Crash and Burn(ley)

After being made favourite for promotion by Brighton manager Tony Mowbray, we travel to Turf Moor to take on twelfth-placed Burnley for a midweek fixture. Mowbray’s words have evidently had an influence on the bookies, who make us 5/4 favourites. I name an unchanged starting XI, which sees Jonathan Bond make his 100th career league appearance. Portsmouth manager Sean Dyche, rumoured to be interested in Sean Morrison, is one of the 9356 in attendance. Bradley Johnson has been getting plenty of praise recently, but Johnson of Burnley hits a fierce shot in the 5th minute that thuds against the post and bounces clear, an early warning that the underdogs mean business. Ten minutes later, an inswinging corner from Wallace is headed in by Futacs from 6 yards out to put the hosts in the lead. Burnley’s goal seems to wake us up and in the 19th minute, a Jonny Hayes free kick is met by Bradley Johnson, but he heads just wide. Sean Morrison picks up a booking in the 27th minute, which should prove to Sean Dyche that he doesn’t mind getting stuck in. In the 29th minute, Varga runs down the left and crosses; he finds Jonny Hayes 6 yards out, but a brilliant diving save by Grant keeps the ball out and Burnley clear to preserve their lead. The 36th minute sees Catalin Rentea join Sean Morrison in the book after fouling Wallace and six minutes later, Varga is fouled and Simpson becomes the first Burnley player to go into the ref’s book. We have the first chance of the second half in the 48th minute when Hayes shoots from 16 yards, but it’s straight at Grant and ends up being cleared for a corner. Ten minutes later, Blake becomes the 4th player in the book, with Varga again being the man fouled. Wallace and Futacs combine again with an inswinging corner in the 68th minute, but Futacs’ header at the far post is tipped over by Bond. A minute after nearly doubling the lead, Futacs is booked, but not for fouling Varga; this time, it’s Berger who is fouled. With three minutes to go, Bertin Matip finds Federico Cenci, who finds the net from 16 yards. Unfortunately, it’s the side netting and Burnley record the win. Wallace is named Man of the Match with a rating of 8.1 and an assist and we stay 4th in the league.

Bristol Rovers offer to loan Aaron Walker for a month, I accept and he agrees to go. As Walker goes, Joshua Webb returns from his loan spell at Bristol Rovers. There’s good news on the injury front as Jagos Vukovic begins full training following his sprained wrist and Aiman Mustafa does the same after his sprained ankle injury. More trialists join – Belarusian DR Sergey Mrinskiy for a week, Chinese CB Jin Haotian for a week, French DR/C Gabriel Catalino Salibur for a week and Czech ST Martin Salak for 2 weeks. Roberto Carlos Gutierrez Ramos is called up by El Salvador U23s for their Olympic Games North American Qualifying Round.

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