Burnley take the derby honours with a 1-0 win at Blackburn
Clarets sneak it against rivals
SMASH-AND-GRAB Burnley proved they can always find ways to win, boss Sean Dyche claimed after their derby victory at Blackburn.
Scott Arfield’s second-half strike was enough to separate the East Lancashire rivals despite Blackburn having had all the best chances.
Arfield was the first man to breach the Blackburn defence at Ewood Park in more than eight hours of football, but Dyche insists the curled shot into the top corner deserved to win any game.
“This is a division where you have to find different ways to win,” Dyche said. “Credit to Blackburn, they’ve come at us, they’ve made a real game of it and they’ve had definitely the best chance of the game – if not two.
“But if there’s a goal worthy of winning any game, then that’s Scotty Arfield’s.
“It’s a hard one as a manager. You know you want your team to remain calm but their instinct to win the game in the derby is to drop a little bit, to stay solid and defend it out.
“It’s not our game plan – let’s be clear about that – but we had to do it, and that comes back to finding those different ways to win.”
Rovers had made their intentions clear just ten minutes in, when Jordan Rhodes got across his defender and volleyed just over from Marcus Olsson’s cross.
Burnley wanted a penalty on 25 minutes – which Dyche insisted should have been given – when Grant Hanley bundled Joey Barton over in the area, but referee Keith Stroud ruled he had played the ball first.
Rovers went close to an opener just before half-time, but Rhodes headed just inches wide from Craig Conway’s right-footed cross on 44 minutes.
The Scotland striker then shot over again in first-half stoppage time, his rising strike from 20 yards failing to trouble Tom Heaton.
Blackburn should have been in front on 55 minutes, Rhodes finding Tom Lawrence completely unmarked in the middle after a clever one-two, but the latter somehow blazed his shot over.
The chance buoyed the hosts though and Corry Evans’ low shot fizzed just wide from outside the area on 59 minutes.
Rhodes then went close again on 62 minutes, racing onto Ben Marshall’s long clearance and turning Michael Keane, but his low shot was too close to Heaton who gathered at the second attempt.
Then, completely against the run of play, Burnley were in front on 63 minutes – Rovers’ failure to clear a deep free-kick allowing Arfield to curl into the top corner from 18 yards.
Conway thought he had levelled on 82 minutes when he cut inside and unleashed a rising strike from 30 yards but, with Heaton beaten, the shot cannoned off the crossbar.
Blackburn threw everything at the Clarets deep in stoppage time, but Heaton produced a fine fingertip save to deny Shane Duffy on 93 minutes and Burnley held on. Despondent Rovers boss Gary Bowyer said: “It’s a game we shouldn’t have lost.
“The number of chances we created, and the football we played – especially in the secondhalf – we were dominant.
“And then we’ve been done by a sucker punch of a wonder goal. It’s disappointing, but in terms of the performance levels you can see we were the better team.
“But it comes to a stage where you have to turn that into winning football games.
“We need more ruthlessness, at both ends.We have to keep working hard, and we just need some luck.”
ECSTATIC: Scott Arfield celebrates his winner with Michael Duff