Clinical finishing the difference at Turf Moor

andre gray

Andre Gray – www.bbc.co.uk

Burnley kept their automatic promotion hopes very much intact with a 4-1 win over fellow challengers Derby at Turf Moor. Richard Keogh’s own goal gave them the lead, moments before Jacob Butterfield responded with a wonderful volley. Derby had been the more prominent side for much of the game but two second half penalties swung it in Burnley’s favour, before Scott Arfield added a fourth.

The early stages gave no indication that this would end in a heavy defeat for Derby, who started on the front foot with Tom Ince looking lively early on. The East Midlanders looked to control the game in Burnley’s half as Chris Martin got his shot away inside two minutes, though he was denied by Tom Heaton.

The hosts were too slow to close down and did not press with enough intensity. Their football in the opening 25 minutes consisted of hopeful, high balls forward to Andre Gray, who had an aerial disadvantage against Derby’s centre-backs.

Sean Dyche knew his side had to diversify their approach play and they started to get on top with some good play down the right. Boyd’s cross was headed out by Stephen Warnock and Scott Arfield’s first time volley flew well over the bar. Moments later, however, the Clarets did get their goal when right-back Matthew Lowton swung in a cross from deep and, under pressure, Richard Keogh inadvertently headed the ball past Scott Carson.

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Jacob Butterfield – www.bbc.co.uk

That was an embarrassing moment for Keogh, but his blushes were spared a minute later. Burnley fans were still celebrating when the ball flew in from the left towards Jacob Butterfield, who volleyed it into the right-hand corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance. Butterfield had been omitted from the team for last week’s 3-0 defeat to Birmingham, but some fans regard him to be their best player and his goal capped off an impressive first half from the midfielder.

The two goals gave the game the lift it needed. Both sides began to move the ball with more purpose as Andre Gray shot wide after Joey Barton’s lobbed pass. A minute later, Nick Blackman went close for Derby, but a deflection took the ball over the bar. Arfield was Burnley’s best player in the first half and some neat play from the former Huddersfield man allowed Sam Vokes to turn in a dangerous area, but his firm shot was hit straight at Carson.

Burnley had not quite been at their most fluent in the opening period and started the second half slowly. Ben Mee came under pressure when Tom Ince was running at him on a Derby breakaway, but Mee held his ground and the chance fizzled out. Derby countered down the right again, this time through Nick Blackman, but so many players had been defending the initial Burnley corner that there were few options for the forward.

Derby should have gone in front but they were not clinical enough and would be punished for poor shooting on 54 minutes. Richard Keogh was enduring a testing evening and the long-serving centre-back fouled Andre Gray in the box, the striker converting the resultant penalty with confidence to put Burnley in front.

Keogh’s defensive partner was Jason Shackell, who had received some stick from the home fans due to the manner in which he left Burnley this summer. The centre-back had not put a foot wrong all game, but unfortunately for him, he did put a hand wrong – the defender’s handball led to a second Burnley penalty four minutes after the first. Gray handed the duty to Sam Vokes, but the outcome was the same, the ball nestling in the middle of the net.

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Scott Arfield – www.dailystar.co.uk

With a two goal lead, Burnley looked to slow the tempo of the game down and stifle Derby’s momentum, which they did to some success. Scott Arfield made the game safe with a powerful shot that looped off Shackell, over Carson and into the net. Shackell’s two errors provoked more stick from a section of ardent Clarets fans, who would enjoy their evening.

Derby did not crumble, even when the game was up, and continued to probe Burnley’s rearguard. Abdoul Camera came on for Bradley Johnson and the left winger showed a willingness to take players on, putting a couple of decent balls into the box. However, Derby did not commit enough men forward, meaning it was hard for them to create clear cut chances against a stubborn Burnley defence. Tom Ince came closest to testing Heaton, dragging his shot wide from the right hand side.

Boyd ran inside and laid the ball off for Gray, whose sweet shot was pushed wide by Carson. The former Leeds goalkeeper had to make another routine save when some nice combination play between Vokes and Gray led to a low strike from David Jones.

Jones and =Barton did a good job of protecting Burnley’s defence. The latter’s commitment to the cause was typified in the dying seconds of the game, when he persistently harried Stephen Warnock to win the ball, with the match a foregone conclusion.

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Paul Clement – www.bbc.co.uk

Despite a heavy defeat that will undoubtedly knock Derby’s morale, there is scope to believe that they can still finish in the top two. Paul Clement’s side controlled the game for long spells, they scored a terrific goal through Butterfield and created some good chances which could have gone in with better finishing. This was the team’s last game against top eight opposition until April 5th, meaning there will still be opportunities for Derby to build momentum.

Victory moves Burnley up to third, with momentum on their side. Sean Dyche’s men are best known for being hardworking and well-organized, but they now have a cutting edge with 16 goals in their last five games, more than any side in England’s top four leagues. The £9 million they paid for Andre Gray seemed like an inflated fee in August, but it now looks a good deal, as the tirelessly energetic forward took his goal tally to 17 on Monday night. This win serves as a stronger statement of intent than any other this season, because it came against a fellow promotion contender. Prior to Monday night, the Clarets had only won one game against top half opposition since September. Hull and Middlesbrough fans need still be wary – neither of these teams are out of the running just yet.