Phil Brown, the Hull manager, resembled a dead man walking last night. Two goals from Graham Alexander inflicted on Hull their fifth away defeat in six outings and the one that is expected to cost Brown his job. Incoming chairman, Adam Pearson, who will officially take office tomorrow, will have seen nothing to convince him that Hull can survive under the current management team, although Brown's misfortune was so bad, he may be given a stay of execution.
Not only were Hull soundly beaten, but they finished the game with 10 men after Geovanni was dismissed for lunging at Steven Fletcher, after 69 minutes, moments after the Brazilian saw what he thought was an equalising free-kick controversially ruled out by referee Mike Jones for a shove in the Burnley wall.
Brown said: "You don't want reasons and excuses, you want referees to make big decisions and get them right. I beg him to watch Match of the Day and then tell me he got the main decisions right. You need the rub of the green and a little bit of luck, but we didn't get any. But you also need fully committed players and we had plenty of those.
"The referee said our goal was disallowed for an upper-arm infringement. I beg to differ, but with that sort of commitment and performance from the players in the future then I think we will be fine."
Paul Duffen's resignation as chairman following revelations the club were in dire financial trouble did Brown few favours considering he had lost his most powerful ally. To pile the pressure on Brown, Pearson took his seat next to club owner Russell Bartlett in the directors' box directly behind the dug-outs, to witness for himself just how bad the state of affairs was within a team that has won just three League games in 2009.
Quite what the powers that be made of Brown's decision to play Geovanni, his side's most creative player, in a holding role in front of the back four remained to be seen. At least Brown had one friend in the ground in the form of Owen Coyle, his former Bolton colleague. Coyle offered his counterpart a hug before kick-off and it will have been appreciated by Brown, who needs all the allies he can get at the moment. Stephen Hunt, it seemed, wasn't one of them, when the winger nudged over Tyrone Mears to concede a dubious penalty in the 20th minute as the defender charged on to Alexander's clever inside pass. The outcome was inevitable as Alexander powered the penalty past Matt Duke to put Coyle's side ahead on his 100th appearance for the club.
Burnley were the dominant force. Andre Bikey should have scored but headed wide before Duke was forced to palm wide a shot by Wade Elliott after he had powered his way deep into the Hull penalty area. Elliott shot wide and Chris Eagles just failed to connect with a cross from the same player as the pressure continued to be applied on Duke's goal.
Duke did well to block a swerving shot from Eagles moments later, but Hull should have been level two minutes before the interval, when Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink chose to shoot instead of passing to the unmarked Kamel Ghilas and saw his tame effort blocked. Moments after the restart the visitors blew another golden chance when Seyi Olofinjana's surging run created a great opening for Ghilas but he failed to beat Brian Jensen when he should have scored.
It summed up Hull's plight but much worse was to follow. Geovanni thought he had equalised after 65 minutes with a free-kick but the goal was disallowed. Having been booked for remonstrating, he was then sent off after a crude challenge on Fletcher before Alexander's raking drive doubled Burnley's lead to leave the visitors buried.
Coyle said: "I thought we deserved it over the course of the game. Phil will feel aggrieved because some big decisions went against him, but this has happened to us this season as well. Hull came out fighting in the second half but my players have produced the goods again. I showed loyalty to the players who lost last week and they have come up trumps."
Referee: M Jones
Man of the match: Alexander
Match rating: 6/10