Date: 10th March 2014 at 7:02pm
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The long wait is finally over! Burnley have at last got back the bragging rights after virtually 35 years of hurt thanks to a stonking 2-1 victory over ‘the owd enemy` at Ewood Park on Sunday. The last time we tasted such sweet success over Blackburn Rovers was way back in April 1979 and although the two bitter enemies have only faced each other twelve times since then, Sunday`s victory was one hell of a way to set the record straight and start one of our own! The Clarets can proudly proclaim they have not been beaten by Rovers now in four years!

The emotional day and of course the importance of the result in terms of local pride cannot be underestimated but then Burnley also have bigger fish to fry! The Clarets lined up against Rovers on Sunday knowing they were still in second spot already five points clear of their nearest rivals, Derby County, They now know after beating Blackburn that the lead has increased to a remarkable eight points, a very comfortable margin with just another twelve games to play. The Rams lost 1-0 at home to struggling Millwall on Saturday and Forest too also lost ground going down 1-0 at relegation-threatened Barnsley. Only QPR amongst the chasing pack for automatic promotion managed to pick up all three points following a 2-0 win at Birmingham but they are now still nine points behind the Clarets albeit with a game in hand. The Clarets with Leicester not playing at the weekend have now also reduced the Foxes lead from eight to five points and we still have to play them to at home! Everything is looking rosy but we have to keep calm and take every game as it comes. That is certainly the mantra of gaffer Sean Dyche who steered the Clarets to a remarkable comeback against Rovers. The Clarets came storming out of the blocks and looked to be in control during the first 15 minutes or so of the game but they took a body blow in the 24th minute when Rhodes put the hosts ahead annoyingly ending a nine-match scoreless streak Burnley seemed to lose momentum for the remainder of half after going behind leaving Clarets fans fearing the worst. Burnley looked stronger in the second half but were fortunate not to go 2-0 behind after a mistake by Jones allowed Dunn to pounce on the weak back-pass to set up Rhodes. It should have been easy meat for the former Huddersfield striker but thankfully he hit the woodwork much to the relief of all Clarets fans! That was a massive turning point in the game and the Clarets suddenly had belief again. Sean Dyche played a master stroke in the 68th minute with a double-substitution bringing on Wallace and Barnes to replace Kightly and Vokes. Wallace in particular livened up proceedings and in the 73rd minute, his free-kick floated over nicely for Shackell to rise up the highest and head home sending the visiting fans ballistic. It got even better six minutes later when Danny Ings put the Clarets ahead with a well-taken deflected shot to notch up his 25th goal of the season! The rest of the game may have been nervy for Clarets fans, especially knowing Blackburn`s record of last minute goals but this time it wasn`t to be and the Clarets finally had that historic victory under their belt! Being forced to stay behind after the game didn`t seem too bad either after picking up that victory and another brief appearance by Sean Dyche and some of the other players added to the fans delight. The bus convoy home was probably one of the most enjoyable rides back from Ewood in some time. Giving stick to the Rovers fans as we passed through their locals streets onto the M65 and then being cheered in by Burnley fans unable to make the game at the other end made it a perfect day and one that I will treasure for many a season. I have been Editor of Vital Burnley for about nine years now and had to write many match reports from the highs of Wembley 2009 to the lows of relegation and the Premier League defeats by Blackburn! Now I can safely say, this is one of the most pleasurable match reports I have ever had to write! At last!!

Team Sheet

This was a no brainer for Sean Dyche who was able to name the same starting eleven for the eighth consecutive time. There were no surprises on the bench either so we lined up as expected as follows:

Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Arfield, Jones, Marney, Kightly, Vokes, Ings

Subs: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Treacy, Stanislas, Wallace, Barnes

