It really was a case of many happy returns, and not just because it's my birthday, and that of a number of others who use our message board.
It was also a happy return to the Turf for the team after kicking off 2013 with two away games at Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley but also for Palace boss Ian Holloway who we are always delighted to see at our ground.
It's always a happy return when the eccentric Bristolian brings a team to play us. This was his eleventh visit to Turf Moor manager and he's still looking for his first win. Eight of those games, with Bristol Rovers, QPR, Plymouth, Blackpool and now Palace, have ended in home wins with just three draws.
|Great winner from Junior Stanislas|
This time he left with his tail between his legs after a Junior Stanislas goal, and a goal he did striker cleanly despite Holloway's post-match ranting, won the points for Burnley in what was one of the most enjoyable games of the season.
Palace had beaten us 4-3 down at Selhurst Park at the beginning of October, and that after we'd gone 2-0 up. The way they played against us that day is probably where there seemed to be a lot of negativity ahead of today's game with strong suggestions from a lot of supporters I spoke to that a point would be a good one if we could get it.
To add to that, we had something of a depleted squad to select from again. The suspended Brian Stock was added to the injury list of Ben Mee, Chris McCann, Martin Paterson and Charlie Austin, and when the team news came in there were three changes to the team that had gone out of the FA Cup at Barnsley a week earlier.
David Edgar, as expected, came in for Stock and I think it would have been a big surprise had Lee Grant not returned in goal. The other change saw Stanislas preferred to Keith Treacy who joined Jensen, Luke O'Neill, Kevin Long, Marvin Bartley, new signing Dane Richards and Alex MacDonald, recently returned from Plymouth, on the bench.
The game was preceded by an impeccably observed minute's silence, allowing supporters to remember all those with connections to Burnley FC who passed away in 2012, before we got away with the Clarets attacking the cricket field end.
Palace hardly threatened us in a first half that saw us play as well as we've done for some time with the only concern being the lack of a goal. Palace's Argentinean goalkeeper Julian Speroni wasn't tested nearly enough.
We had our chances but rarely did we find the target. Sam Vokes was trying his luck from all sorts of distances, Danny Ings put an effort over the top and Stanislas might have done better when he got into the box on the left.
Even so, there were so many positives. The Palace forward players who had caused us so many problems earlier in the season were well marshalled with full backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Lafferty in particular keeping Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie quiet.
So well were they doing that a lot of our attacking threat came when the full backs linked up with Ross Wallace and Stanislas respectively and Palace struggled to deal with it. More than once we looked likely to get in front but with all three leading scorers this season sat watching we just couldn't find that goal to take us into half time with a lead.
Probably the closest we came was from a Trippier cross. Vokes just failed to reach it at the far post when only the slightest of touches would have seen it go in and soon after we almost fell behind when Jason Shackell, who I thought had his best game for us, deflected a shot towards goal that Grant did well to keep out.
No goals at half time but it really had been a good first half from Burnley. We'd been far and away the better side but had nothing to show for it.
Inevitably, Palace, starting the game in third place, would come into it more and they did in the second half. They started to see much more of the ball but it was us who had the first golden opportunity.
Lafferty moved down the left and played in the perfect ball for Vokes who looked certain to get his head to it. Instead, he went for it with his feet and made a mess of it.
Eventually Palace did put us under some pressure. They won a couple of soft free kicks and came close from one of them but their best chance came when the ball dropped nicely for Andre Moritz but the midfielder completely mis-kicked.
With around ten minutes to go I would have happily settled for a point. We'd probably seen off what Palace could offer but we weren't creating too much by then. Sean Dyche decided to make changes with both Keith Treacy and Marvin Bartley getting ready to come on. By the time they did, we'd finally broken the deadlock.
Vokes played the ball down the right to Ings but it always favoured defender Damien Delaney. Ings didn't give it up, he chased Delaney, got the better of him. He looked up and laid the ball back to Stanislas around the edge of the penalty box.
He had some space to manoeuvre in and did just that, taking his time before curling his shot right into the top corner beyond Speroni's reach. He immediately went down with cramp and before we restarted the double change was made.
We did OK and never looked in trouble until the fourth official held up his board showing five extra minutes. Palace pushed forward. They won a couple of corners and there was, at times, some pandemonium in our box.
We were hacking balls clear, we were getting in blocks and when Grant failed to keep hold of one ball there were so quickly any number of claret and blue shirts to help him out.
Even so, there was some relief when the final whistle did blow to bring to an end one of the most entertaining games I've seen at Turf Moor this season.
It signalled a sixth win for Dyche since he became Burnley manager, and each of them with a clean sheet. Ian Holloway might not think so but this win was deserved.
For home fans it might be a bit of a wait before they see us play again. The next home game against Birmingham will be off should they win their FA Cup replay this week and the following home game is against Huddersfield and that too will be called off should they win their FA Cup 4th round tie against Leicester.
One thing for certain is that we go to Millwall next Saturday looking for a third successive Championship win. If we achieve that it will be the first time since December 2011 when we recorded wins against Brighton, Doncaster and Hull.
Then, whenever the next home game is, we can have another happy return.
The teams were;
Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Dean Marney, David Edgar, Ross Wallace (Marvin Bartley 82), Danny Ings, Junior Stanislas (Keith Treacy 82), Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Luke O'Neill, Kevin Long, Dane Richards, Alex MacDonald.
Yellow Card: Keith Treacy.
Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni, Jonathan Parr, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey, Stuart O'Keefe (Alex Nimely 83), Mile Jedinak, Andre Moritz (Jonathan Williams 90), Yannick Bolasie (Aaron Wilbraham 90), Glenn Murray, Wilfried Zaha. Subs not used: Lewis Price, Matthew, Parsons, Danny Gabbidon, Jermaine Easter.
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).