PL REPORT: Burnley 1 Sheffield United 0
Ben Mee’s first Turf Moor goal in six years handed Burnley a priceless new year boost.
The skipper popped up with a timely winner – his first strike at home since January 2015 – to get the Clarets back to winning ways.
The magnitude of the game was palpable, as United looked to avoid a worst ever start by a Premier League club.
Burnley, in contrast, were looking to extend their unbeaten home run to five games as they continue to pull themselves away from the danger zone.
And Mee’s second goal of 2020, following his winning header at Crystal Palace in June, was the perfect way to see out the year in a scrappy encounter.
The Clarets welcomed back Robbie Brady, although left-sided wide-man Dwight McNeil failed to recover from a groin injury to take his place in the starting line-up, while strikers Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra were both absent from the squad.
However, within 50 seconds Burnley’s two fit strikers combined to create a good chance that could have put United straight on the back foot. Chris Wood knocked down Matt Lowton’s angled ball into the box and strike partner Ashley Barnes forced a fine sprawling save from Aaron Ramsdale.
But there was a blow in the seventh minute when Charlie Taylor looked to tweak a hamstring and was replaced by Josh Benson, with Erik Pieters dropping as a ready-made replacement left back.
The Blades, meanwhile, had sounded the alarm bells ahead of kick off with the news that a number of players had contracted Covid-19, which led to Chris Wilder only able to name seven substitutes and hand Lys Mousset a first start of the season.
And from their first attack of the evening, approaching the half hour mark, they came close to opening the scoring.
Mee had shovelled David McGoldrick’s low ball into the box behind, and from the resulting corner, Josh Brownhill was perfectly placed to clear Rhian Brewster’s header off the line.
And almost immediately, Burnley took the lead from their own corner. Chris Wood forced a spectacular save from Ramsdale with a firm header from Brady’s pinpoint cross, and from the Irishman’s flag kick, Mee rose highest to plant home a pinpoint header and end his Turf Moor drought.
That was the 200th Premier League goal of the Sean Dyche era, and Brady came close to adding to the tally, arrowing a free kick just over the angle as the Clarets looked to press home their advantage before the break.
United, in contrast, would have wanted to test the Clarets defence more as they continued to seek an elusive first win of the season. And six minutes into the second half they carved out an opening for McGoldrick, whose angled effort forced Pope into evasive action.
George Baldock and John Egan were both narrowly off target as Burnley struggled to get any attacking momentum as the half progressed.
Dale Stephens replaced Barnes as the Clarets adapted to a 4-5-1 as they looked to lock the back door.
And despite late possession from the visitors, the defence stood firm to eke out a sixth clean sheet of the campaign and chalk up a huge win.
BURNLEY: Pope, Taylor (Benson 7), Mee, Tarkowski, Lowton, Brady, Westwood, Brownhill, Pieters, Wood, Barnes (Stephens 78). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Norris, , Bardsley, Long, Dunne, Mancini, Mumbongo
BOOKED: Lowton 45
SHEFF UTD: Ramsdale, Baldock, Stevens, Basham, Mousset (Burke 63), Egan, McGoldrick, Robinson (Fleck 57), Ampadu, Osborn, Brewster. Subs: Verrips, Lowe, Norwood, Bogle, Bryan
BOOKED; Stevens 73, Burke 90
REF: Chris Kavanagh
Wed, Oct 27, 2021