ONCE again Brian Jensen turned out to be the hero of the (very long) hour on Tuesday night, when his spot kick saves saw Burnley through to the next round of the Capital One Cup.
Plymouth provided surprisingly tough opposition (tougher than Burnley fans thought they should be, anyway) and with the match deadlocked at the end of extra time, it was The Beast’s opportunity (and they are rarer ones these days) to show what he can do.
He has reasonable form in saving penalties (most famously Michael’s Carrick’s as the Clarets beat Manchester United in their Premiership campaign on 2009-10) and turned it on again in his testimonial year.
It was a game when Eddie Howe rang the changes but Burnley didn’t seem to muster any more energy than when they were outplayed at Huddersfield on Saturday.
Burnley supporters have no complaints about that result, beaten by the better team by far on the day as the Clarets were opened up too easily and didn’t offer much by way of reply. Martin Paterson’s prolonged absence is another worry as he was his live wire self against Bolton. It’s hard to imagine Pato ever taking his foot off the gas when on the pitch.
Suddenly the bright performance against Bolton Wanderers on the opening day seems like years away and the failure to respond to Huddersfield’s game seems to be the main concern of the Clarets supporters who went (and there were 3,000 of them to the game, and facing a difficult journey back after flooding closed the Hebden Bridge-Todmorden road).
With a fortnight’s grace from league football as the international fixtures pile in after Saturday’s home clash with Brighton (which we dearly hope is a more entertaining affair than the Easter 1-0 win), Eddie Howe will have the chance to take stock as to why the Clarets seem to have run out of steam so quickly after that promising start (while hoping the revival begins against the Seagulls).
In the meantime, let’s be thankful for small mercies, even if they take the form of a big Beast.
Now in his tenth year at Turf Moor, Jensen is an increasingly rare example of a player who has been at the club long enough to qualify for a testimonial.
These used to be much more common but are largely disappearing from the game as players increasingly move on as a matter of course every couple of years to further their careers or at least their pay packets.
It’s most unlikely now that you will see another John Angus, a title winner who spent his whole career at Burnley, or Andy Farrell, who donned every shirt incuding the goalkeeper’s between 1987 and 1994, followed by his work on the back room staff.
During that time the Beast, who had seemed a little unsettled in his career before his arrival at Burnley, had the season of his life as Burnley won promotion to the Premiership in 2009, sampled top flight football relatively late on in his career and even co-penned a biography “Beast - From Norrebro to the Premier League,” which is well worth a read as an insight into the hopes, fears and insecurity which affect a goalkeeper, who is often a lone focus of fans’ attention.
Ten years at the club saw him fight off competition for the number one shirt from Gabor Kiraly and although he was part of an alternative 11 fielded by Howe on Tuesday evening he is still a reminder to Lee Grant that he can’t rest on his laurels.
Good to see him take centre stage again.