Full Time: Burnley 4, Sparta Rotterdam 1
Burnley ended pre-season with a comfortable victory over Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam.
Sean Dyche’s side begin the 2013/14 campaign against Bolton Wanderers at Turf Moor on Saturday as part of the Football League’s 125th anniversary on the back of four victories.
The hosts had to recover from a goal deficit though as the Jupiler League outfit - watched by former Claret Marco Gentile - broke the deadlock within three minutes when full-back Pieter Nys dispossessed David Jones before slotting the ball through to striker Johan Voskamp who rolled his effort across Tom Heaton and in to the far corner.
However, it took the Clarets just 90 seconds to respond and it was last season’s leading scorer with the leveller. Danny Lafferty battled for possession with Nys in the corner, eventually succeeding and crossing for the 24-year-old who rose above defenders Gijs Luirink and Crescendo Van Berkel to head beyond goalkeeper Khalid Sinouh.
The equaliser saw the pre-season fixture open up considerably and the Clarets were well in command, applying the pressure and finding gaps in a disjointed Sparta defence. Austin almost added another immediately when squeezing between Cendrino Misidjan and Van Berkel from Jason Shackell’s lofted pass, but with only Sinouh to beat he sliced wide of the target with the outside of his boot.
The home side pressed well, finding space behind the opposition full-backs, and it was Kieran Trippier who stormed down the right and crossed for Danny Ings whose failure to control unintentionally set up Austin but he could only drag a low shot wide on the turn.
A lack of communication in the visiting defence often saw the centre-backs dropping much deeper than their fellow defenders on the flanks with Sean Dyche’s side exploiting that downfall. Ross Wallace was the next player to benefit from such freedom after being found by Trippier and his squared pass went in to the path of Ings who had an effort blocked by Luirink from point blank range.
Nys had an effort which sailed over the bar from 20 yards as Shackell cleared a corner before Stanislas saw his measured attempt cleared off the line by the head of Luirink.
But Burnley’s pressure deservedly paid off and it was Dean Marney who added to his netbuster at Prenton Park midweek. Trippier provided the initial centre for Austin who traded passes with Stanislas deep inside the area before squaring for Marney who lifted the ball in to the roof of the net midway through the half.
And just moments later Ings notched his fifth in four outings following a delightful, intricate passing move from the hosts. Lafferty, Stanislas and Jones were all involved in a penetrating build up before Ings swapped passes with strike partner Austin on the edge of the box and slid the ball beyond Sinouh to make it 3-1.
The remainder of the first half was played at a similar tempo to the second, with the Clarets stepping off the gas while comfortably retaining their domination of the fixture against Netherland’s oldest professional football club.
Keith Treacy replaced Wallace at the beginning of the second half while Sparta boss Adrie Bogers took the chance to make a number of changes.
The visitors, relegated from Holland’s top tier last term with a last minute defeat on the final day to Roda JC, continued to be uneconomical in terms of distribution and failed to pose a threat though their travelling fans - stationed in the Bob Lord Stand - were in fine voice throughout the afternoon.
Austin, whose last league goal came in the 3-3 draw against Watford at Vicarage Road, grabbed his second and Burnley’s fourth in the simplest of fashion when Jones swung at Stanislas’s pass and the ball rolled fortuitously in to Austin who flicked the ball past the arm of Sinouh from close range.
And the linesman’s flag denied Austin his hat-trick with his glancing header from a Stanislas cross adjudged to have come from an offside position. The striker went close again with 10 minutes remaining and it was the result of another clever passage of play from the Clarets. Jones swept a diagonal pass out to Trippier on the right and the full-back traded passes with Treacy courtesy of a delightfully executed back-heel before crossing for Austin whose header crept past the post with Sinouh plunging to his right.
Then Marney, in outstanding form again alongside Jones in the centre, glided past two challenges before bursting to the edge of the box but lifting an effort over the bar. The win was comfortable for the Clarets, but they’ll face a much tougher test when Dougie Freedman’s Bolton are the visitors on Saturday, kick-off 12-15 p.m.