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Burnley beat Bournemouth 3-0 at home yesterday with three second half goals which brought a double over the Cherries for a second successive season.

It was a day of two VAR interventions and a possible third one missed, Burnley going on to win comfortably and tantrums in the Bournemouth technical area that saw one of their coaches sent off.

I was a bit concerned about this game. We’ve just been on a run where we’ve picked up results that, perhaps, a lot of supporters didn’t expect. This time, there was possibly too much confidence and expectation around going into a game against a team clearly in relegation danger as we head into the final third of the season.

The good news was that at least it all happened on a day when the rain held off and we were all able to get there and back dry for once but the brighter weather had left us with some very strong winds that I’ve always believed to be the worst conditions to play football in.

Bournemouth have had some injury problems recently but so have we. Ashley Barnes hasn’t played since New Year’s Day and now his strike partner Chris Wood was ruled out with the hamstring injury he felt last week at Southampton. Then he was replaced during the first half by forgotten man Matěj Vydra and the Czech striker came in for him in this game for his first start since November 2018 when he was in the team at West Ham. It was only his second Burnley home league start; coincidentally the other had come in the same fixture last season when he scored in a 4-0 win.

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Ahead of kick off, a minute’s applause was observed following the sad death of former Claret Brian Pilkington, a member of our title winning team of 1959/60. I think Pilky usually wore the number 11 shirt for Burnley and I suspect he might have been impressed yesterday with the player wearing the same number.

Now, those strong winds. Bournemouth played towards the Jimmy Mac in the first half and that was surely going to give them a huge advantage with the weather. It did and they gave us a testing first few minutes when first Phil Bardsley with a block and then a Nick Pope save were able to keep the score level.

Just past the twenty minutes we saw the first VAR intervention. Bournemouth won a corner on the left and when it came over, Josh King converted but Chris Kavanagh spotted a hand ball when he looked at things down at Stockley Park and the goal was ruled out.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Kavanagh had much alternative. It wasn’t VAR so much but more this ridiculous new handball rule. I’m no fan of VAR and certainly not this stupid new IFAB ruling on handball but those are the rules and the decision to disallow the goal was a correct one.

It nearly didn’t matter because within seconds of the restart they were close again with Pope saving well to deny Harry Wilson.

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Bournemouth were, overall, the better side in the first half but this was no way a one sided first half and we had our chances. Jay Rodriguez, for one, saw a good shot saved, as did Jack Cork, and Vydra had three opportunities. Visiting goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale twice denied him as he looked to follow up on his goalscoring exploits last week.

I feel that VAR might have got involved again when Steve Cook handled the ball in his own box. The ball did come up off his own leg but he clearly moved his arm towards the ball. Nothing was given and when that half time whistle blew I don’t think there were many Burnley fans who weren’t happy at going in with the score still 0-0.

How much had the strong wind benefited Bournemouth? Would we look better in the second half when we had it behind us? The answer was very much yes but Bournemouth might be asking themselves some questions of their own play when we took the lead eight minutes into the half.

I think the Burnley crowd was willing Vydra to score and he didn’t let the crowd down. He held his run perfectly when they tried to push up and play him offside. it allowed him to get into the box. He then stepped inside Simon Francis and then hit it over the out coming Ramsdale.

We were a goal up and the crowd had got their Vydra goal. Two in two games although he jokingly said after the game: “You have to count how many chances I missed.” No one cared at that moment, the support he’s had in these two games has been terrific and he’s repaid the fans with two goals and two good performances.

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Just a few minutes later we witnessed one of the most bizarre of events I’ve ever seen at the Turf. Dwight McNeil, of whom I’ll write later, crossed the ball from the left. Adam Smith, in trying to deflect the ball away from Jeff Hendrick, handled the ball. The voice to my right immediately shouted: “Penalty,” but we played on with referee Mike Dean definitely unsighted.

What complicated matters was that 16 seconds after Smith had handled the ball, Harry Wilson had put the ball into the net at the other end for what he thought was the Bournemouth equaliser. While all that was going on, Kavanagh was checking and, from what I’ve seen since, he undoubtedly got it correct when he indicated a Burnley penalty.

