IT was perhaps too soon for pupil to get the upper hand over teacher, but Eddie Howe’s first defeat as Burnley boss was more by accident than Doncaster’s design in the end.

Schooled by Sean O’Driscoll, his former coach and mentor at Bournemouth, Howe was keen to show what he had learned from this tactical master as he went head to head with him for the first time in management.

The first half was akin to game of chess, watching each other’s moves closely and reacting accordingly, even replicating formations.

Little wonder it was goalless at the break with both lone front men, including Clarets debutant Charlie Austin, starved of real service.

But just as Burnley were trying to get the breakthrough in a bright start to the second half, disaster struck, when Michael Duff inadvertently headed the ball into his own net from one of numerous James Coppinger crosses.

But it was perhaps the only kind of goal that was going to separate two teams needing wins for different reasons.

With Burnley desperate to push back themselves back into the play-off picture, Howe looked to Austin to give them a spark at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But, in hindsight, the 21-year-old £1m-plus capture from Swindon Town perhaps needed more time to work with his new team-mates and gel.

It became an increasingly tough game for the striker to get into, especially leading the way on his own and without sufficient support from the wings that he would normally be able to rely on.

Collectively, they didn’t do enough to test goalkeeper Gary Woods and struggled to produce the killer final ball, while Doncaster – without a win in their last six games – weren’t playing like a side low on confidence after a run of four defeats on the spin.

They could easily have been in front by half time had it not been for Dean Marney’s goal-line clearance.

Arguably Burnley’s best opening came as early as the fourth minute, when Austin got his only sniff.

Jack Cork did well to keep a pass in play and cross from the byline. Woods looked to have it covered but spilled the ball with Austin at his feet, but the striker wasn’t expecting the chance and couldn’t bundle it past the Doncaster stopper.

It was Grant who, despite having little in the way of saves to make, had to be on guard as Doncaster foraged forward, with summer Clarets target Billy Sharp spearheading the attack, flanked by Coppinger and Howe’s former team-mate and house-mate, James Hayter.

Coppinger looked especially lively down the right, and after having a shot deflected into the side-netting, Sharp headed wide from the 30-year-old’s cross midway through the half.

Doncaster got closer as half time got nearer. Tyrone Mears’ clearance under pressure spun loose for Hayter to shoot on sight, but the striker fired wide.

Then, after Duff had tangled with John Oster on the edge of the box and the ball pinballed in the box, Marney got his body in the way of Sharp to see the Clarets through to the break unscathed.

Sending his side out in good time for the second half was a statement of intent from Howe. He wanted his players to get on the front foot from the restart, and the Clarets would surely have succeeded had they not wasted two early corners.

Marney then had the ball in the back of the net in the 50th minute, but had been caught offside on receiving the ball from Jay Rodriguez.

Doncaster bit back, and it needed a speedy recovery from Grant, who failed to clear the ball when he came sprinting out of his area, to prevent 13-goal Sharp benefiting from an empty net.

He brought another smart save from Grant soon after, this time with a shot on the turn from Coppinger’s ball in.

Burnley were dealing with the hotshot’s pressure, but proved the architects of their own downfall just before the hour, when Duff tried to head Coppinger’s inswinging right-foot cross behind, but turned it into his own net.

Howe rang the changes, using all three substitutions in the space of 10 second-half minutes, switching from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 with Chris Iwelumo and Martin Paterson forming the strike partnership and Ross Wallace providing the ammunition from the right, as the Clarets hunted down an equaliser.

But it never looked on the cards, and Burnley must still learn how to win back-to-back league games this season.

Burnley: Lee Grant, Tyrone Mears, Clarke Carlisle, Michael Duff, Danny Fox, Wade Elliott (Chris Iwelumo 65), Jack Cork, Dean Marney, Chris Eagles, Jay Rodriguez (Ross Wallace 75), Charlie Austin (Martin Paterson 71). Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Andre Bikey, Graham Alexander, Steven Thompson.

Doncaster: Gary Woods, James Chambers, James O'Connor, Sam Hird, George Friend, John Oster (Dean Shiels 89), Brian Stock (Dennis Souza 84), Paul Keegan, James Coppinger, Billy Sharp, James Hayter (Steve Brooker 46). Subs not used: Jordan Bradshaw, Byron Webster, Ryan Mason, Dean Shiels, Waide Fairhurst.

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 8,893.