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Charlie Austin at the double as Burnley beat Derby to claim first win

Charlie Austin at the double as Burnley beat Derby to claim first winDerby's perfect start to the season is over and, just as few really understood it in the first place, no one will be entirely surprised.

A fifth successive win would have made it the Rams' best opening to a season since 1905-6, but such an outcome looked unlikely from the start as they took the best part of an hour to find the urgency which characterised their previous performances. By the time they did so they were a goal down, and though they pulled that back, an error by the goalkeeper Frank Fielding left Nigel Clough's young side too much to do.

"The difference between that performance and the previous four was that we gave away goals," Clough said. "Even then I thought a point each would have been a fair reflection on the game, but we'd have taken 12 points from 15 at the start of the season."

Given he has had 10 senior players unavailable due to injury, his mixture of teenagers, players signed from lower leagues and one or two experienced heads, deserve every credit for their efforts to date. At the same time scepticism about Derby's ability to keep their run going has been understandable, and was borne out by the manner in which they were outplayed by a side who arrived at Pride Park as one of only four still looking for a first win in the Championship.

Burnley were also the only club yet to score an away goal in the division, but the visitors looked the more dangerous, and on 15 minutes proved it by all but going ahead. Ross Wallace's cross picked out Charlie Austin, and the former Swindon and Wessex League striker, who had already scored three goals this season, headed against the post with Fielding a spectator.

The visitors continued to press, and when Austin's shot was beaten away by Fielding, Chris McCann's attempt to get to the rebound was thwarted when he was sent sprawling by James Bailey. No penalty, said referee Andy Haines.

It was no surprise that Clough made two changes at half-time, Theo Robinson and Lee Croft replacing Steven Davies and Ward. Within four minutes, however, Burnley had the lead they deserved. Mark O'Brien's hesitation saw Keith Treacy rob the defender, make ground into the penalty area and pull the ball back for the composed Austin to finish from six yards.

Finally Derby dredged up the energy which has been their primary asset this season. Robinson's combination with Croft saw the ball rebound for Jeff Hendrick to turn past Brian Jensen, but not Ben Mee on the line.

Pushing forward in numbers, however, left them vulnerable on the break, and Treacy almost made them pay, shooting against the post from well inside the penalty area as the defenders backed off.

Still Derby pressed. O'Brien, up for a corner, headed straight at Jensen, and with 20 minutes remaining, the pressure told as Craig Bryson wriggled free on the byline and beat Jensen with a low cross which Robinson had only to turn into the empty net.

The lead did not last long. Wallace's shot should have been held by Fielding, but he spilled it. Austin reacted before any of the defenders to turn the ball back past the goalkeeper.

The remaining minutes were frantic, if marred by some cynical time-wasting on behalf of the visitors. Dean Marney should have ended all doubt when one on one with Fielding, but the goalkeeper made the save.

"When they equalised you feared for us, but we showed real resilience and did all the things you need to do to win games," said Burnley's manager Eddie Howe. "We've chopped and changed a bit in trying to find a winning formula, but we've played well enough to have won every game we've played this season."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Richard Rae at Pride Park, for The Observer on Saturday 27th August 2011 18.08 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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