13/12/2014: Burnley 1-0 Saints
Saints suffered a 4th straight defeat at the hands of struggling Burnley. Ronald Koeman's side were well below their best for most of a poor match.
Burnley made a more energetic start to the game. Danny Ings' miscued header was easy for Fraser Forster to gather in the 1st minute. The same player shot wide a few moments later following another good breakaway. Saints were far too slow in possession. Jake Hesketh struck the ball over the bar from Sadio Mane's 9th minute knock-down.
After 15 minutes the tempo of the game slowed, with Saints gaining control of the ball. Ryan Bertrand shot over from a corner on 22. Burnley troubled the visitors with a goalmouth scramble after Hesketh had gone down injured. The game then entered a lull, only briefly livening up for a spell towards the end of the half. Ward-Prowse had half a chance from range. Saints never once opened up their opponents during the opening 45.
Saints made a slow start to the 2nd half. Koeman's men were wasteful in possession, and there wasn't enough urgency in the opponents half. Saints did start to put a few decent moves together as the game dragged on. Mane curled the ball over the bar on 58 following some great build up play. Moments later Bertrand was hacked down and Saints were given a spot-kick. Dusan Tadic shot low to Tom Heaton's left, but was thwarted by the Clarets stopper.
Koeman mixed things up slightly going forward, with Mane and Tadic playing more centrally as the full-backs were given great licence to push on. Saints looked slightly more dangerous as a result. Pelle latched on to Tadic's clever pass before shooting wide of the near post.
Just when Saints appeared to be finally getting it together going forward, Burnley hit back. The home side took the lead on 73 minutes. Ings pressed Clyne on the left flank, before the ball fell to Ashley Barnes, who sent Forster the wrong way with the aid of a deflection.
Saints attacked with desperation during the final quarter. Mane's 75th minute header was well held by Heaton. James Ward-Prowse hit the side netting from on free-kick on 80. Clyne clipped the post with a rocket of the shot late on. Finally, Victor Wanyama headed wide from Ward-Prowse's cross deep into stoppage time. It was a poor miss, and pretty much summed up Saints' day.
The three previous defeats were excusable to some degree, given the quality of the opposition and the number of injuries. Saints had players missing at Turf Moor, but could and should have caused Burnley more problems with the side that was put out. Aside from a few brief spells in the 2nd half, Saints weren't creative enough in the final third. Mane and Tadic haven't performed to the level they were at earlier in the season recently. On a more positive note, Ward-Prowse looked decent on his return. His delivery has been missed and could prove useful during the tricky festive period.
Forster: 6. Not entirely convincing again
Clyne: 6. Got caught out for the goal, but offered reasonable support going forward
Fonte: 7. Did well to get himself out of a few tricky situations
Alderweireld: 7. Calm on the ball and mostly good decision making
Bertrand: 6. A few misplaced passes, but generally attacked with purpose. Did well to win the penalty
Wanyama: 6. Got a bit sloppy towards the end of the game, but strong in other periods
Davis: 7. A good outlet for Saints, always showing for the ball. Some good skill too
Hesketh: 6. Made a solid start to the game before coming off injured as the result of a tough tackle
Mane: 5. Kept it simple without ever really testing the Burnley defence
Tadic: 6. A few bursts of quality midway through the 2nd half, but mostly quiet. Penalty miss proved to be decisive
Pelle: 7. Some classy touches. Involved in a few decent moves in the 2nd half, but also picked up a silly booking
Ward-Prowse: 7. Solid first match back. Nice to have someone who can take a good set piece
Long: Briefly injected a bit of energy into Saints' attack, but ineffective in front of goal
Burnley - Barnes (73)
Attendance - 17,287
Referee: Mark Clattenberg
Saints: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, S Davis, Hesketh (Ward-Prowse 32), Mane (Long 78), Tadic, Pelle
Subs not used: K Davis, Gardos, Yoshida, Reed, Mayuka
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Shackell, Mee (Lafferty 74), Arfield, Marney, Jones, Boyd, Barnes, Ings
Subs not used: Gilks, Wallace, Chalobah, Long, Kightly, Jutkiewicz