Full Match Report

Over 4500 Clarets made the journey down the M65 on the convoy of buses provided and gawd knows how many more will have watched the match live on Sky Sports or on the repeats and on demand. This was one hell of a big day with so much pride at stake not to mention a big game in relation to our automatic promotion chances. Most Clarets fans would probably openly admit to being nervous at Ewood Park before the kick-off and rightly so knowing the recent history and lack of a win against Rovers in 35 years. Mike Dean got the match underway on a bright, sunny spring day and both teams went hell for leather in the opening few minutes. Just four minutes into the game, Heaton came to the rescue diving to save a header from Jordan Rhodes. But it was the Clarets who got the ball in the net first but the goal was ruled offside. Scott Arfield had charged into the area to put over a low cross into the path of Sam Vokes who tapped home in the eight minute only to see the linesman raise his flag. In the first 15 minutes of the game though, Burnley looked dominant, taking the upper hand and causing the Blackburn defence all sorts of problems. The Rovers keeper, Paul Robinson was certainly kept busy and Trippier was becoming a right handful down the right flank. Ings and then Arfield met two of Trippier`s crosses only to see their headers fly just off target. The only answer Rovers had at this stage was to hope to catch the Clarets out on the break and the tactic nearly worked on 17 minutes when Luke Varney tried a curling shot that flew over the bar. Burnley`s dominance began to wane a bit and now both sides began to have chances with both Ings and Rhodes in the thick of things both narrowly missing a couple of attempts. Clarets fans hearts sank though when suddenly Burnley went behind in the 24th minute thanks to a well-taken Rhodes goal. Jason Lowe set up the Scotland international striker with a pass into the penalty area. Turning sharply Rhodes managed to bamboozle both our central defenders who had been closely marking him. His low shot towards the corner of the net gave Heaton no chance and now all the fears came flooding back for the visiting fans. Burnley had failed to capitalise on their early dominance and they now seemed to have paid the price. The Clarets seemed to struggle for the reminder of the half now although six minutes before the break they had a chance to equalise when Ings raced through on goal following some sloppy defending leading to a poor backpass from Craig Conway. His shot though hit the legs of Robinson with the ball bouncing out of Ings reach as he tried to latch onto the rebound. Ben Mee saved the day for the Clarets just one minute before half-time when perfectly positioned on the line he managed to clear a shot on target from Lowe. It was 1-0 to Rovers then at half-time and it was a half which finished disappointingly for the visitors after showing such early promise.

Neither side made any changes for the start of the second-half and four minutes from the restart, Burnley claimed to have a penalty after Ings latched onto a lofted ball from Trippier. His pace looked to be taking him clear until Grant Hanley appeared to man-handle the striker and bring him down. Referee Mike Dean though was having none of it and waved away the protests. If ever there was a match-defining moment, it was when Rhodes looked certain to put Rovers 2-0 up in the 55th minute after a terrible mistake from Jones. The former Rovers midfielder`s wayward backpass allowed Dunn to pounce and weave the ball through to the former Huddersfield striker. He looked certain to score but his shot thankfully hit the upright and flew out of play. It was one massive let off for the Clarets who would have had a huge mountain to climb had that gone in. The miss seemed to galvanise the Clarets into action and their chances of equalising were bolstered by a double-substitution in the 68th minute. It was the Barnes-Wallace effect, you could say but it certainly led to more positive play from the Clarets. Ross Wallace in particular looked threatening on the wing and Ashely Barnes aerial threat led to a number of free-kicks. It was from a Wallace free-kick too that gave the Clarets a well-earned equaliser in the 73rd minute. As the in-swinging ball came over, Jason Shackell got up the highest in the area to head home in front of the visiting fans who were now going wild with ecstasy. It got even better six minutes later, when the home contingent became silent and demoralised after seeing their side go 2-1 down. It was not one of Danny Ings best goals but its importance on so many levels was plain to see. The goal came after Wallace pulled back the ball to Barnes. The former Brighton striker then poked the ball into Ings path and he pulled the trigger. His low shot was too powerful for Robinson and the ball hit the keeper on its way into the back of the net. They all count and none more so than this one, Ings 20th league goal now of the season! It was going to be a nervous final 10 minutes now for Clarets fans and all those fears of last minute equalisers in typical Rovers style came flooding back. Heaton was in good form though and saved a couple of late attempts from the hosts. A long range effort from Lowe was tipped over the bar by the keeper and he then mopped up a header by Gestede to ensure that long 35 year wait was finally over! Burnley fans did not seem to mind at all being kept back now and indeed were chanting for Sean Dyche to make another appearance whilst they duly waited! He obliged too bringing to an end a perfect day out for all Clarets fans.

Match Day Stats

Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Henley, Spurr, Lowe, Hanley, Keane, Evans (Taylor – 91), Dunn (Feeney – 71), Rhodes, Varney(Gestede – 81), Conway Subs Not Used: Eastwood, Kane, Olsson, Williamson

Goal: Rhodes 24

Booked: Yellow Cards for Varney (55) and Feeney (71)

Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Arfield, Marney, Jones, Kightly (Wallace – 68) Ings, Vokes (Barnes – 68)

Subs Not Used: Cisak, Edgar, Treacy, Stanislas, Long

Goals: Shackell 73, Ings 79

Booked: Yellow Card for Arfield (74)

Possession: 50% Blackburn, 50% Burnley (Source: BBC Sport)

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral)