Burnley 4, Rochdale 1: Chris Boden's thoughts on a memorable night for Jay Rodriguez

"You want players to be knocking on the door through their performances, not just their words - can they perform at a level that says 'I'm ready', 'Don't forget about me'.”

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 10:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 10:18 am
Jay Rodriguez

Those were the words of Sean Dyche at Monday’s pre-match press conference, and Jay Rodriguez certainly gave the boss a reminder of what he is all about with an historic four-goal haul against Rochdale.

And his claim for a Premier League start could be hard to ignore.

While the opposition was a game League 2 opponent, the Burnley-born striker underlined that his predatory instincts remain intact, at a time where the side are struggling to capitalise on their chances in the Premier League.

Rodriguez was ruthless in a 12-minute dismantling of Dale, who enjoyed three minutes dreaming of glory, before they had those dreams shattered by a quick fire hat-trick.

The former England international went on to add a fourth, in a repeat of the scoreline from the last meeting of the near neighbours nearly 28 years ago, when the Clarets again won in the FA Cup, with a treble from David Eyres.

But will he have done enough to warrant a shirt at Leicester City on Saturday?

Rodriguez has struggled for a regular slot in the side alongside main man Chris Wood, with Matej Vydra predominately preferred in the last few games of last season, and Ashley Barnes so far this.

He has been sitting on 99 league goals since February, but has always shown a taste for the League Cup.

Thirteen years ago today, he scored his first Burnley goal as the then-Championship Clarets knocked out Premier League Fulham at Turf Moor, in a season where they also dumped out Chelsea and Arsenal to reach the last four, where Rodriguez's goal incredibly took the tie against Spurs to extra time, Burnley recovering from a 4-1 first leg deficit.

Rodriguez has since netted another 10 goals in this competition, including Burnley's last four-goal haul against Burton 10 years ago, and on Tuesday night his tally took him past Andy Lochhead and Frank Casper as the club's all-time top scorer in the League Cup.

The challenge now is to find his scoring touch again in the top flight, but he couldn't do much more against Dale to stake his claim - as did new signing Maxwel Cornet.

Cornet was involved in three of Rodriguez's four goals, and could have had a bagful himself on his first start for the club.

One chance in the first half he should have buried, but with the other three openings he had, credit must go to Dale keeper Jay Lynch for closing down the space well and staying big.

However, Cornet showed he will give the side a different dimension altogether.

While against Arsenal, he, in the main, kept his passing simple, but was positive and even popped up in the area to force a save, here, he was a constant threat, staying wide, while showing good movement when coming in off the line, or beyond the strikers.

On the ball, he also showed his ability, with one dribble leading to Rodriguez's second, courtesy of Vydra's unselfish lay off - with the Czech forward also impressing, without getting the goal he would have deserved.

While Cornet caught the eye, Aaron Lennon was lively on the other flank, with his pace from a standing start still there, even at the age of 34.

He has always grafted in a Claret and Blue shirt, but you often felt he could have provided more in the final third.

On Tuesday, with the caveat again that it was against League 2 opposition, Lennon's little give and gos got him to the byeline time and again, and his centre for Rodriguez's fourth begged a goal, whether the Clarets striker got there first, or the defender.

Both wide men suggested they would be worthy of a start against Leicester, and all of a sudden, there is genuine competition in the wide areas.

The Clarets will be disappointed with the goal they gave up, although Dyche felt there was a foul in the build up, Jake Beesley skipped past Nathan Collins all too easily before beating Nick Pope's left hand.

That gave the two thousand or so visiting fans hope of a famous upset - 30 years to the day since a 1-0 win at Turf Moor in the Fourth Division when the Clarets were frustrated by their own back up keeper David Williams, on loan at Dale.

That hope was extinguished within three minutes, as Rodriguez began his goal glut, and, while Dale boss Robbie Stockdale felt 4-1 flattered Burnley, in truth, it could have been a lot worse for his side had the Clarets taken all their chances.

They took four in the end, and that clinical edge will have to be found in the Premier League moving forward.

But, a win is a win is a win, and the result and performance can't hurt the confidence of the players, who have played well in large chunks of their games this season, without reward.