Clarets crash in Welsh capitalThe Midas touch of caretaker manager Terry Pashley finally deserted him as the Clarets became high flying Cardiff’s latest victims in the Welsh capital.
After successive victories under Pashley’s charge, Burnley must have harboured hopes of ending City’s club record six-match winning home run since the start of the season.
But the spark that had helped them overcome the loss of Eddie Howe as manager was never in evidence as they crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season.
Two goals in each half were enough for a slick City side to rubber stamp their promotion credentials as they moved back to the top of the table.
By contrast, Burnley, wearing black armbands in memory of club great John Connelly who died on Thursday, were given a painful reality check as they await the arrival of a new manager whose first job will be to stop the flow of goals that threatens to halt their progress.
With Ben Mee suspended and badly missed, Pashley was forced to make one change from the side that had extended his winning start in mind-week with Joseph Mills returning at left back.
And the Clarets’ re-shuffled back four had barely had time to find its bearings when they were breached in disappointing fashion.
Cardiff turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye after Burnley had lost possession on the edge of the City penalty area.
Joe Mason fires Cardiff in front
With the visitors short-handed at the back, the ball was transferred wide to the dangerous Craig Noone for the former Southport winger to cut in and crack a left-footed shot against the inside of a post.
The rebound fell perfectly for Joe Mason and the young striker showed admirable poise to take his time before completing a rudimentary finish.
With a 100 per cent home record behind them Cardiff couldn’t have asked for a better start and Burnley were in danger of being over-run as they struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
Charlie Austin was given scant service as he looked to set a new Burnley record of scoring in nine successive games, although the striker almost made something out of nothing when he managed to hook a shot towards goal from Kieran Trippier’s diagonal ball with 20 minutes gone.
But the country’s leading scorer was a fairly lonely figure in attack and when an attempted pass from Jason Shackell failed to find him, Cardiff almost broke clear to double their lead.
A clearance from Ben Turner found Mason between Burnley’s central defenders and faced with just Lee Grant to beat he drove his low shot against the foot of a post to let the Clarets off the hook.
It turned out to be only a temporary reprieve, though, as the Clarets failed to make it to half time just one goal adrift.
Craig Noone makes it 2-0
Noone had looked a threat all afternoon and shouldn’t have been given the helping hand he was to claim his second goal since a summer move from Brighton.
Shackell put Chris McCann in trouble with an ill-judged ball from the back and when McCann lost possession, Noone strode forward and let fly with a 25-yard drive which Grant parried but couldn’t prevent from dropping over the line to leave Pashley with his toughest half-time team talk yet.
Not surprisingly, Pashley made a change with Wales international Sam Vokes replacing Junior Stanislas and within two minutes of the re-start the Clarets were almost back in the game.
Despite a change in personnel the corner routine which has been so potent was wheeled out again as Michael Duff dummied the delivery from Mills, allowing Austin to connect with a shot which had goal written all over it before it hit a Cardiff boot and looped just wide.
The Clarets desperately needed the next goal but after the visitors’ brief rally it was Cardiff who came closest to adding to their tally as big defender Ben Turner headed just wide following another lovely piece of play by Peter Whittingham and Noone curled an effort against the bar.
The home side always looked comfortable with their two-goal cushion, although the presence of Vokes did give Burnley more of a threat and when he was found by fellow substitute Danny Ings the big striker forced David Marshall into his first save of the afternoon low to his left with 14 minutes to go.
Matthew Connolly heads home City's third
But any prospect of a late fightback was killed off with two goals in the last eight minutes as Cardiff clinically finished off an impressive day’s work.
Defender Matthew Connolly helped himself by heading in a far-post corner and substitute Aron Gunnarsson wrapped things up as he latched onto a knock-down from Rudy Gestede to steer the ball past Grant with virtually his first touch.
Vokes almost got the goal his efforts warranted in injury time but even then a fine reflex save from Marshall kept out his deflection from an Austin shot on a chastening afternoon for the Clarets.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Mills, Duff, Shackell, Stock (Stewart 78), Marney, McCann, Stanislas, Austin, Paterson (Ings 73). Subs: Lafferty, O’Neill, Edgar, Jensen.
Booked: Mills 53
Cardiff City: Marshall, Taylor, Hudson, Turner, Connolly, Kim (Gunnarsson 78), Whittingham, Cowie, Noone (Frei 82), Helguson (Gestede 64), Mason. Subs: McNaughton, Conway, Kiss, Lewis.
Referee: Nigel Miller