SEAN Dyche defended Joey Barton and praised his desire to make an impact in Burnley’s FA Cup defeat to Lincoln City.

Barton was involved in several clashes with members of the opposition, beginning in the early stages when he was clattered by the elbow of Imps striker Matt Rhead.


The forward avoided punishment for that challenge and that sparked a series of niggles between the pair which culminated in a second half clash when Barton went down after hitting the top of his head on Rhead’s arm after standing on his foot.

The midfield was then booked for a clash with Lincoln winger Terry Hawkridge, but Dyche was pleased with the 34-year-old’s performance.

“He was terrific, he kept us going, kept us right, plays with that energy and desire,” he said. “There were a few lacking that edge I talk about.”

Rhead was full of praise after the game for Barton’s ability and said he had relished the battle with the former England midfielder.

“He’s a great player isn’t he, he’s been about and I think we were getting on top a bit and he was trying to upset the flow which is what he’s about,” he said.

“I love that (doing battle), that’s part of my game, as soon as we knew we’d got them into that style of football we knew we had a great opportunity to get a result.”

On his clash with Barton as the pair came together before a Lincoln throw, Rhead added: “That’s part and parcel of the game, you get that every week, that’s not an issue. He was just backing in and stood on my foot.

“We try and gain any advantage we can. We’re a big side and set-pieces are a massive part of our game.

“I think he was trying to get in front of me to stop me winning headers but it was always going to be a battle. It’s part and parcel of football. I knew if we could get a few players wound up then that’s part of our game.”

Burnley had gone into the game as strong favourites to progress to their first FA Cup quarter-final in 14 years, and Dyche admitted that had presented a different challenge for his side, who have spent virtually all of this season as underdogs in the Premier League.

“Part of our growth is this is the first time in a long, long, time that we’ve been favourites, big favourites,” the Clarets chief said.

“It’s a different mindset. Virtually every week we are underdogs, and I didn’t think we dealt as well with that once the whistle blew. In the week, fine, build up, habits, everything good. But the madness of football is we take a chance early, and it changes everything.

“We didn’t, and one of my mad laws of football is the law of one more chance, and they had one, and took it.”

Imps boss Danny Cowley said dealing with the favourites tag was something he thought Burnley might have an issue with.

“We’ve been at Concorde and Braintree and at those clubs you’re the underdog and you’re used to it,” he said.

“At those clubs when we were expected to win we found it really difficult, so we felt they would experience the same thing.

“We knew it would knock them off method because they’re so used to having to defend for large periods.”