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1920 burnley turf moor 05 1000x500Boxing Day 2018 was on the minds of a lot of Burnley fans yesterday when Everton came to town. They beat us 5-1 that day and it proved to be a turning point for us in the season and beyond into this season so it really was sweet for us yesterday when a Jeff Hendrick goal gave us a 1-0 win.

Things have changed a bit since that last Turf Moor meeting. Everton, at the time, were pushing for that seventh position and a place in the Europa League. They were eight and above Wolves at the time. They stayed eighth, but they picked up less points than us in the second half of last season and are currently struggling towards the bottom of the league after yesterday, their fourth successive defeat.

Everton at home has, it seems, always been a tough fixture for us and I was a little bit nervous as I made my way down to the Turf early yesterday to get my most recent library addition, the Dave Thomas (ex-footballer) book signed by the author. In fact, I think it might be the only book that’s been added to my, hardly extensive, library this year.

Our pre-match schedule had to be altered at the eleventh hour and, for a superstitious football fan, that’s not always the best thing. Our switch was not over impressive so it won’t be repeated.

By the time I was walking back past the ground, the Clarets for Foodbanks collection was in full swing. It’s brilliant to see some of the Supporters’ Clubs embracing it and what a response from the Everton lads too, just as we’d seen from their neighbours across Stanley Park a few weeks ago. Football wise, things might not be just as good on their side of the park but their enthusiasm to help us was simply superb.

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We’d already received the much awaited team news. We knew it wasn’t going to be same again with Jack Cork’s injury and Sean Dyche simply moved Jeff Hendrick alongside Ashley Westwood in the centre of the midfield which signalled a return for Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson on the right hand side.

There isn’t too much to write about from a goalless first half. The closest we came to a goal really was when Hendrick got onto a ball at the far post following a left wing corner that forced Jordan Pickford into some very quick action. At the other end, Alex Iwobi saw one shot deflected wide and then had another blocked by Matt Lowton while I held my breath thinking we might go behind.

The significant moment in the half came two minutes before the break in an incident in front of the Bob Lord side that saw Erik Pieters go down after a challenge from Séamus Coleman. Referee Graham Scott, of whom I’ll say nothing, showed him a yellow card but in all fairness Coleman’s reaction was nothing other than concern for Pieters. Should it have been a yellow card? I think it should have been a straight red. There might not have been any intent, I’m absolutely certain there wasn’t, but I’m surprised that he didn’t go, more so with VAR also taking a look at it.

So, after a 0-0 scoreline, the two full backs were able to resume for the second half although neither of them were to stay very long. It was clear that Pieters, who had received lengthy treatment after the incident, was struggling and he was replaced by Charlie Taylor just ten minutes in, Taylor making his 50th Premier League appearance.

There was no reprieve for Coleman. Within a minute of Taylor’s arrival, he clashed in the air with Dwight McNeil and got a second yellow. Now, for what it’s worth, I think it’s harsh, but given he probably should have gone in the first incident it sort of balanced out.

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As often happens, the team reduced to ten men can then look the better side and Everton did for a short time before Burnley got to grips with things and began to get on top. It paid dividends with eighteen minutes to go.

Taylor, who I thought was outstanding when he came on, more so when you realise it was his first Premier League action this season, won a corner on the left. Ashley Westwood, who played as well as I’ve seen him in this game, took the flag kick on the left. It was almost a repeat of the one in the first half that reached Hendrick. This one reached the same player who volleyed home brilliantly as he came round the back beyond the far post.

There was a delayed reaction from some of the crowd. From my vantage point in the Longside Upper I thought it had hit the side netting and it was only when Hendrick charged towards the Jimmy Mac fans to celebrate that I realised it had gone in. Then referee Scott put his finger to his ear so we had to wait again, but there was no reason to rule it out. We’d got in front and it was a lead we weren’t to lose.

Everton offered no real threat to be honest and there were a couple of occasions when we could have doubled the lead. One, following a good run down the left from McNeil, eventually led to a Jay Rodriguez shot which Pickford saved but long before the final whistle this game was really over and, in the end, it was a comfortable 1-0 win.

Marco Silva had a rant at Scott at the end. He moaned after the final whistle but at least he didn’t start talking about us wasting time and playing too many long balls as the disrespectful Dean Smith had done a week earlier.

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While not being the best of performances, there were some really good individual performances. The two central defenders were again outstanding. Are you watching Gareth Southgate? Likewise, the two in central midfield and I also thought McNeil had his best game of the season, it was one of those afternoon’s when he appeared to just get better and better but even in the first half he was a major reason that the Coleman runs, which can be so effective for Everton, were curbed.

So, the run of four games between the international breaks is done and dusted with two home wins and two away draws. We looked at the fixtures and knew they weren’t as tough as they might have been but they are still against some very good sides. Apart from the second half performance at Brighton it’s been a good run and now we have to put up with another break watching England with poorer defenders than ours.

I don’t know where we will be in the table come the end of today but it’s been a good start to the season and, as I mentioned in my preview, we have as many points now as we did last season after Everton’s visit. It’s a good start, no more than that, but it’s a platform to go on and hopefully have another good season.

Last night I recalled beating Everton back in 2009 with a Wade Elliott goal in a Chris McCann inspired performance. We’d just beaten Manchester United and I was pinching myself at us beating teams like that. Yesterday was our fourth home win against Everton in the Premier League. These games are still never easy, nothing like, but it makes you realise that we are very much at home in this league now.

It will be a tough game next time out at Leicester. They have started really well and came very close yesterday to becoming the first team to take points from Liverpool this season, but we are a good team too.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Erik Pieters (Charlie Taylor 55), Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Aaron Lennon 84), Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes (Jay Rodriguez 73), Chris Wood. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Kevin Long, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.
Yellow Cards: Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood.

Everton: Jordan Pickford, Séamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Morgan Schneiderlin (André Gomes 84), Fabian Delph, Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson (Djibril Sidibé 59), Alex Iwobi, Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Moise Kean 74), Subs not used: Jonas Lössl, Mason Holgate, Bernard, Tom Davies.
Yellow Cards: Séamus Coleman, Djibril Sidibé.
Red Card: Séamus Coleman.

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).

Attendance: 20,650.

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