Burnley 0 Huddersfield T 1
With only one win in 17 Championship games and no victory at Turf Moor since 1972, Huddersfield might have been hand-picked for opponents to try and beat to end a five-match winless streak which has de-railed Burnley’s season.
But with the Clarets short of goals and, seemingly confidence, they failed to take advantage as the lowest scorers in the division helped themselves to the points with a 55th-minute James Vaughan goal which gave Mark Robins his first win as manager and eased Town’s concerns near the foot of the table.
Burnley’s failure to find the net for a third game running was the obvious short-coming for Sean Dyche’s side as the manager tried a handful of permutations to try initially to seize the initiative and then to look to avoid a fifth home defeat of the campaign.
But with a spark lacking in other areas as well, the Clarets need to find a quick pick-me-up from somewhere to stop their slide down the table with a dozen games to go.
The return of Danny Ings to the Clarets’ starting line-up following an impressive substitute’s appearance at Brighton last Saturday was the only change Dyche made to try and rediscover the winning formula.
But 15 minutes in he was forced to tweak his line-up further when Dean Marney picked up a knock, giving Dane Richards the chance to make a home debut on the right wing with Ings moving inside to support Charlie Austin.
Ings was Burnley’s brightest spark in a tepid opening in which Huddersfield showed they had not just come to defend to halt an alarming run of away form in the Championship, which had seen them leak 19 goals in their previous four games.
Sean Scannell was lively on the break for the Terriers but more often than not he found Kieran Trippier too tough an obstacle to pass.
And with 22 minutes gone the Clarets registered a first serious effort on target when Keith Treacy let fly with a shot on the turn from 25 yards which had Alex Smithies scrambling to save low to his right.
Treacy did his best to get Burnley going with some tricky footwork as Town began to retreat into their shells but not for the first time in recent games the Clarets struggled to break through a stubborn back line.
Austin’s frustration was summed up by a hopeful long-range effort which soared over the bar but a minute before half time had the chance that fell to Ings gone the way of the Clarets’ top scorer, Burnley might have led at the break.
Treacy had first bite at the cherry with a shot which was blocked and when the ball spun for Ings, he should have done better than mis-cue an attempted finish from six yards out which looped tamely wide of the target as Burnley’s wait for a goal went on.
Not since David Edgar’s headed goal had the Clarets found the net but four minutes into the second half they could have broken the spell.
Calum Woods’ slip allowed Austin to reach Treacy’s through-ball but rather than steer the ball into the far corner of the net, his chipped effort beat the post and the on-rushing Richards.
And that missed opportunity proved costly six minutes later when the Terriers went ahead.
Burnley were guilty of not clearing the ball when they had the chance and after working an opening Adam Clayton fired in a shot which Lee Grant failed to stop, leaving Vaughan to help the ball over the line for his seventh goal of the season.
Faced with the need to try and find two goals to secure a first home win in three attempts, Dyche ended Richards’ night with Ings going back wide to try and supply the ammunition for substitute Sam Vokes.
Marvin Bartley was then sent on in the final throw of the dice from Dyche and with 20 minutes to go Bartley almost provided the Clarets with a lifeline with a cross for Vokes which the striker directed against the bar with a glancing header.
Vokes’ aerial presence usually adds to Burnley’s threat and moments later he headed down for Austin but at full stretch he couldn’t get his attempted volley on target.
Vokes also poked a shot just wide following a corner but sadly for the Clarets – bar an injury time opening for Ings snuffed out by Smithies – that was it in an attempted fightback that never really got off the ground.
And it was Town that went closest to a second goal with Robinson twice catching Burnley out on the break as the Clarets were forced to commit men forward.
The on-loan Derby striker was full of running but unfortunately for the visitors lacked the finishing to match as he failed to take two decent chances which would have made the four minutes of added time even more comfortable for his side.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Lafferty, Shackell, Long, Stock, Marney (Richards 15 (Vokes 60)), McCann (Bartley 63), Austin, Ings, Treacy. Subs: Paterson, Edgar, Stanislas, Jensen.
Booked: Stock 45, Austin 61, Trippier 75
Huddersfield: Smithies, Dixon, Gerrard, P Clarke, Woods, Gobern (Arfield 39), Danns, Scannell, Clayton, Robinson, Vaughan (Novak 85). Subs: Norwood, Lee, Hunt, Lynch, Bennett.
Booked: Gerrard 3, Clayton 79, Arfield 90
Referee: Mark Halsey
Attendance: 11,266 (757 Huddersfield)