Tarkowski strikes to turn tide for Burn­ley

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Mike Whal­ley at Turf Moor

James Tarkowski’s per­sonal pain is over, and per­haps Burn­ley’s is com­ing to an end too. Cer­tainly, the Eng­land cen­tre-back’s re­turn to full fit­ness has come at a cru­cial time for Sean Dy­che.

Tarkowski has had two her­nia op­er­a­tions in the past six months, play­ing for nearly a year with the prob­lem.

He can now set about sort­ing out Burn­ley’s de­fence, which has been un­usu­ally gen­er­ous for much of the sea­son. He is a handy goalscorer too.

In his sec­ond start af­ter re­turn­ing from surgery, Tarkowski did not seem to know much about the goal that beat Brighton, de­flect­ing in a Jack Cork shot with his chest from around six yards.

But he made an equally valu­able con­tri­bu­tion at the back, with a late in­ter­ven­tion to di­vert away Leon Ba­lo­gun’s header as Brighton pushed for a late equaliser.

On a squally De­cem­ber day in east Lan­cashire, this was an af­ter­noon for scrap­ping out a vic­tory by what­ever means nec­es­sary.

Burn­ley were not pretty but got the job done, end­ing an eight-match win­less run with a clean sheet in the league for only the fourth time this sea­son. “We’ve ground one out to­day,” man­ager Dy­che ad­mit­ted. “We are kind of get­ting back to where we should be. We’ve played bet­ter than we did to­day, but the ba­sics were done well. Those fea­tures are com­ing back, and that is a base to work on.”

As im­por­tant to the win as Tarkowski was a fine late save from Joe Hart to keep out a Glenn Mur­ray header. Burn­ley were also lucky that Brighton’s £15 mil­lion striker, Jur­gen Lo­ca­dia, headed over a glo­ri­ous chance from Mur­ray’s cross in the fi­nal 10 min­utes.

“I thought we were the bet­ter team,” Brighton man­ager Chris Hughton said. “We had the best chance of the game.”

It would be tempt­ing to say this was a typ­i­cal Burn­ley vic­tory, but it was the first time they had won a Pre­mier League match 1-0 in just short of 12 months. The last time they did so, against Stoke City last De­cem­ber, they rose briefly into the top four. This win lifted them out of the bot­tom three.

There is much work still to be done to drag them clear of trou­ble, and it is un­likely to be a quick job, given that their next two matches are away to Tot­ten­ham and Arse­nal. Still, it is a start.

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