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A draw at West Ham, followed by three successive wins had given Burnley fans real hope of avoiding the drop into the Championship, but the run came to an end yesterday when Aston Villa took all three points at the Turf with a 3-1 win against us.

Goals from Danny Ings, somewhat predictably, Emiliano Buendía and Ollie Watkins had given them a 3-0 lead not too long into the second half and there weren’t too many home fans left inside the ground by the time substitute Maxwel Cornet reduced the arrears in stoppage time with a typical Cornet finish.

It brought to an end a week of almost euphoria after we’d come back to win at Watford, a club who joined Norwich yesterday in suffering relegation. “Staying up, staying up, staying up,” was the cry from the Burnley fans at the final whistle at Vicarage Road. It’s understandable, that’s what football fans do, but during the week it was played on to what I thought was an embarrassing level by our club’s social media, very much so when we had four very important, and season defining, games to come.

I wasn’t over nervous yesterday although I did think playing Villa, even with their Turf Moor record, wasn’t going to be quite so easy as some would have you believe. It might be that they’ve not been pulling up many trees recently but they do have some very good players.

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One of our problems now is running out of players. We know all of Ben Mee, Ashley Westwood and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson are all ruled out. We thought Jay Rodriguez, who pulled out shortly before kick off at Watford, would be out but it was a shock to see no Matěj Vydra in the squad with suggestions that he’s suffered a serious knee injury.

With Cornet himself returning from injury, I’m not sure what else Michael Jackson could have done yesterday with the players he had available to him. The team only showed one change from that which won at Watford with Ashley Barnes, who was such an influence in that game, replacing Vydra. Cornet was back on the bench alongside a goalkeeper, five defenders, Dale Stephens and youngster Dara Costelloe.

Villa had left out Philippe Coutinho. Last time I saw him at the Turf he was blasting shots high and wide for Liverpool. He’s a damn good player though but his replacement was Buendía who had a big influence on the game.

If we needed a good start, we didn’t get it. Buendía put Ings through on goal in only the seventh minute. The former Claret had already had one opportunity but he wasn’t passing this up and comfortably stroked the ball into the bottom corner to give Villa the lead.

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We responded. Wout Weghorst saw a first time shot go wide of goal. It was a good effort from the Dutchman but he should have done better with his next opportunity but he headed Dwight McNeil’s cross wide of goal.

We paid for that with Villa doubling their lead just past the half hour but this one was a little unfortunate. We might have done better to prevent the move that led to Lucas Digne crossing the ball but Buendía’s shot took a deflection off James Tarkowski when it looked as though Nick Pope would save it.

At that point, I didn’t really think we deserved to be two goals behind and thought if we could pull one back before half time, it could have given us a good chance of getting something in the second half. We could and should have got that goal back as half time was approaching.

The move started with Weghorst getting the ball on the right wing and getting brought down by Ezri Konsa only for the assistant referee, who was right there, to give nothing, a decision backed up by David Coote, one of the most inept of referees we’ve seen all season.

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The ball run loose and McNeil got in between Konsa and Tyrone Mings to take the ball. He got into the box but then wasted the opportunity with a weak effort straight at Emiliano Martínez. It’s almost unfair to criticise Dwight, he was, in my view, our best player on the day but he should have done much better with this chance.

It meant a two goal deficit at half time and if someone could have come up with worst case scenario at the start of the second half, I don’t think they could have been as cruel as to see us lose our captain and concede a third goal.

Within thirty seconds of the restart, Tarkowski sat down and it was clear immediately that those on the touchline with Kevin Long immediately getting ready to come on. We’ve since learned it is a hamstring injury but Tarkowski could play no further part and went off by the half way line only to immediately make his way back to the dressing room.

Just a few minutes later and the game was over. Buendía was again involved, getting the ball out to the left. It led to John McGinn crossing for a totally unmarked Watkins to dive in and head home goal number three.

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Three was almost four soon after but Pope was equal to a shot from Matty Cash and there were serious concerns at this stage that it could be a crushing defeat. By this time we looked a beaten side and so it proved.

Thankfully, Villa didn’t add to their three goal lead and we even pulled one back in stoppage time. McGinn crossed into the box but Pope came to collect and threw out the ball immediately to Erik Pieters who had come on as a substitute for Barnes. Pieters played a delightful through ball for Cornet, and he’d replaced the ineffective Lennon who has struggled on the left in recent games. Cornet took the ball past the goalkeeper and then finished in Cornet style. Expecting him to roll the ball into the unguarded net, he instead opted to hammer it into the top corner.

Six years ago yesterday, I was at the Valley celebrating winning the Championship title and looking forward to a third Premier League season. Six years later, we are still in there and still fighting. Every win will give us a boost while every defeat will, rightly, be considered a setback.

Defeats at Leeds and much more recently at Norwich were the two occasions when I thought our time was running out in this league. It still might be but we have given ourselves a chance recently and we still have three games, albeit difficult games, to try and get the points we might need.

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We are all a bit down on our hopes today following this defeat. Maybe everyone just got too excited with last week’s win but we are still in there fighting. We were, in the end, beaten quite simplyn by a better team yesterday, Now, a first league win at Spurs since 1974 next week would certainly be a big help, but we can’t afford to gift goals as we did yesterday and we will have to take our chances when they come.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Connor Roberts, Nathan Collins, James Tarkowski (Kevin Long 47), Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill, Jack Cork, Aaron Lennon (Maxwel Cornet 66), Wout Weghorst, Ashley Barnes (Erik Pieters 72). Subs not used: Wayne Hennessey, Matt Lowton, Phil Bardsley, Bobby Thomas, Dale Stephens, Dara Costelloe.
Yellow Card: Josh Brownhill.

Aston Villa: Emiliano Martínez, Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Lucas Digne, Calum Chambers (Carney Chukwuemeka 68), John McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Emiliano Buendía (Philippe Coutinho 79), Danny Ings (Ashley Young 74), Ollie Watkins. Subs not used: Robin Olsen, Bertrand Traoré, Josh Feeney, Tim Iroegbunam, Marvelous Nakamba, Morgan Sanson.
Yellow Cards: Lucas Digne, Ollie Watkins.

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).

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