RECORD-BREAKER Charlie Austin became the quickest player in Burnley Football Club’s history to reach 20 goals as the Clarets were victorious in the trans-Pennine derby.
The Clarets were hit with late goals at both Turf Moor and Elland Road last term but they erased those psychological wounds to reverse that scenario and score in the final 10 minutes to seal maximum points against Neil Warnock’s side.
And what a goal it was. As the game entered the 84th minute Ross Wallace played a pass in to Chris McCann and the Dubliner reacted instantly to provide a majestic, weighted, first time ball in to the path of Kieran Trippier and the full-back’s cross was equally as enticing for Austin who powered a header, unchallenged, beyond Paddy Kenny.
The two sides had gone in goalless at the interval but there was no doubt who controlled the opening 45 minutes after Sean Dyche’s side produced a composed and tidy display, while the visitors were ugly and desperate in possession.
With Burnley’s midfield three of Brian Stock, Dean Marney and Chris McCann dominant, the hosts were able to retain the ball effectively, popping swift passes between them to open their opponents before using the driving force of Martin Paterson and Ross Wallace to pin United back.
The first opportunity arised when McCann slipped a pass in to midfield partner Marney who fired over the top after finding space on the edge of the box. Marney went close again soon after, though he was spurned from point blank range by Kenny after the keeper had spilled Ross Wallace’s left-footed drive from the angle of the area.
After skipper Jason Shackell hoisted an effort high and wide, Leeds had their first chance of note. Aidan White raced on to a piercing pass down the right hand side, beat Ben Mee and centred for El-Hadji Diouf whose effort was taken off target via the leg of Shackell.
That proved to be the only occasion in the opening half where the away side found feet other than hitting high, flicking on, and chasing the loose ball in an incredibly disjointed and uninspiring display.
Midway through the half the hosts were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Charlie Austin’s clever swivel on the edge of the box was handled by Lee Peltier, but referee Geoff Eltringham waved away the appeals.
Martin Paterson fired down the throat of Kenny after showing quick feet 20 yards out and from the resulting clearance Diouf placed his effort wide of the near post from deep inside the penalty box.
The Clarets continued to press, encouraged from the sidelines by their animated new boss, and following another intricate passage of play Stock rolled a pass in to Marney who drilled in to the side-netting.
It was going to take something special for the deadlock to be broken, and Kieran Trippier almost produced that moment with a spectacular 25-yard piledriver which saw Kenny nimble on his toes to leap and touch over with the slightest of fingertips.
And as the half closed Austin’s low effort on the turn was deflected around the post via a deflection with Kenny at full stretch.
The second half proved less eventful and neither side were able to pull the ball down and retain possession. United applied more pressure in the second stanza but continued to lack the idea, creativity or invention to hurt the home side.
Kenny produced a fine save at the foot of his post as McCann volleyed goalwards from Austin’s cushioned assist before Wallace’s curling free-kick was comfortably dealt with by Kenny moments later.
Dyche was forced in to a change when the impressive Mee was withdrawn after picking up a knock in a challenge with Rudolph Austin and Danny Lafferty was his replacement. The full-back struggled to stick with the pace of the game initially and he was caught out when Diouf stormed through on the break, twisting and turning on the edge of the box, before poking the ball in to the path of White who forced Grant in to a save at his near post.
Dyche had promised his players would graft when appointment Burnley boss, and that characteristic continued to force the home side in to the ascendency. Shackell and McCann snapped at the ankles of Brown, applying the pressure before the latter nicked the ball, fed Austin, who poked his attempt in to the arms of Kenny.
Austin headed in to the hands of Kenny from Marney’s measured cross but he made no mistake with seven minutes of normal time remaining, thumping a header past Kenny from close range after a superb build up, etching his name in to the club’s history books in the process.
But Burnley weren’t home and dry at that point and Leeds went close to grabbing a dramatic equaliser when the ball fell to Pearce on the edge of the six-yard box after Trippier dallied with his clearance and the defender prodded goalwards, Grant somehow saved at full stretch and neither Diouf or substitute Luke Varney could apply the touch from close range as the ball broke.
It was a heart in mouth moment but the Clarets held on for a spirited victory, their second consecutive triumph at home, and another clean sheet to boot.