EDDIE Howe felt Burnley were deserved winners at Pride Park.
The Clarets showed both silk and steel to earn a first league victory of the season at the fourth attempt, against a Derby side who had taken 12 points from 12.
Charlie Austin netted both goals in a 2-1 success, and Howe smiled: “I thought it was a really good game.
“I thought we started well and we were the better team in the first half, and I thought the game was there for the taking at half-time.
“I thought we looked dangerous, and Charlie and Jay Rod worked really well together, and our two wingers were causing problems.
“I thought we were well in the game, and if we could lift our performance a little bit we’d win it.”
Austin put them in front just after the break, and Howe added: “When we got our noses in front we looked quite comfortable at that stage, and then Derby started getting going and we were on the back foot a little bit and they equalised.
“You fear for us then because of what’s happened this season, but thankfully, the lads dug in and showed great resilience and team spirit, and showed all the hallmarks of a really good side.
“You have to win ugly sometimes, and for the last 20 minutes we battened down the hatches and saw the game out.
“That’s the toughness we need to get as a side. We still need to improve and we can do it better, but we put our bodies on the line, we won our headers when we had to, we marked well from set plays, all the things that you need to do to win games. We need to show that side more consistently, but it’s a step in the right direction for us.”
Austin now has five goals in six appearances so far this season, justifying Howe’s faith in him, and £1.2m outlay in January: “We scored at good times. Keith did fantastically for Charlie’s first, and Charlie reacted really well to the rebound for the second so I’m delighted for him that he continues his good goalscoring form.
“He has a knack of being in the right place and he’s a fantastic finisher, we see that every day in training. He’s still young and he’s getting better and better, so they are really positive signs for him.
“It’s a blossoming partnership between him and Jay, who worked extremely hard, and just lacked a little bit of luck in front of goal.”
A first clean sheet in 18 games was beyond Burnley, but otherwise it was a terrific defensive effort: “We were disciplined and defended very well at times.
“I’m delighted because we have chopped and changed it a little bit, which isn’t my preference but, with the results and the goals we conceded, I just felt we needed to make a change.
“That’s no reflection on anybody who’s left out of the side, it’s just trying to find a winning formula.
“The lads did well, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
“We’ve still got things to improve.”
Howe made the call to restore Brian Jensen in goal at the expense of Lee Grant, and Howe explained: “Brian did very well and it was a good comeback for him, and it was a difficult decision.
“I am lucky to have two fantastic goalkeepers who are both number ones, but I felt I needed to make a change.
“That’s nothing on Lee, but Beast is a fantastic goalkeeper, and to have him back between the sticks was good because I felt he commanded his area, came for crosses and was there when we needed him.”