Another Gray brace and another three points

From the minute he converted a 12th minute penalty that he'd won himself, the points never looked to be going anywhere other than to us until the last 15-20 minutes when Huddersfield gave it a real go, but even then we could have added to our lead before they did pull one back with that late own goal.

I always find the game that follows a clash against our local rivals can be a bit of an anti-climax. The build up to last week's game was intense and went on for some considerable time. Even at Rotherham, whilst in front, there were chants from the away end suggesting we should bring them on.

On the previous occasion we won at Ewood we went to Birmingham for the next game, another away trip, this time it was at home and I felt it contributed to a slightly flatter atmosphere before the game than we might have expected.

Two more goals for Andre Gray

Having said that, I was in my seat earlier than usual yesterday. The players were still warming up but as they left the field the biggest applause was for Scott Arfield given his elevation to cult status, along with Tom Lawrence of course, for his efforts in front of goal last week.

Sean Dyche had, by then, and as expected, named an unchanged team to the one that had triumphed at Ewood with the same seven substitutes on duty as had been the case a week ago.

Huddersfield had been beaten 2-1 at home by Derby a week ago and manager Chris Powell had spoke about the difficulty of facing Burnley and that his side would have to compete. He made two changes to his side.

One of them was forced on him with Mustapha Carayol coming in for the injured Sean Scannell, but he preferred Jamie Paterson to Nahki Wells, the former Bradford striker relegated to the bench.

When the opposition manager suggests you might be too strong for his side and their need to compete, you suspect they might be bringing a couple of X43 buses with them to park. When that's the case you often need to get between the two parked buses early and get in front or it can lead to a frustrating afternoon.

We haven't scored too many early goals this season. David Jones opened the scoring in the home win against Sheffield Wednesday in the 7th minute and Gray gave us a 9th minute lead at Rotherham, but these are the only two we've scored in the first twenty minutes of games.

Make that three; this time we were in front in the 12th minute after referee Oliver Langford pointed to the penalty spot. When Gray went down under challenge from Joel Murphy it brought to an end a flowing move.

Was it the correct decision? From my vantage point it looked a banged to rights penalty but there are clearly some doubts. Powell said his players were adamant it wasn't one and there have been suggestions from better placed Burnley fans that it might have been harsh.

To be honest, I don't care. I've seen us refused so many clear penalties this season; there were three in the first two games against Leeds and Birmingham, and I witnessed David Coote embarrassingly awarding one to Birmingham and their cheating Clayton Donaldson. So, if we got one we shouldn't have got, so what.

I was expecting Sam Vokes to step up to take it. Sam scored with his last spot kick against Doncaster back in March last year; this is the first time since that we've been awarded a spot kick with him on the pitch.

Although he's looking the part in front of goal, I was surprised when Gray stepped up. To my knowledge he's never taken a Football League penalty; he's certainly not previously scored from one.

Gray might have been equally surprised. "I don't really take penalties but myself and Vokesy have a little arrangement and I was up first," he said, adding: "I scored one at Luton. I'm not really a penalty taker but I'm going to have to be now.

"We both want to see each other score so we've come to an arrangement that we'll keep between ourselves but it's good to keep the keepers guessing."

I needn't have had any concern. A quick change of step on the short run up and he placed it right down the middle with goalkeeper Jed Steer having gone to his right and Burnley were a goal up.

We went on to dominate the first half but didn't too often look as though we might add to that opener although there were a couple of occasions when we should have done. Arfield, playing against his former club, opted to shoot on one occasion with players waiting but the best chance of all fell to George Boyd.

Gray just had to be involved. This time he got the ball in from the right. Boyd opted to go for the near post allowing Steer to save; a shot across the goalkeeper would have almost certainly brought a second goal.

We were undoubtedly the better side and finally, with the early half time departers vacating their seats in the stands, we did double our advantage and what a good goal it was. It was no surprise that our two central midfielders Joey Barton and David Jones were involved, they'd run the first half.

Barton found Jones who pushed the ball forward for Vokes. The pass from Vokes to play in Gray was exquisite; the striker ran onto it and hit a first time shot from the right hand side of the box which hit the net so quickly.

I did think the goalkeeper had failed to get down quick enough having been beaten on his near post, but that ball was hit with some power and I don't, on reflection, think he had a chance of getting to it.

Gray is doing what Jay Rod did for so long right now, scoring all his home goals at the Jimmy Mac end of the ground. All five of his Turf Moor goals have come at that end and this goal meant he'd scored four goals in the last 90 minutes of home football.

Nothing much changed in the first part of the second half and we might have added to our tally. Vokes fired straight at Steer from the edge of the box and Gray frightened them to death on at least another couple of occasions.

The second of them saw him hauled down by Dean Whitehead with referee Oliver Langford pulling his yellow card out for the first time in the afternoon. Whitehead was a lucky man to stay on the pitch; quite how he'd avoided a yellow a few minutes earlier only Langford will know and how he didn't get another one later remain baffling.

One more goal and it would most definitely been game over. It didn't come and, worryingly, Huddersfield started to get back into the game. They fired one effort wide when they should have done better and then Wells, on as a substitute, did really well to get onto a ball only to volley just over. Soon after he forced Tom Heaton into a double save and I was beginning to get worried.

At the other end the once prolific Michael Keane twice came close. They scrambled the first one away eventually but with the clock ticking down he headed against the woodwork following a Jones corner.

Just 22 seconds after the ball came back off the post, Huddersfield had pulled one back. They switched the ball from left to right but were then able to get down that side far too easily. When the cross came in, potentially via Keane's hand, Duff could do no more than turn it into his own net.

Huddersfield piled forward then and put us under some pressure for the remaining two minutes plus the four minutes added time. It was hair raising stuff but they didn't get another clear opportunity.

Even so, it was some relief when Langford blew that final whistle to signal another win, a fourth in five games.

Results from elsewhere meant the result was needed to keep third place. A draw or a defeat would have seen us slip to fifth, but the win also means we are now five points clear of seventh place. It's given us four wins and a draw in October with Dyche surely set to be nominated for manager of the month.

I've read that our poor goal difference is going to cost us; I've seen some considerable criticism of our performance and general play. Yet, over in Yorkshire, Radio Leeds were enthusing over our performance.

We are still that bit short with the ball at times but remain excellent in the most part without it. Dyche's framework was there for all to see yesterday with the two lines of four making it really difficult for Huddersfield until they started hitting balls into the box.

Some were writing us off after the defeat at Ipswich; one message board poster suggested the Brentford home game was a must win game. We've now got 28 points from 14 games and, just as we were two seasons ago, looking a side that's very hard to beat.

It was just a shame we couldn't keep that second successive clean sheet. I'm sure with a 2-0 win everyone would have been enthusing about the performance and the result.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Chris Long 87). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Matt Lowton, Stephen Ward, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Rouwen Hennings.
Yellow Card: Joey Barton.

Huddersfield: Jed Steer, Jason Davidson, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson, Martin Cranie, Harry Bunn, Emyr Huws, Dean Whitehead (Flo Bojaj 90), Mustapha Carayol (Kyle Dempsey 72), Jamie Paterson, Ishmael Miller (Nahki Wells 59). Subs not used: Joe Murphy, Duane Holmes, Philip Billing, William Boyle.
Yellow Cards: Dean Whitehead, Harry Bunn.

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands).

Attendance: 16,749 (including 1,309 from Huddersfield).

 

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