Burnley welcomed Brighton to Turf Moor on Saturday, in a match from which – relatively – there were no drastic takeaways from a purely footballing perspective, unlike a few of the matches that took place on the day.
Burnley were all but assured of a Europa League berth for next season, having a considerable cushion in 7th over Everton in 8th, with a highly superior goal difference, after Southampton were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea the previous weekend. Brighton, at the time of writing, stand 5 points clear of the drop zone with 3 games to play. However, seeing that those 3 are against Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool, Chris Hughton would have hoped to secure 3 points at Turf Moor to alleviate some pressure at the end of the campaign.
Burnley started as expected, with Nick Pope keeping Tom Heaton confined to the bench. Ashley Barnes looked to continue his fine goal scoring form, starting alongside Chris Wood in a 4-4-2, pivoted in midfield by Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood.
Brighton did opt to change things up a little, with Bruno starting at right back for the second game in succession. Leonardo Ulloa got a rare start, with Glenn Murray benched for this one. Anthony Knockeart was preferred to Solly March down the right. Davy Propper was serving the final of his 3 game suspension.
The match itself did not boast too many chances, with clear cut goal scoring opportunities few and far between. A training ground corner routine fell to Bruno, who, despite getting good contact on the volley, was unable to steer it on target. Burnley’s first big chance was straight out of those video game compilations in which the ball simply refuses to cross the line, with Gudmundsson’s free kick causing utter chaos in the Brighton box, but despite the best attempts by Jack Cork and co to somehow steer the ball over the line, the visitors survived the scare, as the post repelled Kevin Long’s effort.
That was about as interesting as the half got, with book sides content to work their way around the opposition in a safety first manner, rather than go all in for the glory.
The second half was a replication of the first in many ways. Gudmundsson’s set pieces continued to ask questions of the Brighton back line, but the latter were able to come up with the answers to them all. Pascal Gross shone going forward, but he was able to orchestrate the scoring of a goal.
Unfortunately, the match was overshadowed by an act of unacceptable behaviour by a group of Burnley fans, whose booing of Gaetan Bong was condemned by Chris Hughton, with the FA following suit. The latter then went on to release a statement: “The FA considers the behaviour of some supporters on Saturday towards Gaetan Bong to be unacceptable. It needs repeating, following the recent disciplinary matter, that there was no suggestion by any party involved in that case that the player made a malicious or fabricated complaint. The FA was wholly satisfied that the complaint was made in absolute good faith. The FA takes all allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and continues to encourage all participants who believe that they have been the subject of or witness to discriminatory abuse to report this through the appropriate channels.”
A football match that made news for all the wrong reasons.
Written by Ayush Verma.