Burnley's dream start frightens off Everton

Burnley 1 Everton 0
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The Independent Football

Hands up those who still believe Burnley's victory over Manchester United in midweek was a fluke?

The euphoria which greeted three points against Sir Alex Ferguson's reigning champions swept Turf Moor once more yesterday as Everton became the latest side to be sent packing from east Lancashire by Owen Coyle's Premier League new boys.

Wade Elliott, scorer of the goal that won his side promotion in May's Championship play-off final against Sheffield United, decided an entertaining contest with a strike just as valuable as the one he scored at Wembley.

Make no mistake. Burnley were good value for the win and now face back-to-back league games against Chelsea and Liverpool after making it six points from three matches. "Every point in the Premier League is valuable and we're delighted to have six of them," Coyle said.

In contrast, David Moyes, the Everton manager, is still awaiting his first point of the season after another lacklustre performance which was summed up by Louis Saha's late miss from the penalty spot.

Moyes will move quickly to use the money from Joleon Lescott's expected sale to Manchester City to bring in an experienced defender before the transfer window closes next week.

He certainly needs to, on the evidence of the opening 180 seconds alone when slack marking presented Burnley with two clear chances to carry on from where they left off in midweek.

Martin Paterson scored 19 times during his side's promotion campaign and he could have had two in the opening three minutes of this match as Everton's first visit to Turf Moor for 34 years turned into an unpleasant experience.

There were just 40 seconds on the clock when Stephen Jordan's pin-point cross found Paterson who unleashed a terrific effort which rattled the crossbar. The rebound fell to Steven Fletcher, the club's record £3m signing, but goalkeeper Tim Howard was equal to his snap shot.

It was a sign of things to come. Paterson was allowed another opportunity in the third minute, his glancing header from Elliott's cross drifted wide when the striker, unmarked and on the edge of the six-yard area, should have done much better.

There is no doubt the saga of Lescott's future has had a detrimental impact on the Everton dressing room. The embarrassing 6-1 drubbing by Arsenal on the opening day provided evidence of that, and there were further worrying signs at Turf Moor.

This was virtually the same Everton side which secured a top-five Premier League finish and reached the FA Cup final last season. Yet they looked disjointed and, for periods, disinterested as Burnley were allowed to stamp their authority.

It took half an hour for Everton to carve out a serious chance, but goalkeeper Brian Jensen, an inspiration during Burnley's victory over United, denied teenager Jack Rodwell his third goal in two games after good work by Leighton Baines.

But Jensen was hardly troubled after that, and in the 34th minute his opposite number found himself picking the ball out of his net following an exquisite finish by Elliott over the head of Howard after taking a deflection off Phil Neville.

Elliott's rise to the Premier League has been every bit as enchanting as Burnley's return to the top tier. A decade ago he was juggling a university degree with performing in front of 200 fans every week for non-league Bashley Town, then managed by former Liverpool European Cup winner Jimmy Case. He secured a £5,000 move to Bournemouth before moving to east Lancashire four years ago on a free transfer.

Elliott is emerging as one of the shrewdest signings in Burnley's history. His goal was greeted by a sudden cloud burst but that failed to dampen home spirits.

If anything, Elliott's strike galvanised his side while Everton huffed and puffed their way through the second half without seriously threatening an equaliser.

The visitors' miserable afternoon was summed up in the 55th minute. A lapse of concentration by Elliott saw Burnley's goalscorer give the ball straight to Saha on the edge of the penalty area, only for the French striker's effort to sail high and wide of the target.

Then came late drama when referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty after Tony Hibbert was adjudged to have been fouled by Chris McCann. Television replays showed there had been no contact and justice was done when Saha fired the spot-kick wide.

In truth, Burnley should have won by a bigger margin, McCann had an overhead kick tipped over by Howard before Dowd's final whistle confirmed Everton's second successive league defeat. "The penalty decision was a big moment," Coyle said. "There were few complaints from our lads when we gave a penalty away against Manchester United the other day, but this time they thought it wasn't a penalty.

"We've had a good week, but that's all it's been. There's so much more work ahead of us."

Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Mears, Bikey, Carlisle, Jordan; Blake (Guerrero, 84), McCann, Alexander, Elliott; Fletcher (Thompson, 86), Paterson (Eagles, 80). Substitutes not used: Penny (gk), Kalvenes, McDonald, Gudjonsson.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Neville, Baines; Osman, Rodwell, Cahill, Pienaar; Fellaini (Jo, 66); Saha. Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Vaughan, Gosling, Duffy, Baxter, Wallace.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Burnley Elliott.

Man of the match: Elliott.

Attendance: 19,983