let us know who was boss.
We only seriously threatened once when a corner fell invitingly to Low, shortly after he came on for Maybury. He struck it well enough but against the bar and over for a goal-kick. Fryatt summed up the sense of frustration felt by players and crowd alike when, having been flagged for offside he picked the ball up and thumped it high into the crowd for a booking that was on the worst side of stupid. Johnson, making his home debut, also picked up a second half booking which owed more to frustration than malice.
In the last 15 minutes City penned Burnley back in their own half but there was no cutting edge and we could still be playing now and not have scored.
So where has it all gone wrong? The answer surely lies in midfield. Burnley were so much better than us in this vital area, running further and faster, tackling harder and passing better. They worked the ball out of defence through midfield, not over it as we eventually did. Our midfielders were too slow and nothing like as sharp as their Burnley counterparts. Kelly replaced three midfielders with his three substitutions so it is obvious he knows where the problem lies.
Henderson: Made some good saves but occasionally uncertain with crosses and his kicking was unforgivably indifferent
Stearman: Got forward well at times but defensively not at his best and passing out of defence needs to improve.
McCarthy: Set-piece defending and passing from the back both have much room for improvement
Kisnorbo: Did some good things but did not look match-fit and made at least two serious errors that could have led to goals
Kenton: Tried hard but is a poor header of the ball, has a poor first touch and does not pass well. Did not take to playing on the left.
Maybury: Not in the game enough for me. He can be outstanding but he wasn't tonight.
Williams: Some neat touches but Burnley marked him closely and without the space he is not the same player.
Johnson: A Lilian Nalis look-alike who played like Nalis – on an off-day! Nothing like a replacement for Joey. Lucky to get 90 minutes.
Tiatto: So ineffective he was vigorously cheered off when subbed. Hardly ever got forward and his partnership with Kenton was a disaster.
Hume: Dropped deeper to see where the ball was but had no luck and no support from midfield.
Fryatt: Rubbish (long ball) service which left him in frustrated isolation. Did all our, few, best things up front.
Hughes (replaced Williams): Never really got into the game and was no more effective than Williams.
Hammond (replaced Tiatto): Had one fair shot and kept up with their midfield but still weak at basics when put under pressure
Low: Had our best shot, put in a few decent crosses and deserves another chance on Saturday against Ipswich.
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation