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AFC Bournemouth: Sam's strike makes Trotters eat humble pie
BURNLEY’S midweek victory at Bolton saw them not only claim the bragging rights but also have the last laugh over their north west neighbours.
A second-half goal from former Cherries striker Sam Vokes earned the Clarets their first away win against the Trotters in almost 29 years.
And while defeat would have been hard enough to swallow for the success-starved Reebok faithful, there was also a large helping of humble pie to stomach.
Clarets manager Sean Dyche ensured his players would feast heartily after some ill-advised comments had been published in the matchday programme.
Burnley were apparently “in desperate need of rediscovering their early season form” after being plagued by some “recent inconsistencies”.
And to compound their perceived plight, their “poor away form”, according to the article, had “proven particularly costly” as Dyche’s team had “slowly loosened their hold on top spot”.
While the Clarets may have surrendered their place at the summit to Leicester, three league defeats all season is the envy of most other clubs, especially Bolton.
And after winning on the road for a seventh time on Tuesday, they maintained the third best away record in the division to open a three-point gap in second place.
Speaking to the media after watching his team extend to eight matches their unbeaten run, Dyche said: “It was a local derby. It meant something beyond just a result and then the programme gives you fuel as well.
“I just took a few of the quotes and went to a couple of the players and told them apparently we were having a tough time. It was interesting how people viewed how we were doing.
“I was not having a dig at anyone. I just thought it was really interesting that people viewed it as loosening our grip, having a bad time and needing to kick-start our season.”
Having led the Championship at the start of November following 10 victories in their first 13 games, Burnley were eventually toppled by Leicester on Boxing Day.
And while a club record run of nine consecutive wins has helped the Foxes open a commanding lead, the Clarets have remained firmly in the hunt for promotion, making a mockery of their pre-season odds of around 16-1 to go up.
Although their results over the past three months may not have matched their purple patch from August, September and October, Burnley have still proved difficult to beat.
Since Brighton became the first team to lower their colours in August, only Huddersfield and Middlesbrough have managed to take maximum points – with all three defeats coming on the road.
Vokes’s winner at the Reebok took his prolific partnership with former Cherries star Danny Ings to 40 goals for the season with one or the other – or both – having netted in 22 of their 30 league games.