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Burnley fell to another away defeat, this time losing 2-0 at Stoke, and it left home boss Mark Hughes delighted as his side stretched their recent run to just one defeat in nine games and saw them move into the top half of the table for the first time this season.

“We are playing with plenty of confidence at the moment and you could see that today, especially during the first half,” he said. “Some of the football we played at times was very good and it enabled us to effectively take the game away from Burnley before the break.

“In the second half it was a different game because they were pumping balls forward at every opportunity, looking to exploit the fact that we haven’t got too many big lads at the back, but once again we stood up to the challenge, cleared our lines well and then looked a real threat when we were moving up the pitch.

“In many ways it was similar to the game at Watford last weekend, we performed superbly well in the first half and then the second half was more about game management and making sure we defended well as a group, which we did.

“We get a lot of pleasure from doing that because it shows all the elements and characteristics of a really strong minded group of players, which is what I have here.

“We see ourselves as a top ten club so we have to maintain these levels now and try to build on the fact that we have suffered just one defeat in nine.”

Despite the defeat, Sean Dyche, after making a number of changes, was happier with the performance. “It was two soft goals, but other than that I thought it was a good performance,” he said.

“We took the game on, which we wanted to do, and looked more like ourselves. We know we have to change our away form. That’s an important part of the Premier League, and even though that’s difficult there were clear signs today that was a team that went to win a game.

“We haven’t shown that much away from home, but we did today and I thought the mentality was clear and some of the football was good. To come to Stoke and dominate a lot of the second half is very pleasing.”

Speaking about referee Mark Clattenburg, who seemed to be over lenient with much of the Stoke play acting and certainly with the showing of one yellow card, Dyche said: “I was surprised by a lot of decisions today. Mark is a great referee, but I thought today he was off his mark.

“In the first half we could have had a penalty when Muniesa sticks an arm at an unnatural position from a free kick. The same player then drags Andre down and I don’t know where that lives. In the initial contact Andre is through and clear, but by the time he has let it play and play and play, a defender gets around him.

“We need a little rub of the green, but we looked to take care of business our own way today and not worry about relying on other things not going our way, so it was a lot stronger performance from us.

“The changes worked to a degree. It didn’t get us a win, but we have to start with performances because away we haven’t found our travelling legs. That said, the Premier League is tough and if you look at the money they have spent here and some of the players they’ve got, they are a strong side and we took the challenge on today.

“We just have to keep believing we will get our rewards if we keep performing like that.”

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