Stephen Cummings: Clarets continue to strengthen claims
IF ever there was a week that was going to prove the doubters wrong and silence the nay-sayers once and for all, then last week might just have been it.
With three tough games in seven days, two of them away from home (and one of them against that lot down the road), it would have been quite understandable if, at some point during last week, the wheels had begun to look as though they might fall off.
But if you’ve got a challenge it’s usually best to meet it head on, which is exactly what the Clarets did by doing what they hadn’t done for the previous 35 years.
Re-establishing ourselves as top dogs in East Lancashire and watching the smug smiles of thousands of Rovers fans turn into masks of despondency after all this time was one of the highlights of an already remarkable season.
But the emotion generated by the victory must have taken a lot out of the players.
Not that you would have known it had you been at St Andrew’s 72 hours later to witness Birmingham and Burnley trade six goals.
Only five of them should have stood. Sadly, although Federico Macheda’s handball for the Blues last-gasp equaliser was obvious to everyone, it escaped the attention of the one man who mattered.
All of which meant that the Clarets had to make do with a mere eight-point cushion between themselves and the chasing pack.
Saturday at least brought with it the comfort of being at home.
Unfortunately, it also brought Leeds United and the news that we’d have to contend with the absence of our most lethal marksman.
The initial signs were not promising. Particularly when we gave United’s leading scorer the freedom of the penalty area to put the visitors in front.
And thoughts began to cross the mind of the claret and blue faithful that perhaps this might have been one game too far in a packed week.
However, not for no reason are Burnley the proud owner of the only unbeaten home record in the entire Football League, and a stroke of good fortune and a strike from Scott Arfield meant the record remained intact.
Not only that, but the sight of a 10-point gap between ourselves and Derby had opened up.
Relentless was a word used by Sean Dyche in the post-match interviews to sum up the nature of the Championship. Last week suggested that the Clarets have its measure.
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