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Match report

Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Saints give a good account of themselves against Burnley

Pre-Season Friendly
Saints (1) v Burnley (3)
Attendance [2,216]

Left: Gavin Swankie is thwarted on this occasion.

It was a rare but welcome warm summers evening for this first McDiarmid Park action of the new season as Saints welcomed back Owen Coyle, Sandy Stewart and their Burnley side to Perth.

Three of the Saints back four were unchanged from Inverness – Gary Irvine, Kevin Rutkiewicz and Stuart McCaffrey while Paul Sheerin’s place at left back was taken by a trialist – ‘Peanut’ moving into a more accustomed left wing role. Inside him were Chris Millar, Martin Hardie and Gavin Swankie. Andy Jackson partnered Peter MacDonald in attack.

The very healthy crowd were treated to two early goals as the visitors took the lead only to be hauled back less than two minutes later.

Ten minutes were on the clock when the Saints defence was posted missing as Wade Elliott sent in a cross from the right and Martin Paterson enjoyed the freedom to send an unmarked header in off the post, giving Euan McLean no chance.

However, within ninety seconds Saints had drawn level with a neat goal. Gavin Swankie picked up possession on the right and burst into the box and although Burnley’s Peruvian keeper Diego Penny parried the ex-Dundee man’s shot it rolled across the face of goal seven yards out and Paul Sheerin ran onto it and made no mistake.

With 20 minutes on the clock Andy Jackson was played in and beat the offside trap but Penny just beat him to the ball. However, his clearance went to Swankie wide right and his first time effort wasn’t too far away although Penny had recovered his position had it been on target.

Saints were playing some decent football although the imposing figure of Clark Carlisle was dealing with most of what came the way of the Turf Moor club’s defence. However, they were left exposed in 23 minutes when Peter MacDonald knocked the ball back to Kevin Rutkiewcz and his parting effort was only just wide with Penny well beaten.

Chris Millar had the ball in the net from a Sheerin pass in 29 minutes but the effort was correctly ruled out for offside but that proved to be significant because four minutes later Burnley were back in front. It was a poor goal to lose because we had been in possession thirty yards from goal but Martin Hardie lost out and the visitors broke down the right through Paterson and the scorer of the first goal became goal provider as he sent in a teasing cross which was met by Adi Akinbiyi who neatly first-timed it into an empty goal with McLean caught flat footed.

In an entertaining first half Saints were by no means overawed by their Championship opponents and four minutes before the break Gavin Swankie almost unpicked the Clarets’ defence with a chipped pass to MacDonald but his effort was just intercepted.

Saints started the second half with Derek Holmes on for Peter MacDonald while Burnley made three changes.

The most notable event of the opening ten minutes of the second half was referee Stephen Finney’s decision to “enforce the substitution” of Martin Paterson after the Burnley man had reacted angrily to a decision that went against him – presumably an effort by the match official to avoid issuing a yellow card in a friendly fixture.

Liam Craig and Steven Milne replaced Martin Hardie and Andy Jackson just before the hour mark as Saints tried to get back on level terms – Chris Millar just failing to get on the end of a Swankie cross.

In 66 minutes Burnley sub Kalnins got on the end of an Alexander cross from the right and McLean did well to parry his effort away while at the other end Gavin Swankie tried his luck from distance after running onto a Gary Irvine ball.

Owen Coyle used all his eight outfield substitutes during the course of the second half and together with a number of changes made by Derek McInnes it resulted in a less fluent period of play but there was still entertainment to be had by the shirt-sleeved crowd and they saw Steven Milne fire not too far wide after scampering down the left wing and cutting inside.

Saints continued to play some decent football and 10 minutes from the end the impressive Swankie played a neat ball into substitute David Weatherston and the former Queen’s Park man managed to dig the ball out from under his feet for a shot at goal but Diego Penny was equal to it and pushed it wide for a fruitless corner kick.

Saints had looked the likelier team to grab a late goal but with two minutes remaining it was Burnley who sealed the win with a third goal. Steve Jones found space on the left and his cut back was met by Alex McDonald who netted from six yards.

Liam Craig had a late chance but saw his effort go just over the bar and that was the end of the action.

A good work out for Saints who were unfortunate to lose by two goals and there will be a number of plus points for Derek McInnes as we head into the opening competitive fixture of the season Saturday up in Dingwall.

SAINTS: McLean (Trialist), Irvine, Trialist, Millar, Rutkiewicz, McCaffrey, Swankie (Reynolds), Hardie (Craig) Jackson (Milne), MacDonald (Holmes), Sheerin (Weatherston).
Subs not used: Kerr

BURNLEY: Penny, Duff (Alexander), Kalvenes (Jordan), Mahon (Kay), Carlisle, Caldwell, Blake (Berisha), McCann (Gudjonsson), Akinbiyi (Jones), Paterson (Kalnins), Elliott (McDonald).
Subs not used: Jensen.

Att: 2,216

Below left: Andy Jackson in a tussle for the ball
Below right: Martin Hardie got another important slice of match action tonight

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