Six out of six for classy Clarets
Burnley made it six wins out of six yesterday with a 3-1 win at Huddersfield and in doing so it wiped away those memories of our last two visits there.
First half goals from Stephen Ward, his first in the league for Burnley, Sam Vokes and the brilliant Ben Mee were more than enough to win this one in a performance that was so reminiscent of the 3-0 win at Charlton two years ago in that it said everything about our position in the league.
I used to love my trips to Huddersfield because we never used to lose there. My first visit was 45 years ago today when Colin Waldron scored the only goal in a 1-0 win and I was at every subsequent visit to Leeds Road where we didn’t suffer a defeat.
Our first two visits to the then named McAlpine Stadium both ended in 1-0 wins, courtesy of goals from Andy Payton and Dimitri Papadopoulous, but then things turned sour. Our last two games there ended in defeat when, it is fair to say we did not play at all well. There was the 2-0 defeat in August 2012 when we were simply awful and then in November 2013 when we improved in the second half only for referee Eddie Ilderton and his officials to take control with a series of bizarre decisions in a 2-1 defeat.
I always have things like that in the back of my mind. That last defeat had ended a 12 game unbeaten run and now we were going on the back of a 13 game run. I tried not to let it worry me too much; the only problem on the short journey over was the desperate need for a stop on the way.
Away trips always included a good lunch stop and yesterday’s was in Sowerby Bridge, just a few miles away from our destination and we arrived in very good time along with what seemed thousands of fellow Clarets.
We were greeted with the news that David Jones was back in the side at the expense of Fredrik Ulvestad who had endured a difficult hour at Fulham. That was superb news for me. He has his critics, but I think Jones is a massively influential player for us.
There were a few celebrities there to watch us. Danny Ings was in the crowd and I’m sure Kieran Trippier would have been had he been able; he sent his dad who was sat right behind us.
Tony Livesey was there. I reckon he gets more nervous than vice-chairman Barry Kilby when we need results. I saw him at half time when at least he was more relaxed. And Chesney was there. I know he’s Sam Aston in real life but the shouts towards him outside the away end were definitely for Chesney.
It didn’t take us long to get our noses in front although the goalscorer was probably a surprise. We won a corner on the right with Mee heading Jones’ flag kick back in only for Dean Whitehead to clear off the line. It led to another corner, this time from the opposite side. This time Jones found Michael Keane whose header down was met by Ward and his left foot did the rest.
It was Ward’s first league goal for the Clarets and as was pointed out to me, every one of the ten outfield players had now scored a league goal for us this season. That’s what sharing out the goals means.
Having said that, it was one of the tried and trusted goalscorers who doubled the advantage. Andre Gray received the ball from Matt Lowton down the right and brilliantly flicked the ball forward to George Boyd who was in acres of space.
Boyd got it absolutely right, coming in and squaring the ball low for Vokes. His shot was perhaps not exactly how he intended it to be but it hit the post and went in as the Burnley fans at that end went crazy.
I’m a nervous and frustrated watcher at times but I just smiled and said to myself that the points were won. We were so much better than Huddersfield, I really couldn’t see anything preventing us from winning this one.
Huddersfield weren’t good, but we were looking so good it was impossible to see how they could get back at us. I probably shouldn’t have been complacent because suddenly, a minute before the break, they pulled one back through Joe Lolley who, on the day, I thought was their best player.
It was a good finish from the Huddersfield man and I was so frustrated that we were going to go in for half time with just a one goal lead when our play had deserved more. It wasn’t to be though.
Gray had a half chance which he skied with the defender heading out for a corner on our right. This time it was Mee who met the ball in from Jones to firmly head home. We’d got our two goal advantage to take into the second half.
You knew they’d try to get at us more in the second half, and they did. They did hit the post with a shot from the right but it was covered and they did get one dangerous ball across that Sean Scannell decided not to bother attacking, but we were getting opportunities too on the counter and for most of the second half I thought we were every bit as likely, if not more so, of scoring the next goal.
As the game drew towards its close, they threw men forward but I’m not sure they created anything resembling a chance and I don’t think Tom Heaton had a save to make.
We saw the game out comfortably and were worthy winners and it was made even better with the news that Hull had dropped points while we all laughed at Derby losing a three goal lead at Rotherham.
It had been another outstanding team performance, albeit against one of the lesser teams in the division., an outstanding team performance in which Mee once more stood out.
I said it was reminiscent of the game at Charlton two years ago. I know we’ve got a long, long way to go yet. I know there are obstacles in the way and I know we’ll need a good few more points before we can even begin to get excited. But – I thought this performance had promotion stamped all over it.
I’ll be back to being nervous again next Saturday, but for now, let’s hail this team of ours that has just won six on the spin. It’s an absolute joy going to watch Burnley.
The teams were;
Huddersfield: Jed Steer, Tommy Smith, Mark Hudson, Martin Cranie, Jason Davidson (James Husband 84), Dean Whitehead, Emyr Huws, Tommy Smith, Joe Lolley, Karim Matmour (Jamie Paterson 56), Sean Scannell (Harry Bunn 55), Nahki Wells. Subs not used: Joe Murphy, Kyle Dempsey, Joel Lynch, Flo Bojaj.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield (Michael Kightly 75), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 85). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Dean Marney, Matt Taylor.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland).
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