It is a measure of how deep the enmity goes that Burnley's fans had even come equipped for defeat. "Beaten but still above you lot" read a banner they unveiled at the end of an afternoon when pretty much every form of abuse had been thrown back and forth across the terraces and the parentage of the "Dingles", as Blackburnians like to call the other lot, was called into serious question.
There would have been some victory banners stowed at their feet as well, but there was never much danger of the 3,000 fans, who were all bussed down the A666, unfurling them. Burnley hopes did soar briefly when Robbie Blake scored five minutes in. "We thought 'oh dear'," Sam Allardyce said later. However, the Claret who had inveigled his way into the Jack Walker Stand and couldn't contain himself when Blake found the net, had no reason to rue laying out £35 for five minutes of football after he was led away.
Burnley were not in the game again until the 92nd minute, when Chris Eagles swept home Stephen Jordan's cross and set up a short finale. Most of the interim and most of the midfield belonged to Blackburn's David Dunn, whose childhood in Great Harwood, equidistant between the towns, has taught him the real meaning of the Cotton Mill derby. Dunn's performances in the new role Allardyce has found for him behind the striker have been his best for several years and his combination with the Chelsea loan striker Franco Di Santo, whose goal sending Rovers ahead was his first in the Premier League, was something Burnley never remotely coped with.
"He's got to be knocking on the England door, the way he's going," Blackburn captain Ryan Nelsen said of Dunn, who has now netted five times in seven games. "You never know but it's difficult with the players they have," reflected the 29-year-old, who has featured only once for the national side, against Portugal seven years ago, and for now, Allardyce reaps all the rewards of getting him fit at last. "I thought I would be picking two of the four strikers I have but because of Dunny's performances I'm only picking one and that frustrates the others," Allardyce said.
Dunn, the only survivor from the clubs' last league meeting in 2001, pursued every ball as if it were his last, heaving himself into challenges that no one in Burnley's midfield looked remotely interested in. He had probably been salivating at the prospect of a less anaemic contest than this, against an opposition which had not beaten the old enemy since Sam Allardyce, 55 years old today, was an uncompromising 25-year-old centre-half.
Allardyce is resigned to losing Di Santo to cover for Didier Drogba's departure to the African Nations Cup and has good reason to rue the fact. The strength the 20-year-old displayed to lay off Pedersen's clipped cross with his instep into Dunn's path, limiting Burnley's lead to four minutes, was even more impressive than his headed goal four minutes later, when Graham Alexander's struggle with the bouncing ball Chris Samba had headed across the box saw him head the ball straight back at the Argentine striker.
Owen Coyle protested bitterly. He was convinced that Di Santo was leaning into Stephen Jordan as Samba's header looped across and that his goalkeeper Brian Jensen had been put off. But Burnley's players did not argue much. The infringement looked marginal. Burnley revealed more defensive failings when Blackburn went further ahead two minutes before the interval – there was no one tracking Pascal Chimbonda's run into the left side of the box to receive and strike home the ball Pedersen had knocked neatly into his path.
Coyle later launched an impassioned defence of his side, who have five away defeats to go with four wins at home: "We've shown that anyone who wants to write us off will do it at their peril. We'll get points in this division." But there was an absence of much quality about his side and Blake, one of the few who looked dangerous, was an isolated figure on the left flank. Coyle seems to have some work on his hands if the victory banners are to get an airing at Turf Moor, in late March.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): Robinson; Jacobsen, Nelsen, Samba, Chimbonda (Givet, 87); Diouf (Emerton, 82), Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen; Dunn; Di Santo (Roberts, 75). Substitutes not used: Brown, Givet, Emerton, Roberts
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan; Elliott, Bikey (McDonald, 77), Alexander, Blake; Fletcher (Eagles, 60), Nugent (Thompson, 72). Substitutes not used: Penny, Kalvenes, Duff, McDonald, Gudjonsson.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)
Booked: Blackburn Samba; Burnley Carlisle, Mears, Jensen.
Man of the Match: Dunn.
Attendance: 26,689.Reuse content