MATCH REPORT - BURNLEY 4, WATFORD 7

Blonds have more fun in eleven-goal Clarets' debacle

Burnley (4) 4

Scorers: Taylor 3 (15, 39, 45), Davis (34)

Watford (5) 7

Scorers: Brown (12), Hyde (16), Cox (25), Chopra 4 (29, 40, 61, 90)

Burnley (4-4-2): Beresford; West, Davis, McGregor (ONeill 76), Branch (Papadopoulos 61); I. Moore, Grant (Gnohere 46), Weller, Briscoe; Blake, Taylor. Subs not used: Michopoulos, Pilkington.

Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Mahon, Cox, Brown, Glass; Ardley, Hyde, Vernazza, Neilsen; Chopra, Smith (Norville 90). Subs not used: Robinson, Ifil, Hand, Lee.

Booked: Burnley McGregor (foul 45). Watford Nielsen (43 foul), Hyde (51 foul).

Sent Off: None.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 10,208.

Goal attempts: Clarets 15, Hornets10

Shots on target: Clarets 9, Hornets 9

Shots off target: Clarets 5, Hornets 1

Blocked shots: Clarets 0, Hornets 0

Hit woodwork: Clarets 1, Hornets 0

Corners: Clarets 12, Hornets 7

Off-sides: Clarets 1, Hornets 8

Free kicks conceded: Clarets 24, Hornets 19

By CHRIS BODEN

BEMUSED Burnley fans didnt know whether to laugh or cry after this latest debacle.

As the Clarets took joint ownership of the worst defensive record in the First Division, even Stan Ternent mused whether Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein felt their jobs were more desirable at present.

After a week of unrest in which fans were angered by Glen Littles loan switch despite the financial plus-points this was the last thing the club needed.

But spare a thought for Burnleys blond bombshells, whose efforts were almost forgotten in the aftermath.

Gareth Taylor gave another classic example of centre forward play as he netted the first senior hat-trick of his career.

If there is a better forward of his ilk in the First Division, I havent seen him.

His third goal took his seasonal tally to 16, matching his best-ever haul from last season, and surely underlining his credentials as Burnleys runaway player of the year.

And young Matty ONeill, handed his senior bow for the final 14 minutes, certainly provided the other bright spot of the afternoon.

He played with a confident swagger on the left flank, and certainly looks to have something about him.

His trickery and long throws made an instant impact on those who hadnt seen him in reserve team action.

Elsewhere it was a lamentable display as the winless run stretched to eight games.

Ternent said: It was schoolboy stuff at the back and I couldnt believe what I was watching.

But it has happened too many times this season that it dulled the shock 6-5 at Grimsby, 6-2 against Rotherham and 5-2 against Reading.

Three of these heavy defeats have also come at Turf Moor as the Clarets have earned the worst home defensive record in the First Division.

In fact, only Mansfield have conceded more at home, and in total, than Burnley in the country.

Ternents teams have always been built on a rock-solid defence, but that has evaporated this season.

Watford couldnt believe their luck. They had only netted 12 goals on their travels in 19 games, but had a field day as young Newcastle starlet Michael Chopra announced himself in style with four impressive strikes.

The loan man, netting his first senior goals, has graced Camp Nou and the Bay Arena this season, but Turf Moor will surely stick in his memory above both those occasions.

He probably wont have an easier afternoon for the rest of his career.

But it was ironic that Watford took Burnleys season to a new low.

No-one could have realised that their FA Cup quarter-final win would be such a fatal blow for the Clarets season, and they rubbed Burnleys noses in it at Turf Moor.

I asked after the last game, the 2-0 defeat against Bradford: Where do Burnley go from here?

And the question is even more pertinent now.

But there could be no better opportunity to silence the snipers than with a derby victory tonight.

The actual events of Saturdays game, rather than the ramifications of the result, might be considered unimportant in the scheme of things, but for the record, this is how a crazy afternoon panned out.

After 12 quiet minutes, Watford started the goal rush when Wayne Brown headed beyond Marlon Beresfords left hand from Neal Ardleys corner.

Within three minutes, great work from Robbie Blake down the left enabled Taylor to open his account, heading home at full stretch.

From the kick-off, Gavin Mahon fed a cross into the box, Micah Hyde slid in, and the ball somehow squirmed past Beresford.

There was a lull of nine minutes before Graham Branch conceded a corner, almost rifling home a Paolo Vernazza centre. But from Ardleys flag kick, Neil Cox rose unmarked at the far post to head in.

Three minutes later Chopra raced clear from Browns pass and lobbed Beresford with consummate ease.

Several Burnley fans headed for the exits, sick to the stomach with what they were witnessing.

But Burnley found a way back in the match with two goals in five minutes.

First Taylor headed on a Lee Briscoe corner for Steve Davis to head in at the back post, before Ian Moore spun Stephen Glass superbly and whipped in a cross that looped over keeper Alec Chamberlain for Taylor to nod in.

However, Watford broke instantly, with Chopra taking a Vernazza pass before slotting past a hesitant Beresford.

Burnley ended the half with the ninth goal in 33 minutes to give themselves hope, Taylor taking a Dean West pass with his back to goal before muscling out Brown and deftly flicking the ball into the corner.

Burnley started the second half the better, with Taylors low shot almost deceiving Chamberlain, while substitute Arthur Gnoheres header from a Blake corner was punched away.

Taylor then had saw a header hit the base of the post from another Blake corner, only to Watford to increase their lead on the hour.

Mahons ball down the line released Ardley, Beresford rashly raced out of his area and saw the ball nicked past him for Chopra, who slotted into an empty net.

Moments later Ian Moore headed sub Dimi Papadopoulos hanging cross over, while Beresford saved with his legs from Chopra.

Beresford who deserves better after his achievements with the club then denied Vernazza, to ironic applause from sections of the home crowd.

ONeill injected a bit of life into the final 14 minutes, seeing a shot deflected wide after ghosting inside Mahon, before a great piece of skill saw him beat Mahon to the bye line and loop a cross to the near post, where Taylor was again denied by the woodwork.

But Watford hammered in the final nail in injury time, Jason Norville scampering into acres of space down the left before finding Chopra with a deft clip. Chopra gleefully snapped up his fourth and the Hornets seventh of an incredible game.