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BURNLEY MATCH VERDICT: Happy Clarets can celebrate
THE final whistle had long since gone but 4,500 jubilant Burnley fans remained in the away end. Sean Dyche re-emerged from the tunnel, turned to them and pointed.
This one was for them.
“Ginger Mourinho!” they chanted, at the tops of their voices.
His name is now etched forever in Turf Moor folklore as the man who ended 35 years of derby hurt, after three near misses under his watch.
Goals from Jason Shackell – the captain’s second at Ewood Park in two seasons – and top scorer Danny Ings had got Burnley over the line for the first time in a long time.
Dyche’s double substitution with just over 20 minutes to go conspired to turn the game on its head, and two goals in six minutes followed.
But the Clarets boss gave all the credit to his players, the fans and the board – all seven of them, including the recently returned Brendan Flood, die-hard Clarets.
“I’m delighted for the supporters,” said Dyche.
“People like me will come and go at clubs over time, but things like that stay forever, and that’s a great moment – especially with the manner we turned it round from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1.
“That was certainly for the fans, for the people of Burnley, to put a smile on their face. And I must say it’s for the board as well because they’re all Burnley fans.”
Co-chairman John Banaszkiewicz showed his true colours among the Burnley throngs in the Darwen End.
He went wild among them, first when Shackell equalised with a brave header – cancelling out Jordan Rhodes’ first-half opener into the same net, then wilder still when Ings scored the winner.
His 25th of the season is already the most significant goal in the eyes of Clarets’ fans.
But in terms of the season as a whole, and the ultimate outcome, it could take on even greater importance.
For the result not only got one over the ‘auld enemy’ at the 12th attempt, it means Burnley are eight points clear of the play-off places in second.
Birmingham are next up, on Wednesday night.
But Dyche will allow time for his players to enjoy this moment before they get back to business. And why not?
Burnley fans might have feared the worst after Rhodes gave first blood to Blackburn.
In the pre-match press interviews Dyche had put the emphasis on Rovers, saying the pressure was on them, not least as the home team.
But it was Burnley who seemed to suffer from stage fright in the first half.
Had an early conversion for Sam Vokes – a derby goal hero in last season’s meeting at Turf Moor – not been ruled out for a marginal offside, upon getting on the end of Scott Arfield’s cross-shot, then it might have been a different story.
Arfield later saw a looping header drop onto the roof of the net, while Ings snatched at a chance that a persistent Michael Kightly helped to create.
On the back of a humiliation in their previous weekend’s lesser derby – a 4-0 hiding at Bolton – going behind here might have been too much to bear.
But the Clarets, who have been so resolute all season, were punished for a moment of hesitation midway through the half.
Shackell had the chance to close down Rhodes when he received the ball from Jason Lowe in the box. But when the Clarets captain stalled, almost inviting the shot, Rhodes defied a nine-game drought by firing clinically into the bottom left corner.
Rovers looked comfortable on their lead until Ings latched onto a mistake by Craig Conway – a casual back pass – and found himself in a one-on-one with Paul Robinson.
Most would have backed Burnley’s top scorer in the form he’s in this season – even against an England international – but Ings fired straight at Robinson, and turned the rebound wide of the near left post.
It needed Ben Mee’s clearance off the line to stop loan signing Luke Varney marking his home debut with a goal just before the break.
Burnley had big appeals for a penalty turned down early in the second half, when Ings went down under Grant Hanley’s challenge. After such a tight offside decision went against them it just didn’t look like being their day.
But there was a bigger turning point to come, and it fell in their favour in the 55th minute.
A rare mistake by Jones led to David Dunn, who had seemingly saved himself for this derby appearance after a two-week absence, feeding Rhodes.
He looked certain to double his and Rovers’ tally, but the ball came back off the base of the post.
Dyche said he turned to his first team coach, Tony Loughlan, and said: “That’s it. That’s the moment we’ve been waiting for.”
It gave Burnley extra impetus, while a double substitution provided fresh legs and fervour as Ross Wallace and Ashley Barnes replaced Kightly and Vokes. Both played a key role in the win, while Rovers missed the influence of their ‘Mr Blackburn’ after a tiring Dunn went off.
Wallace delivered a free kick into the six-yard box, where a climbing Barnes was a distraction to Robinson, who was beaten to the ball by Shackell, with the captain planting a firm header into an empty net.
Second half syndrome struck positively again for Burnley as the lead was grabbed with just over 10 minutes to go.
Arfield’s left wing cross skimmed the head of debutant Michael Keane, dropped for Wallace at the far post and his shot came back to him off Tommy Spurr.
The winger reacted quickly to poke the ball towards Barnes, who touched it on to Ings to strike in front of the hoards of Clarets fans.
His 20th Championship goal could not have come at a better time, or place, for them.
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