Dy­che hails his Burn­ley grafters as Mee keeps Euro­pean dream alive

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Sam Dean at Sel­hurst Park

Trail­ing by a goal with around 20 min­utes re­main­ing, Crys­tal Palace’s coach­ing staff des­per­ately needed to find a way to change the game.

What sort of tac­ti­cal tin­ker­ing could they con­jure up? What sub­tle tweaks might bring them level? The an­swer came from Ray Lew­ing­ton, the Palace as­sis­tant man­ager, whose in­struc­tions were clear for all to hear in an empty Sel­hurst Park. “F------ get a cross in,” he told the Palace play­ers, “and f------ get in there.”

And who said the Premier League has lost touch with re­al­ity? This was foot­ball at its most raw, with two full-blooded teams go­ing af­ter each other with ag­gres­sion, at­tri­tion and even oc­ca­sional tech­ni­cal qual­ity, es­pe­cially from the vis­i­tors.

As it turned out, it was Burn­ley who put the cru­cial cross in, and Ben Mee who suc­cess­fully “got in there”. Mee’s sec­ond-half header, from Ash­ley West­wood’s free-kick, brought the game’s only goal and moved Burn­ley up into eighth place, level on points with Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. All of a sud­den, an­other Euro­pean ad­ven­ture does not seem quite so fan­ci­ful for Sean Dy­che’s de­pleted side.

Europe is prob­a­bly now out of reach for Palace, who started the night level on points with Burn­ley, al­though Roy Hodg­son will know this game could have swung ei­ther way. Af­ter a slug­gish start, Palace forged enough chances, but they could not make the break­through against a Burn­ley side who de­fended with typ­i­cal de­ter­mi­na­tion. Burn­ley’s rise up the ta­ble is made all the more im­pres­sive by is­sues be­hind the scenes, where Dy­che’s re­la­tion­ship with chair­man Mike Gar­lick has be­come strained.

It is hav­ing no vis­i­ble im­pact on the play­ers, though, de­spite con­tract is­sues and in­juries. They had only seven on their bench again, but their alarm­ing lack of se­nior bod­ies seemed to bring out the best in those on the pitch. It was strik­ing to hear how vo­cal they were, con­stantly talk­ing and or­gan­is­ing.

Given the cir­cum­stances, Dy­che said, it was one of his “big­gest re­sults” as the club’s man­ager. “We have a side that does not make ex­cuses. They know we are thin on play­ers, but we are not mak­ing mis­takes. We are work­ing hard.”

The ac­cepted view of th­ese teams is that they, along with Sh­effield United, rep­re­sent the more agri­cul­tural side of the top flight. De­fen­sively solid, robust, al­ways hor­ri­ble to play against. No one can ar­gue that their re­spec­tive styles are not ef­fec­tive – just look at the ta­ble.

The “long ball” tag can feel a lit­tle harsh, not least in the open­ing ex­changes here, when Burn­ley passed imag­i­na­tively from the back. “Some of our foot­ball was ex­cel­lent,” Dy­che said.

Burn­ley were or­gan­ised and ready for the threat of Wil­fried Zaha, who found him­self up against two or three vis­it­ing play­ers ev­ery time he re­ceived the ball. Palace im­proved af­ter the break, al­though they could have lost Jor­dan Ayew to a red card when he swung an el­bow at Josh Brown­hill.

Just as Burn­ley ap­peared to be on the back foot, they took the lead. West­wood’s free-kick was met by Mee, whose header was di­verted in off the post, via Vi­cente Guaita’s palm. “We had op­por­tu­ni­ties around their area which could so eas­ily have led to their goal,” said Hodg­son. The best of those fell to Gary Cahill, whose shot was weak, and An­dros Townsend, who went close from range.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.