A new season starts and new hope is formed, but that felt short-lived. Town having lost in the play -off final and Burnley having been relegated was a stand-out fixture from the opening weekend. Both sides with new managers and Burnley having been completely overhauled and Town only having 5 players left from what started the last match, many were unsure of what to expect.
Burnley dominated the opening half controlling possession and overloading Town in key areas of the pitch. They played at a high tempo and closed down in numbers. Their play was very fluid with only really Barnes upfront sticking to his position. The movement was very reminiscent of Manchester City of the past 5 years. The only blessing for Town was that Burnley were wasteful when in good positions and once taking the lead they were happy to have a lot of possession in their own half. The goal for Ian Maatsen came after only 18 minutes. There had been a couple of early warning signs before then, but Town had appeared to defend the attack but the ball broke back for Burnley with Maatsen curling in well from inside the area.
Turton and Ruffels had been regularly exposed in the first half with at least 2 against 1 scenarios all the time. It was the same for Russel in the middle of the park. Koroma, Thomas, Holmes and Ward were isolated up the pitch, offering nothing in defence and so far removed from the other players that they could not link up with play.
The second half was at least competitive. Danny Schofield made no initial changes but we started to play a lot narrower with Thomas and Koroma dropping back a little more, we became more competitive in the middle of the pitch and were no longer being outnumbered in the key areas. We were still struggling though to create anything with Holmes and Ward very isolated. On 56 minutes Tino Anjorin and Jack Rudoni came on for Holmes and Koroma and instantly we had an inventive spark. Both players were dropping into midfield and running at the opposition. Burnley struggled with Tino and the only way they could stop him was to repeatedly foul, unfortunately though the set pieces from Thomas were poor. Burnley weathered the onslaught and then came back at Town and struck the post from a set piece of their own from debutant Scott Twine. Kasumu, Nakayama and Rhodes all came on before the end but we were unable to turn it around and Burnley were fair winners, a 1-0 defeat in fairness probably flattering Town.
Nicholls 7, Turton 5, Lees 6, Edmonds-Green 6, Ruffels 4, Russel 5, Hogg 5, Thomas 5, Koroma 4, Holmes 3, Ward 5. Tino 7 MOM, Rudoni 7.
Nicholls was solid as ever and kept us in the game. Lees and REG were very busy, they struggled with Barnes and had little on offer to distribute the ball to. Turton & Ruffels were constantly exposed as Koroma & Thomas provided them with no protection. Russel had no options when on the ball and so was dispossessed too easily. Hogg rarely was in posession and the play past him by. Koroma and Thomas were far too advanced and failed to make us difficult to beat, Koroma being wasteful in possession and Thomas being poor with the free kicks. Holmes had his worst game for Towm offering nothing in defence or attack and Ward failed to drop back and link up play. Tino and Rudoni were hard working and driving us forward so it was not all doom and gloom.
Danny Schofield -4. We were lucky to get away with a 1 goal defeat. The tactics were wrong from the start and we should have done something to change that in the first period. Hogg dropping back into the defence, us playing narrower and Holmes dropping back would have made us more combative without making any substitutions. We would have seen more of the ball but we failed to change anything in the first period. Second half he did change it and the first 2 substitutions did begin to change things for the better. It was a poor start, but against 1 of the title favourites not the worst result. Very early days for Danny and with Birmingham and Preston up next these are winnabe matches so I would expect to see very improved performances.