BTL’s Abu Yasin delivers the match report live from Turf Moor as Luton Town escape by the skin of their teeth with a 1-1 draw that had the taste of a victory.
Another day, another VAR controversy. In a crucial six-pointer between relegation candidates Burnley and Luton, it looked like Burnley was going to record only their second victory at home all season going into extra time. Until Carlton Morris headed in a controversial 92nd-minute equaliser, which felt like a defeat to Burnley fans and players alike. At full time yet again, all you could hear was a chorus of boos from the home support and ecstasy from the away fans. This seemed like a huge missed opportunity for the Clarets, and maybe the final nail in the proverbial coffin.
The game started at a quick pace with both sides testing each other’s keepers. After intricate build-up play, Johann Gudmundsson was found running in behind Luton’s defence by Zeki Amdouni. The Iceland international could shoot straight at Kaminski in goal. Soon after, Ross Barkley sprayed a delicious ball across to Chiedozie Ogbene, who then cut it back to the Englishman on the edge of the box who lashed an effort towards the goal, prompting an excellent save from James Trafford.
It was clear Luton was aiming to penetrate in behind Burnley’s left-hand side, as with all the talent that Wilson Odobert has going forward, defensive awareness is not one of the Frenchman’s best attributes. Multiple times, Ogbene got the ball in behind Burnley’s left back, Ameen Al-Dakhil, especially by Barkley who put in another wonderful performance. Still, his passes were for nought as the Irish winger did not create anything of note whatsoever. Then soon after Luton was punished.
In the 36th minute, Odobert was 1 v 1 with Teden Mengi on the left-hand side. The Frenchman with a step over and a quick burst of pace left the United youth graduate reeling and cut the ball back to Amdouni in the centre of the box. The first-time finish by the Swiss international was too powerful for Kaminski to save and it was 1-0 to Burnley.
The second half came and honestly quickly went. Luton controlled possession but could not create any clear-cut chances due to the defensive effort Burnley put in. Coming into the game, Kompany’s side came into the team with multiple injuries, which forced them to start a rejigged defence.
This was composed of Hjalmar Ekdal making only his third Premier League appearance of the season. The Swedish centre-half handled Elijah Adebayo excellently all game and was indicative of how Burnley performed. Dogged defensively, clearing the infinite number of crosses Luton pumped into the box and reducing their attacking threat to zero. The only blip was a mix-up between him and Dara O’Shea which nearly let Lokonga in.
Burnley has lost 18 points from winning positions this season and in the second half, you could see why. They got into numerous good positions, but a bad touch or a wrong decision seemed to let them down. Odobert almost scored with a deflected effort which Kaminski smartly got down to. You could sense this indecisiveness could come back to bite them, which it did in the cruellest of ways.
Every cross which came into the box was caught by Trafford. The young English keeper had an imposing performance and it seemed like in the 92nd minute when Alfie Doughty sent in his umpteenth cross, it would be business as usual. But he didn’t and seemingly flapped at it, with Morris then heading it into an empty net.
The whole ground then stood still, with Luton not knowing whether to celebrate and Burnley not knowing if it counted. The referee then gave it, and all hell broke loose. Kompany was irate on the sidelines and in the post-match interviews and the Burnley players shell-shocked it was given.
Looking at the replays, it was clear to see that Adebayo had blocked Trafford from claiming the ball. The only question was whether Trafford was ever claiming the ball because it was some distance away. But still, an infringement is still an infringement and the fact VAR never asked the referee, Tony Harrington, to have a look at the monitor was astonishing. Kompany lambasted VAR after the game with Edwards remaining indifferent stating it was not clear enough to overturn.
The game finished 1-1, feeling like a victory for Luton and a defeat for Burnley. It was Luton’s 12th goal this season after the 80th minute and represents their never-say-die attitude. For Burnley however, it sounded like the funeral bells were tolling at full-time.
This draw leaves them four points adrift of Everton in 17th who have a game in hand. And with Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal coming up in three of their next four games, it’s impossible to see the Clarets staying in the race to survival.
By: Abu Yasin / @Abuy2j
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Mike Egerton – PA Images