CHARLIE Austin’s parents do the hard miles every week to watch their son in action – all the way from Bournemouth.
But he is certainly making those traffic jams and stale sandwiches at motorway services worthwhile.
A predatory brace at Pride Park handed the Clarets their first three points of the season, and took his tally to five goals in six appearances so far this term, as he continues to ingratiate himself with the Burnley faithful.
Fred, Karen and Alistair Austin can put the travel blanket and Thermos flask away for the time being, with an international break, safe in the knowledge Austin’s goals have propelled the Clarets to within a win of the play-off places, with a game in hand.
Austin said: “My family keep my feet on the ground. My mum, dad and grandad come and watch me from Bournemouth every game, and they always have done since I was about 20.
“I don’t know how many miles they clock up a year.
“Swindon was only an hour and a half from Bournemouth, so it wasn’t too bad.
“It’s a bit of a trek now, but they’re happy for me.”
The Derby fans weren’t so happy, however, after seeing their side’s 100% record go up in smoke.
Rams fans left in the stand after the game let Austin know in no uncertain terms how they felt about Burnley’s win at Pride Park.
“Watch the steps”, “Stay on your feet” – the quips kept coming as the two-goal striker spoke to the press.
The wags were unhappy with the way the Clarets killed the game off, and Austin duly smiled and shrugged it off.
Three times in the last 10 minutes Burnley physio Ally Beattie was beckoned on the field by referee Andy Haines to treat Ross Wallace and Keith Treacy, and the Rams supporters felt the Clarets were laying it on a bit thick to run the clock down.
Not to say they were milking it, but it was refreshing to see Burnley win ugly for a change, frustrating Derby’s manager, players and fans.
The accusation could be levelled at the Clarets, not that they are a soft touch, but that they can be too nice.
But despite the side’s average age dropping dramatically, Burnley were not naive in the slightest, expertly taking the sting out of Derby’s late pressure. As Austin said: “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win the game.”
This was no victory for skulduggery, however, Eddie Howe’s side played their football, created a raft of chances, hit the woodwork twice, and defended as if their lives depended on it.
Keith Treacy set the tone within 30 seconds, busting a gut to concede a corner with a thumping challenge on John Brayford, and the Irishman was a constant menace going forward, playing a huge role in the opener and hitting the post himself.
Austin had an early sighter, seeing a header saved from Kieren Trippier’s cross, although he was off-side, before Treacy sliced a shot over the top.
The Clarets then broke from a Derby free kick through Treacy, whose shot was deflected over, and from the corner, Ross Wallace played a one-two with Dean Marney, before arrowing a shot over the bar. Burnley continued to threaten down the flanks, and Wallace’s inviting cross was glanced against the far post by Austin.
The Clarets continued to dominate, and Jamie Ward – sent off in his previous two meetings against Burnley, was booked for a cynical challenge on the marauding Trippier, while Ben Mee also picked up a yellow card when he got his timing wrong in a tackle with Steven Davies on halfway.
The Clarets remained comfortable at the back, with Brian Jensen – restored to the side at the expense of Lee Grant – a spectator.
And Burnley could have gone in ahead, as David Edgar sent an effort over the angle after Wallace dummied Trippier’s corner, before Austin saw a shot beaten away, with two shouts for penalties as Chris McCann was challenged by Ben Davies, before Wallace’s cross hit Bryson’s hand.
You wondered if Burnley would pay for their failure to capitalise on their superiority, but five minutes after the break, Wallace fed the ball down the right and Treacy showed great desire to shrug off Mark O’Brien, hit the by-line and show the presence of mind to pick out Austin, who sat keeper Frank Fielding on his backside before flicking the ball past him.
Derby responded well, and somehow failed to equalise as Ben Davies hit the inside of the post from Lee Croft’s centre, after Theo Robinson had picked up a slack pass.
Burnley could have doubled their lead, however, as Jay Rodriguez found Treacy, and as Derby backed off, his shot hit the outside of the post.
The Rams levelled matters with 19 minutes remaining as Burnley switched off for the first time from a throw, alllowing Craig Bryson to centre for Robinson to tap in.
It looked like it might be backs to the wall time, but within three minutes, Edgar found Rodriguez, and from his back heel, Wallace’s stinging shot was spilled and Austin reacted first to slot past Fielding.
Jensen produced heroics to tip over Bryson’s effort, which looked to be flying in the top corner, but still Burnley created chances, as Rodriguez nutmegged Kevin Kilbane, and pulled the ball back for Austin, who, leaning back, fired over.
Andre Amougou and Wade Elliott bolstered the midfield to see the game out, and despite seven minutes of injury time, the Clarets not only held out, but should have added to their lead.
McCann saw a volley tipped over, before Elliott sent Marney clear, only for Fielding to save with his legs.
The final whistle sparked joyous scenes, as Burnley’s start to the season took on a more healthy look.