UNSUNG ALFIE IS A TYKES HERO
SEAN Dyche insists Andre Gray and Burnley are a match made in heaven after the striker’s first double in a Clarets shirt sent Bolton to the foot of the table.
Following a scoreless first-half striker Gray struck twice after the interval to seal all three points for the hosts, with the visitors now having taken just six points from a possible 48 on their travels.
As for Gray, he now has four goals in six appearances since arriving at Turf Moor from Brentford for a rumoured club-record fee of £6million.
And Dyche believes the striker is proving he is worth every penny at Burnley, although he would not get drawn into talk of an immediate return to the Premier League.
“We’re enjoying Andre and I think he’s enjoying being here,” the Burnley boss said.
“People forget he’s young, he’s learning and he’s adapting.There’s still a lot he can pick up, but there’s a rawness and a desire to score goals and that’s a fantastic thing.
“There’s no fear in him and that’s a golden thing for strikers.
“He’s getting a connection with Sam Vokes and I think that’s always good to see two strikers linking up and I think there’s a good feel about the group.
“We’re realistic about the division, we know it’s a tough division and as much as we enjoy winning, we’ve got to be realistic and know that there’s another big game coming and that’s on Tuesday.
“It’s way too early to be talking about promotion. We’ve all seen the ups and downs of the league and how it changes. Our main focus is on the next game, it’s simple as that.”
Bolton started the game the brighter and a Neil Danns strike from the edge of the area was tipped over the bar by a fine save from Tom Heaton.
Wellington Silva looked lively on the left-hand side and had half a chance to score in the sixth minute as a Liam Feeney set-piece cleared by the Burnley defence fell to his feet, but his volley spun wildly over the bar.
Burnley then crept back into the game and could’ve been in front in the 20th minute. A Ben Mee clearance went right over the midfield to Gray who took the ball down well before driving into the Bolton penalty area, but he could only drag his shot across the face of the goal.
Both sides then carved out two clear chances apiece before the break as Heaton had to deny Feeney and Dorian Dervite in quick succession before David Wheater cleared a Scott Arfield shot off the line.
The second half got off to a much slower pace, but Burnley were soon ahead as after Ben Amos repelled Gray and Arfield, the former tucked away an opportunity at the third time of asking.
And Gray doubled his and Burnley’s tally on 68 minutes, Arfield playing the striker in with a cute ball and the frontman firing home from inside the penalty area.
Amos denied Gray a hat-trick twice from smart saves from inside the six-yard box on 77 minutes, while Bolton were denied a consolation at the other end as a Wheater header was cleared off the line.
“The difference was the £7m player, he scored the two goals and that’s won the game and I can’t criticise the players,” Bolton manager Neil Lennon said.
“I know we’re bottom of the league and it’s a huge challenge. I don’t like being there because it’s something I’m not used to, but I accept that.
“We’ve got two home games coming up – win them and the whole atmosphere and landscape changes again and that’s what we’ll try to do and get ourselves out of this position.” ALFIE Mawson’s dedication has made him a worthy recipient of the Sky Bet Football League Unsung Hero of the Month award for September.
In four short months, the central defender, 21, has become the figurehead of his club in the local community. Whether it is visiting patients at a local hospice, surprising supporters at their work on his day off or befriending a seriously ill three-year-old Barnsley fan who now refers to him as ‘Big Alfie’, Mawson has embraced the people of South Yorkshire.
“There’s no effort in it,” said Mawson.“Personally, I never feel like I have to do it. It’s just nice to be able to give back, especially to kids who are a lot less fortunate than you.”
Barnsley manager Lee Johnson isn’t surprised by Mawson’s contribution – that’s why he signed him.
“From the first moment I met Alfie, I realised that his values and his morals were very in order and that he was a well-rounded individual.
“He’s a very good footballer but more importantly he’s a good man.”
DANGER MAN: Burnley’s Andre Gray celebrates scoring his first goal
GOOD MAN: Alfie Mawson
STAR MAN ANDRE GRAY Burnley