Burnley 2 Wolves 0On a day when Burnley remembered John Connelly, the late, great winger would have been pleased to have seen his old team get the better of Wolves again in a winning start for new manager Sean Dyche.
When Connelly helped Burnley win the League Championship in 1960, it was at the expense of Wolves as the Old Gold were denied a third straight First Division title.
Times have changed much since but it was fitting the two olds foes met again as Turf Moor firstly fell silent to remember Connelly and then rose to welcome Dyche.
As a player, Dyche never finished on the winning team against Wolves but in his first attempt as manager broke that duck in the perfect start to his Burnley reign.
And the former Watford boss could barely have been more pleased with a rock-solid performance which gave him the perfect platform to build on.
A third clean sheet of the season hinted at better things to come defensively and at the other end goals from Martin Paterson, who followed up the last goal under Eddie Howe with the first under Dyche, and Charlie Austin’s 19th of the season secured a victory - a third in fourth games - that was as efficient as it was fitting.
Dyche’s first selection had brought recalls for Ben Mee, David Edgar and Ross Wallace and as well as that statement of intent – Chris McCann’s absence from the side that collapsed at Cardiff a week ago being the only injury-enforced change – his players also responded to the work directive handed out by the new boss.
With Edgar handed a deep-lying midfield role in tandem with Brian Stock, the Canadian international, starting his first club game for nearly a month, epitomised the effort expended in meeting Dyche’s desire to see some ‘sweat on the shirt’.
Austin’s lone striking role, with support from Paterson, Wallace, and Dean Marney, emphasised the Clarets’ determination not to be a soft touch.
But when the Clarets did go in front with the first meaningful attack of the game there was a real touch of quality about the goal.
Under pressure at one end from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Michael Duff calmly launched the move that ended with Paterson slotting the ball home at the other as Wolves were prised apart.
From Duff’s pass, Jason Shackell helped the ball out to Mee, whose delivery in behind full-back Kevin Foley was perfectly weighted for the on-running Paterson to take in his stride and drive under the advancing Carl Ikeme.
Apart from an effort from Austin, which he couldn’t quite thread through a crowd of legs in the Wolves’ box, there were few other openings for either side as the Clarets comfortably kept the visitors at bay.
But Dyche’s opening half-time pep talk could have been even more upbeat had Marney taken the chance to make it 2-0 four minutes before the break.
Seizing on a mistake from Roger Johnson which left the busy midfielder with a clear run on goal, Marney opted to go it alone rather than square the ball for a colleague and with Ikeme sticking up a glove at the last moment to make
a block probably regretted his decision.
He certainly would have done had Ebanks-Blake slid in a low cross from Bakary Sako from Wolves’ only real threat on goal just 60 seconds later but the striker failed to get a touch as Lee Grant remained a virtual spectator.
Marney’s forward bursts were becoming an increasing feature as the Clarets built on their foothold but tellingly Austin began to make his presence felt at the start of the second half and the result was all too predictable as Burnley doubled their lead.
The striker was allowed two sighters, with his first arrowing just over the bar as he cut in from the right flank and the second cannoning against a defender’s legs after Stock had won possession and set him free.
Having conceded the corner Wolves then switched off and Austin made them pay, giving his marker the slip to head home Wallace’s accurate delivery to score for the fifth home game in succession.
Wolves’ frustration was evident to see as Johnson was lucky to avoid a red card for kicking out at Austin as he lay on the ground, although Austin should have handed out his own punishment with a better finish from a chance in the 62nd-minute as Johnson’s poor clearance played his side into trouble.
Moments before Wolves had hit the post with a thundering bolt out of the blue from Sako and with 17 minutes to go the Clarets were given another reminder that they weren’t quite over the line when Blake missed a great chanced to pull one back with a header from eight yards out.
But there were further chances to add to the lead on the break and substitute Sam Vokes almost added a spectacular third as he thumped a volley just wide against his former club.
And even seven minutes of injury time, added on after Wallace was stretchered off with an oxygen mask to his face after getting a stray arm to the face, gave no succour to a Wolves side which never threatened to spoil a landmark day at Turf Moor.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee, Stock, Edgar, Marney (Stanislas 81), Paterson (Vokes 90), Austin, Wallace (Ings 68). Subs: Long, Stewart, Lafferty, Jensen.
Booked: Wallace 7, Duff 43, Mee 76
Wolves: Ikeme, Ward, Johnson (Edwards 68), Berra, Foley, Pennant (Forde 68), Doumbia, Henry, Ebanks-Blake, Sako, Doyle. Subs: Stearman, Sigurdarson, Batth, Davis, De Vries.
Booked: Johnson 57, Blake 81
Referee: Mark Haywood.