Analysis: Why poor game management cost Burnley victory against Southampton, not the referee

Burnley players and fans blamed referee Bobby for conceding a late equaliser as their winless streak continues.

Analysis: Why poor game management cost Burnley victory against Southampton, not the referee
Burnley players protest at the final whistle (photo: Getty Images / Rich Linley)

Referee Bobby Madley was subject to raucous jeers by the Turf Moor faithful and post-match complaints from Sean Dyche and his players after impeding Ashley Westwood in the build-up to Manolo Gabbiadini's injury-time equaliser on Saturday afternoon.

Panic at the back

The result left the Clarets without a win in 12 games but still holding onto seventh position. Ashley Barnes had given Burnley the lead with a controversial goal himself, appearing to bundle the ball across the line with his hand.

Yet questions were raised about referee Madley when he stood in the way of Westwood who was looking to latch onto a Barnes pass. There was no doubting that Madley's poor placement cost Burnley possession but they had plenty of opportunities to deal with the impending threat.

Gabbiadini found it too easy to brush central defender Kevin Long aside who appears to be a weak link in the back four with James Tarkowski injured. The striker made contact with Guido Carrillo's header back across goal as he was left free at the back post when no less than seven Burnley players were drawn into the near post.

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The containing tactic is beginning to be picked off

Immediately after the turnover in possession, Westwood and Jack Cork both had opportunities to stop Nathan Redmond in his tracks after the midfielder picked up the loose ball. It may be an unceremonious way of breaking up the game but with Burnley desperate to record a victory, such game management could have helped them across the line.

It was that lack of tackling that was missing from the Burnley game and has perhaps been their downfall in recent weeks. Great saves, last-gasp blocks and numerous clearances have been the basis of Burnley's success in the early stages of the season. Yet teams are beginning to find a way past the previously solid four who have been broken up by injuries in the last few months.

The Clarets made just eight tackles compared to Southampton's 24 on Saturday. At an average of 14.7 per game, only Manchester United and Bournemouth have made less challenges than the Clarets all season. 

Their defensive record is still impressive but when points are on the line, Burnley need to start putting a foot in further up the pitch rather than relying on their defence to soak up all the pressure. Defenders will naturally get tired in the later stages of the game and not be as sharp to produce blocks or clearances. It is no surprise that 72% of their goals conceded this season have come in the second half.