Sam Vokes downs Southampton as high-flying Burnley continue fine form

Southampton 0 Burnley 1: Burnley have now lost only once in ten games and are enjoying a club record start to a Premier League campaign

Nick Szczepanik
St Mary's
Saturday 04 November 2017 18:09
Sam Vokes struck late to give the high-flying Clarets another win
Sam Vokes struck late to give the high-flying Clarets another win

Burnley manager Sean Dyche wrote another paragraph for what is likely to be a convincing letter of application for any top job that might come along at St Mary's today.

The game was not pretty, and it will not be anywhere near the early stages of Match of the Day, but the performance was effective. It was an object lesson in how to win away and if a struggling side were looking for more solidity – a Merseyside club in blue, for instance? - then Dyche would definitely be their man.

His Burnley side soaked up pressure, broke intelligently and took the sting out of the home side. Then Dyche made two substitutions and one of his fresh players, Sam Vokes, scored the only goal in the 82nd minute.

Burnley have now lost only once in ten games - to Manchester City, which is hardly a disgrace - and are enjoying a club record start to a Premier League campaign, not to mention their best in the top flight since the 1973-74 season.

Southampton's difficulties are not hard to pinpoint. They have scored only nine goals in eleven games and are simply not ruthless enough when chances arrive.

Burnley looked solid early on. At one point Southampton's Dusan Tadic ran at their defence, but found all his options closed down bar a square pass. At the other end, Wood was a handful for Cedric and Maya Yoshida, and only a poor final ball prevented Burnley from making chances.

Southampton continued to struggle for a spark 

Southampton, as they have been too often recently, were ponderous and one-paced. Their only opening in the first 25 minutes camewhen Burnley goalkeeper failed to gather a through pass by Nathan Redmond cleanly but Manolo Gabbiadini, who had been chasing in, did not realise in time that the ball had run loose and Pope was able to recover.

On the half hour there was a sudden stirring amoing the home fans as Redmond stepped past Steven Defour's chalenge 22 yards out and lined up a left-foot shot. That went well over the crossbar, but it was the start of a promising period for Saints. Four minutes later James Tarkowski's headed clearance dropped to the feet of Sofiane Boufal, who hit a bouncing volley that Pope had to turn around the near post. And Pope was in action again three minutes before the interval, diving to his right to turn aside a low shot from Redmond after he had cut inside Matthew Lowton and Tarkowski.

Vokes pounced to score what was the only goal of the game 

Dyche was on his feet throughout, micromanaging, gesturing and directing his defence. And he would have been dismayed by the way Gabbiadini beat Tarkowski to a cross from the right, but relieved when the forward could only head weakly wide.

Southampton were getting closer, and Pope had to rescue a situation of his own making when he could only bat away a corner from the left. The ball dropped for Yoshida to hit a dipping volley on the turn that Pope tipped over acrobatically.

Then, with 20 minutes to go, came a sudden flurry from Burnley. Dyche sent on Ashley Barnes and Vokes, and within seconds Welsh international Vokes had dribbled to within a few yards of goal only to misplace his pass.

Burnley kept pace with the top four as their fine form continued 

Saints were now so desperate for a goal that they threw on Republic of Ireland forward Shane Long – 28 games without scoring for club and country– and the supporters even cheered his arrival. But it was skipper Steven Davis who nearly supplied what they wanted, making space 18 yards out for a shot that rose just over the crossbar.

Eight minutes from time, their frustrations were complete. Joey Gudmundsson crossed from the right and Vokes outjumped Yoshida to head back across Fraser Forster and into score his third goal of the season.

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