Derby County’s wretched run of results against Burnley continued at Turf Moor this afternoon, as the Clarets’ high pressing first-half display steamrollered the Rams in a war of attrition.
However, striker Chris Martin’s controversial seconded yellow card two minutes before half-time proved a pivotal decision in the match, after former Derby midfielder David Jones’ acutely placed volley kissed the underside of the crossbar on its way into the net to hand the Clarets a 29th minute lead.
The former Norwich City forward, who had already been booked following a late challenge on centre-back Jason Shackell, was handed his second yellow for apparent simulation in the Burnley penalty area.
Despite a resurgent second-half performance from the Rams, with substitutes Conor Sammon and Patrick Bamford providing a fresh impetus and both going close, Burnley killed any hopes of a Derby revival when Dean Marney’s close-range finish doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 68th minute.
The result means second placed Burnley now have a five point lead over Derby in the Sky Bet Championship, while the win also extends the Clarets’ unbeaten home record over the Rams to seven matches, with Derby’s last victory at Turf Moor coming back in October 2004.
Sean Dyche named the same starting line-up for the seventh consecutive fixture, implementing a rigid and combative 4-4-2 formation, full of energy.
Consistency appears to have played a crucial role in the Clarets’ impressive form this season, as Burnley, unbeaten in their last ten, were the only team in the Championship yet to lose at home this season leading up to the game.
The Clarets started confidently, with a high pressing approach, as full-backs Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee continually provided width down the flanks, while leading scorer Danny Ings was a constant threat, buzzing around penalty area.
And it was the former AFC Bournemouth player who provided the first effort at goal, bursting through the middle of the pitch before skewing his shot wide under pressure from John Eustace and Richard Keogh.
As a front pairing, Ings and Sam Vokes have contributed 42 goals between them this season, and the partnership looked effervescent in the opening 20 minutes, with the former squaring for the later, only for Vokes to see his shot blocked.
Burnley’s high pressing game had the Rams on the back foot, as even goalkeeper Lee Grant was hurried and harried in possession by Ings. The Clarets’ ruthless tempo was breathtaking at times, and it subsequently led to opportunities in front of goal.
Defender Jake Buxton was on hand to thwart Vokes in the penalty area after Andre Wisdom was muscled out of possession, but in the 29th minute, the Clarets eventually took the lead, when Jones took control of the ball on the edge of the box and looped a volley over Grant that dropped in off the underside of the crossbar.
After a spell of nervousness from the Rams, surprisingly, Burnley’s advantage seemed to settle them down, but just as Steve McClaren’s side looked to mount serious pressure on the hosts’ goal, Martin was brandished a second yellow card, two minutes before the interval, for apparent simulation in the Clarets’ penalty area.
With the Rams both a goal and a man down at half-time, missing their focal point in attack, McClaren brought on Sammon to lead the line, with the unfortunate Johnny Russell making way.
Derby were more compact in the early stages of the second-half and their efforts to break up Burnley attacks further away from their own goal was apparent, with Will Hughes collecting a booking for a tactical foul on Scott Arfield in the midst of a counter attack.
With Eustace, Hughes and Jeff Hendrick positioned closer together, Simon Dawkins provided the support for Sammon, and it was the Republic of Ireland international who almost levelled the game, when his heavily deflected shot was stopped dead on the line by Tom Heaton, as the Rams fans behind the goal waited in bated breath.
Like Sammon, fellow substitute Bamford almost made an instant impact, when he escaped down the right and fired over from a tight angle, prior to having a volley from distance comfortably held by ‘keeper Heaton.
However, Derby’s resistance proved futile, as Dyche’s side powered into a two-goal lead in the 68th minute. From a corner routine devised on the training ground, two Burnley players dummied, leaving Ings to slam a shot goalwards. The ball pinballed around the penalty area, prior to dropping kindly for Marney, who stabbed in from inside the six-yard box.
The goal rejuvenated a leggy Burnley, as Ings flashed a header wide moments later, while at the other end, Sammon slid a cross-come-shot across the face of goal, before Bamford reacted wrathfully at being denied a penalty following a collision with Mee.
Burnley’s victory over the Rams was the first time McClaren’s side have lost in eight games, but the Rams were far from toothless at Turf Moor, as decisions from the officials will undoubtedly leave a bitter taste in the visitors’ mouths.
Derby County: Grant (GK); Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Hendrick, Hughes, Eustace (Bryson 72'), Dawkins (Bamford 62’), Martin, Russell (Sammon 45’).
Substitutes not used: Legzdins (GK), Ward, Whitbread, Thorne.
Burnley: Heaton (GK); Trippier, Duff, Shackell , Mee; Arfield (Stanislas 87’), Marney, Jones, Kightly (Wallace 64') ; Vokes, Ings (Barnes 80').
Substitutes not used: Cisak (GK), Edgar, Long, Treacy.