Jay Rod stepped up to scored the spot kick so instead of 1-1 it was 2-0 to us and Dean then had to go over and sort out those tantrums. I thought, initially, that Jason Tindall had been sent off,  but it was Neil Moss who walked down and climbed into the cricket field end.

There was still half an hour to play but from thereon in it was just a matter of whether we’d score any more to be honest. Ashley Westwood had a shot saved, so did Jay Rod on two occasions and Vydra almost had another but just couldn’t steer the ball on target from a Westwood pass that left him at full stretch.

The second of the Rodriguez saves is the appropriate time to reference McNeil. In this final period of the game Dwight gave us something of a master class in football. He was simply brilliant. On that Jay shot, McNeil picked up the ball just outside his own box and then made a blinding run down the left before playing in a wonderful ball for Jay. Ramsdale, unquestionably Bournemouth’s best player on the day, saved.

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There was nothing Ramsdale could do when Dwight smashed a shot across the post and definitely nothing he could do when the same player hammered home goal number three that might have got the slightest of deflections.

He’ll make his fiftieth Premier League appearance next week at Newcastle and that’s some achievement for a lad who was only 20 a few weeks before the end of last year. He’s apparently become the second youngest, behind Raheem Sterling, to have ten Premier League assists and there is so much more to come from him.

By the time he’d done all that, the Burnley fans had given Junior Stanislas a warm reception when he came on as a substitute and then gave Vydra a standing ovation as Aaron Lennon replaced him with eight minutes to go to give us an enjoyable little cameo. We even saw Bournemouth decide to reduce their now almost negligible goal threat by withdrawing Harry Wilson and replacing him with the prolific Dominic Solanke who is still searching for his first Bournemouth goal in 33 appearances.

It could have easily been four or five by then but we had to settle for three and we even got our first viewing of Josh Brownhill when he and Robbie Brady came on as substitutes in stoppage time.

Bournemouth did have one last chance which they fluffed late in stoppage time. it might have been fun had it gone in; it was offside and would have been ruled out.

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So, the recent positive run has continued and we are now on 37 points with eleven games to play and I am sure that the first objective of retaining our Premier League place has now been achieved. Do we need any more points? I’m not so sure we do but should we need a couple more I don’t think we are going to struggle with eleven games still remaining.

And just for the record, 37 is the most number of points we’ve ever had at this stage of a Premier League season although two seasons ago there were five successive wins on the horizon.

It was a game played in difficult conditions, but an enjoyable game and one not without controversy, or you would think so listening to the Bournemouth view of it.

This hasn’t changed my view on VAR or handball but rules are rules and, whichever way you look at it and whichever way it was done, they got the decisions correct.

Earlier in the day, Bournemouth had tweeted that they had arrived in Burnley, showing photographs of their players leaving an aircraft. They were asked whether they’d used the airport at the back of Towneley Hall so I can only assume they drove up Tod Road to get back for the flight home.

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Well done Burnley, tough in the first half but we played really, really well after the break and fully deserved this latest win and now the table looks so much better than it did in mid-January.

I’m off for some altitude training now ahead of our next game at Newcastle some 152 steps up in the Gods at St. James’ Park.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork (Josh Brownhill 90+1), Dwight McNeil (Robbie Brady 90+1), Jay Rodriguez, Matěj Vydra (Aaron Lennon 82). Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson.
Yellow Cards: Phil Bardsley, Aaron Lennon, Jeff Hendrick, Ben Mee.

Bournemouth: Jack Stacey, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Adam Smith, Dan Gosling (Ryan Fraser 70), Andrew Surman, Philip Billing, Harry Wilson (Dominic Solanke 74), Callum Wilson, Josh King (Junior Stanislas 70). Subs not used: Artur Boruc, Jack Simpson, Diego Rico, Lewis Cook.
Yellow Cards: Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Steve Cook.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Attendance: 18,227.

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