NEVER mind the quality - feel the relief!

Eighteenth place, eight games, six weeks - however you crunched the numbers, you didn't need to be a mathematician to calculate the Clarets were in dire need of three points.

But the feel-good factor has suddenly been multiplied several times over in Burnley after Stan Ternent's men finally drew a line under their recent run of poor results.

There were countless pluses and few minuses on a night when all Burnley's numbers came up in true jackpot style. But none more so than the three goals that ended a barren spell of results stretching back to early October.

Almost ever since that 3-1 win over Walsall it's been a case of bad defending and bad luck. But finally, fortune favoured the braves in claret and blue - not once, but twice.

Robbie Blake had been fed up with waiting for a fortuitous moment to end his barren run of nine games without a goal, and conjured up his own bit of magic against Rotherham at the weekend.

Against high-flying Reading, he was left mystified at the final whistle as fans tried to work out whether he had conjured up two assists, scored one goal or added two strikes to his tally.

The truth surely lies somewhere between after his fifth minute 'cross' whistled just beyond Ian Moore's fringe and nestled beautifully in the bottom left hand corner of the Royals net to set the ball rolling.

But he may have a fight on his hands to claim the Clarets third - a humdinger of a free kick from 25 yards that cannoned off Luke Chadwick's boot and totally wrong-footed Marcus Hahnemann in the Reading goal.

Sandwiched in between came a goal for the purists - a sweet-as-you-like finish from Richard Chaplow, the teenage talent fast becoming the new darling of Turf Moor.

It all added up to a simply sensational result against a side that rolled up at Turf Moor having conceded just one goal in their last five games.

And with Sunderland next up at the magnificent, space-age Stadium of Light, what better time to provide everyone with a real fillip.

All over the field there were Burnley heroes, with Brian Jensen performing early heroics in goal and Arthur Gnohere and David May giants at the back.

Young Chaplow again had his manager drooling, while Blake, in this form, could make up his own goals target and stand a realistic chance of turning it into a reality.

But what mattered most against Steve Coppell's side was a unity; a collective gnashing of teeth and a 'they-shall-not-pass' attitude that has been sadly missing in recent performances.

What the die-hard fans that walked up for Burnley got was that, and much, much more. It wasn't all plain sailing and, for the lion's share of the first half, Burnley hung in there grimly as Reading ran riot in midfield.

Blake was to blame for that with his in-swinging fifth minute cross from the left that left Hahnemann grasping at thin air to give the Clarets a platform.

For a while, we then feared the worst as wave after wave of attacks threatened a deserved equaliser. Gnohere averted the first moment of danger with a cool back-heel away from trouble after Nicky Forster, who gave Dean West a torrid opening half hour, broke free down the left.

Twenty minutes in May formed the barrier after Forster again lurked with intent, but it took a remarkable save from Jensen to keep the lead intact soon after.

Steve Sidwell got away with a quick free kick from the wrong place that caught out Mo Camara and sent Forster racing clear with John Salako.

The former drew the keeper and slid the ball to the latter, who held his head in his hands as Jensen somehow recovered his ground to clawed the weak effort round the post.

If that was sublime, what followed was ridiculous as Jensen played a game of dare with Forster on the edge of his box. The Dane waited for the ball to creep inside the area but was beaten to it by the Reading hitman who homed in on goal from a tight angle.

However, in pantomime season he failed to see Jensen creep up behind him and dive on the ball to finally avert the danger he created in the first place.

Nicky Shorey was next up with a wonderful free kick that just turned too late and embedded itself in Jensen's side netting with the keeper a relieved man.

But gradually, the threat subsided and Gnohere came close to doubling Burnley's lead with a flashing header from Blake's outswinging corner.

Glen Little should have done even better with his own header just 25 seconds into the second half - what a collectors item that would have been!

But within two minutes, all was forgiven as Chaplow gave the Clarets a cushion. Ian Moore's alertness caused Hahnemann to race from his goal and half clear the ball to the edge of the 'D', where the shaven-headed midfielder pounced to lift a sublime first time effort into the vacant goal through a ruck of bodies.

Sidwell threatened an instant response with a stinging volley from fully 25 yards that thumped Jensen's right hand post with the keeper well beaten.

But on 54 minutes, it was game, set and match to Burnley. Ivar Ingimarsson climbed all over Blake, who smacked a resulting free kick past Reading's obligatory wall that struck Chadwick, left Hahnemann flat-footed and rippled the net.

Coppell knew his number was up, and made a triple substitution in a last, desperate attempt to snatch some pride. But Burnley refused to buckle and the remaining task of chalking up a first clean sheet in 13 games was achieved with minimal effort.

All in all, a fine way to celebrate Ternent's 250th league game in charge of the Clarets.

Another number to be proud of!


Blake 5, Chaplow 47, Chadwick 54


AT Turf Moor Att: 11,145