When Clarke Carlisle starred in a Channel 4 game show last month, the Burnley defender did not expect to return to Turf Moor and take centre stage in Burnley's very own version of countdown.
The clock is well and truly ticking on the Lancashire club's stay in the Premier League after a self-inflicted home defeat by their relegation rivals Wolves. Having taken 33 years to return to the top tier, Burnley are heading back to the Championship unless they can arrest a dreadful slide in the eight games remaining of their season.
Carlisle, who became the first Premier League player to appear on Countdown, is suffering more than most. Since his appearance in the spelling and mental arithmetic game show, the defender has endured a nightmare performance against Portsmouth and he again had a game to forget against Wolves.
Trailing to Matt Jarvis's first-half goal following an error by Tyrone Mears, Burnley fell further behind when a shot by the Frenchman Adlène Guedioura cannoned off Carlisle before finding the net. Burnley did pull a goal back through the substitute Steven Thompson, but Brian Laws's team are now three points adrift of safety having played more games than any of their fellow strugglers.
"This result has knocked the stuffing out of us," said the Burnley manager, whose decision to replace Chris Eagles with Thompson in the 54th minute was booed by frustrated home supporters.
"But the season doesn't end here," he added. "We still have eight games to play and it only takes one win to get us back in it." Burnley might have to attempt that without Danny Fox for at least their next game, as the defender was given oxygen on the pitch minutes before half-time and taken to hospital with a suspected cracked rib.
It only takes one defeat for Wolves to be back in big trouble, but Mick McCarthy's side at least showed at Turf Moor that they have the stomach for a fight. They weathered an early Burnley storm before edging ahead after Jarvis had latched on to a weak header by Mears intended for his goalkeeper, Brian Jensen.
The timing of Carlisle's own goal in the opening moments of the second half was a mortal blow to the hosts and earned Wolves only their second win in 11 League games. McCarthy was obviously delighted with his side's performance, but the Wolves manager knows there will be plenty of twists and turns before the season is over. "It gives us a bit more of a fighting chance," he said.
Referee: Steve Bennett
Man of the match: Jarvis
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content