IT isn’t just ‘goals for’ that Charlie Austin is influencing for Burnley.
Goalkeeper Lee Grant has revealed how the 20-goal top scorer helped avoid a goal against last weekend.
Grant hadn’t saved a penalty for around four years when he faced Charlton Athletic captain Johnnie Jackson, following Kieran Trippier’s controversial dismissal for a disputed handball offence on the line.
But the former Sheffield Wednesday stopper’s barren run came to an end the day after denying Austin from 12 yards in training.
“People think keepers aren’t really too fussed because it’s almost a no-lose situation for a goalkeeper.
“But I haven’t saved one for ages and it was really annoying me,” Grant explained.
“I’ve put a bit of work in with Charlie over the last few weeks and I saved one of his on Friday, which I hadn’t done in a long time, and it was to my right so I thought I would go to the right again and see what happens.
“I decided about three or four years ago that I was going to dive right for every penalty because I was having no luck, but that wasn’t working either so I started putting a bit more work on it, being a bit more educated trying to read the play and looking at different methods and put some work in with Jason Tindall as well before he left the club.
“He was one of the first people to text me after the game.
“There are different things you look at – body shape, run-up, state of the game, the particular player you’re looking at. There are few things you have to look at, and I had plenty of time with the situation with the sending off.
“Things managed to go my way, but that doesn’t mean the next one’s going to. All you can do is work on it.”
But while Grant was delighted that his penalty practice paid off, he was disappointed the result went against them in the end.
Burnley battled well with 10 men only to be undone by a breakaway goal, a week after a refereeing decision influenced the outcome at Portman Road, where Grant was impeded for Ipswich’s late winner, but no foul was given.
Being on the wrong end of those big decisions means the Clarets go to Hull City this afternoon looking to recover from back-to-back defeats. But Grant stressed that the last two results don’t offer a fair reflection on the performances.
“While not everything will be evident from the outside, especially when you see the last couple of results haven’t gone our way, certainly from a defensive point of view there was plenty to be taken away from both of those performances,” he said.
“Before that obviously we had the two clean sheets after the manager came in.”
A fixture involving Burnley was a neutral’s delight earlier in the season, with goals virtually guaranteed at both ends.
But they have tightened up at the Turf over the last month or so, and Grant sees no reason why that form can’t be transferred on their travels.
He is certainly feeling more reassured by their more resolute look.
“We can take heart from some of the clean sheets we’ve kept at home of late,” he said.
“There have been some backs to the wall moments but we’ve handled those situations really well.
“It’s not the case where we could be 1-0 up with five minutes to go and everyone in the stadium is kind of expecting us to lose the game 2-1. That doesn’t seem to be the feeling around the place now, from the back five, or from the rest of the lads in the side because they’re very important to the way we’re trying to defend as a team as well.
“There has been plenty of work and for me it’s been nice because I think we look a much more difficult side to beat.
“We are improving and as the last line I certainly feel more confident and settled and the organisation seems to be coming together quite nicely.
“There’s still plenty to work on in that respect, but things are moving in the right direction.”