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Michael Jackson took charge of the Clarets for the first time at Turf Moor last night and saw his team turn in an outstanding performance to beat Southampton 2-0 and keep the hopes of avoiding relegation alive.

The two goals came in a first half from defenders Connor Roberts and Nathan Collins after a breath taking 45 minutes and, while never really hitting the same heights in the second half, we ended the game as comfortable winners in front of a small but noisy Turf Moor crowd.

This was an experience some young Burnley fans have never known, turning up for a game at the Turf without Sean Dyche there. With fans still trying to make sense of it, the Royal Dyche, are fining people who ask if the name of the pub is to be changed, requesting a £1 donation to Pendleside Hospice. Breaking with my traditional pre-match, I called in, didn’t ask the question but made a donation.

After a short walk up to the Turf (the ground and not the pub next door to the Royal Dyche), I met with friends and discussed the West Ham game again before moving on to the forthcoming game.

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We awaited the team news which showed Jackson had made two changes to the one that drew at the London Stadium. We knew Ashley Westwood wouldn’t be involved having had surgery on that dreadful ankle injury yesterday; his replacement, as expected, was Josh Brownhill. The other change saw Roberts preferred to Matt Lowton. It left a space on the bench which went to 19-year-old Irishman Dara Costelloe.

As four Southampton, Ralph Hasenhüttl named the team that had beaten Arsenal at the weekend and that team gave us a worrying start. They might have had a couple of goals in the opening few minutes as they took the game to us, and they very definitely should have had one when, thankfully, Oriol Romeu headed wide with a really good opportunity.

It looked in those opening exchanges as if it was just a matter of time before they scored the opening goal, but when that opening goal did come, it was at the cricket field end to give us the lead.

From the left, we got the ball across to Dwight McNeil on the right. He came inside and tried a shot from outside the box which was blocked. He got it back and it eventually found Josh Brownhill who played it inside for Roberts. The Welsh international curled a beauty of a left foot shot into the corner leaving goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who was to enjoy an excellent first half helpless.

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They say goals change games and this one turned it on its head. Within no time we’d had two more opportunities. Wout Weghorst took one touch too many to go past the defender allowing Forster to block his shot and then the goalkeeper made an excellent save to deny Jay Rodriguez.

I felt we just needed another goal and it should have come after Forster pulled off an even better save to deny Rodriguez. This time the ball went up in the air for Collins to head on to Weghorst who somehow hit the post with his header when a goal looked certain.

Southampton had no answer to us and as half time approached it was amazing that we still only led by one goal. Then, Maxwel Cornet got down the left and won a corner as we got within a couple of minutes of half time and Collins met Brownhill’s corner with a header into the corner. We then had the first of three VAR delays as they tried to determine whether Jack Cork had touched the ball from an offside position. He hadn’t, we were 2-0 up and for just the second time since December 2020, we held a two goal lead at home.

It was soon half time and there was no dawdling; the players ran off the pitch and up the tunnel to an ovation from the crowd.

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The second half could have got off to a sensational start with James Tarkowski heading over in the first minute and while it was never quite the same as the first half, we still looked good. There weren’t to be any more efforts on target but we remained a threat and if VAR was of help in the first half, it wasn’t in this second half.

We had the ball in the net when Forster saved from Tarkowski and parried it onto Rodriguez. Unfortunately, the ball went in off Cork who was just offside. The goal was initially given but was chalked out after long deliberations from John Brooks at Stockley Park.

Brooks was involved again when we went up for a penalty after an alleged James Ward-Prowse handball. I have to say, I’d probably have been disappointed had it been given against us but I’ve seen them given many times. I can’t imagine for one minute that one of the big clubs wouldn’t have got that.

At the other end, there was concern when they won a free kick in Ward-Prowse territory but Nick Pope dealt with it easily enough, but the Clarets’ goalkeeper had to be at his best to tip over a Ché Adams volley and we were thankful to for Charlie Taylor’s super block when they got another chance. But we came close when Jay Rod was played in on the right of the box only for his ball across to go behind Collins as he looked for a second goal for himself.

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At no point did I ever think there were any alarm bells ringing for us in that second half although it might have been a tough end had that Adams effort gone in. But we had it won and that gave the home fans the opportunity to pay tribute to our recently departed manager.

I think it all started in the cricket field end on 88 minutes with the chant of “There’s only one Sean Dyche” which was followed by “23, 23 undefeated, ……., playing football the Sean Dyche way”. The applause for Dyche rang out on all four sides of Turf Moor and rightly so. It was fitting and touching and now allows us to move on.

What a lovely end that was to a terrific game and a terrific Burnley performance which has taken us back within a point of Everton but now having played one game more.

It sent us all home looking at both of our remaining fixtures, but that will count for nothing if we can’t get the results ourselves, starting with Wolves this Sunday. We can only do what we can do; we can only look after ourselves and just hope it’s going to be enough.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil (Matt Lowton 87), Josh Brownhill, Jack Cork, Maxwel Cornet (Aaron Lennon 66), Wout Weghorst (Matěj Vydra 78), Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Dale Stephens, Dara Costelloe, Ashley Barnes.
Yellow Cards: Jack Cork, James Tarkowski.

Southampton: Fraser Forster, Yan Valery, Lyanco, Jan Bednarek, Oriol Romeu, Kyle Walker-Peters (Tino Livramento 83), James Ward-Prowse, Stuart Armstrong (Ché Adams 66), Romain Perraud, Mohamed Elyounoussi (Nathan Redmond 65), Armando Broja. Subs not used: Willy Caballero, Mohamed Salisu, Nathan Tella, Ibrahima Diallo, Adam Armstrong, Shane Long.
Yellow Cards: Jan Bednarek, Romain Perraud.

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton).

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