Leeds 1 Burnley 0
CHARLIE Austin stole the pre-match headlines, but it was namesake Rudolph who eased Leeds’ relegation worries and left Burnley nervously looking over their shoulders.
The Clarets were reeling beforehand with the news their 28-goal striker was forced to undergo surgery earlier in the day to remove his appendix.
And defeat away to United hardly helped the nerves in the Burnley camp as Rudolph Austin’s 63rd minute strike saw Sean Dyche’s men slip to within three points of the dreaded relegation zone that had previously seemed at arms’ length.
The claret and blue Austin complained of feeling unwell ahead of training on Monday and had an operation on Tuesday morning, which went successfully.
That left the Clarets a striker light, with Martin Paterson getting the nod ahead of Danny Ings to partner Sam Vokes.
The only other change saw Alex Kacaniklic, who had suffered a virus that kept him sidelined from the weekend defeat to Blackpool, replacing Junior Stanislas in the starting 11.
And the Swede was involved in a bright start by the visitors, who immediately went on the front foot, seeing his 18-yard effort deflected for a corner.
Chris McCann was then given space to advance across the 18-yard line and curl a right-footer over the angle.
But Leeds slowly found their feet and it took a timely intervention from skipper Jason Shackell to clear after Ross McCormack was allowed time to cut in from the left by-line.
That led to a spell of pressure from the hosts that brought four successive corners, the last of which bobbled nervously across the six-yard box with no white shirt on hand to convert.
McCormack, so often the Clarets’ nemesis then fired wide from distance midway through the half as the hosts looked to turn large swathes of possession into something tangible.
The first half die was cast, with Leeds constantly probing to find an opening against a resolute Clarets defence.
And as the interval approached and Burnley grew in confidence, they carved out the two best openings of the half.
First Ross Wallace picked his spot from 25 yards and drilled a daisy-cutter just wide of Paddy Kenny’s left hand post.
And seconds later, as Marney toe-poked a pass inside the right channel, Paterson was first to react and fire a rising drive into the side netting.
The Clarets were forced into a reshuffle seconds before the break, with Ben Mee replaced by Danny Lafferty.
And the Irish left back had a baptism of fire just 16 seconds into the second half when Leeds caught the Clarets cold straight from the kick off.
Luke Varney was completely unmarked in the six-yard box when El-Hadji Diouf crossed from the right, but somehow failed to get a firm enough connection and Burney breathed a sigh of relief.
The former Crewe striker almost made amends within five minutes, meeting a deep cross at the far post with a firm header that Lee Grant tipped over superbly.
Such was Leeds’ early dominance that Dyche wasted no time making a second change, replacing Paterson with Junior Stanislas.
But 62 minutes into the game Leeds finally broke the deadlock.
Diouf’s outrageous piece of control on the left flank was the catalyst and from his perfectly flighted ball, Rudolph Austin had the simplest of tasks to slot past Grant from 10 yards.
That led to the introduction of Danny Ings for Wallace, and Burnley suddenly sensed the urgency.
Ings and Stanislas were both instrumental in the move upfield and cross the box that eventually saw Chris McCann curl an 18-yard effort just wide with 14 minutes remaining.
Ings then volleyed agonisingly wide from 12 yards following good work by Kacaniklic, but the danger of a second goal for the hosts was still evident and McCormack had hearts in mouths with a curling free kick that flew just wide.
But despite pushing forward in the closing stages, the Clarets couldn’t fine the clear-cut chance that would have earned a precious point.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Long, Shackell, Mee (Lafferty 45), Wallace (Ings 66), Marney, McCann, Kacaniklic, Paterson (Stanislas 54), Vokes
Subs: Jensen, Bartley, Edgar, Stock
Booked: Mee 13, Paterson 40, Marney 83, Shackell 90
Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Tonge, Austin, Green, Diouf, McCormack (Somma 85), Varney
Subs: Ashdown, Drury, White, Habibou, Poleon, Hall
Booked: Byram 9, Varney 86
Ref: F Graham