Burnley sunk by Olsson's 'dive' on day of 40 arrests

Burnley 0 Blackburn Rovers 1
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The Independent Football

At least there was a sense of injustice to dilute the emotions on yet another afternoon of despair for Burnley as, in all likelihood, their most bitter rivals gleefully danced on the grave of their hopes of staying in the Premier League.

Brian Laws, the Burnley manager, insisted that he was not clutching at straws when he criticised referee Mike Dean's decision to award a penalty for Tyrone Mears' challenge on Martin Olsson, but with just one win in 21 Premier League matches, he acknowledges that even his club's fans, who have not seen their team beat Blackburn in 31 years, will be losing hope.

His players have to be admired for their persistence but this most crushing of disappointments will take some getting over but, having won just once in 12 matches since Laws took charge in January, even that will not be as difficult as achieving the four wins from six matches he feels will be required to survive.

With just one point on their travels all season, they travel to Hull on Saturday. Now 19th in the table, the fact that they have picked up just a point from home games against Portsmouth, Stoke, Wolves and now Blackburn shows why only a run they are giving little sign they are capable of will be enough to keep them up.

The key moment came when Olsson was sent clear by David Dunn's header and went down under minimal contact from Mears as he attempted to take the ball around goalkeeper Brian Jensen.

After the penalty award, an object, thought to be a coin, was thrown from the stands at Dean, which is likely to be investigated by the Football Association, just eight days after Chris Kirkland was hit by a coin thrown from the Burnley section in Wigan's 1-0 win at the DW Stadium.

A bottle was thrown at Jensen before the game even kicked off, the toilets in the away end were trashed by Blackburn fans, who ripped up 150 seats from their section, while both sets of fans clashed with police after the match, leading to over 40 arrests.

"Olsson took a dive, he's conned the referee," Laws said. "The referee's not in a great position and he's given the penalty which was very harsh and left us with a mountain to climb. Everybody will write us off and say we're down, maybe even our own supporters, but it's still mathematically possible. We're going to have to get three or maybe four wins but we won't give up."

Before Dunn converted from the spot, Olsson had an effort wrongly ruled out for offside but Blackburn should have won by a wider margin, with the Swede also thumping a drive against the underside of the bar and on to the line. Burnley's only opening of the second period saw Danny Fox's driven cross flicked away by Chris Samba with Steven Fletcher about to put the ball in at the far post.

Manager Sam Allardyce could afford to be magnanimous. "In a big game like this you need a little bit of luck and perhaps we've had it," he said.

Burnley (4-1-4-1): Jensen; Mears, Duff, Cort, Jordan (Fox, 43); Alexander (Eagles, 71); Paterson (Blake, 59), Elliott, McDonald, Nugent; Fletcher. Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Carlisle, Thompson, Cork.

Blackburn Rovers (4-1-4-1): Brown; Salgado (Chimbonda, 85), Jones, Samba, Givet; Nzonzi; Diouf (Emerton, 66), Dunn, Pedersen, Olsson; Roberts (Di Santo, 74). Substitutes not used: Bunn (gk), Grella, Kalinic, Hoilett.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Burnley Alexander, Duff, Fox. Blackburn Samba, Givet.

Man of the match: Olsson

Attendance: 21,546.