Burnley 2 Derby 0
Burnley’s midfield marvels struck in each half to see off in-form Derby and put the Clarets five points clear in second spot.
David Jones put Sean Dyche’s side on the way to an 11th unbeaten league game with a magnificent volleyed finish just before the half hour.
And after the Rams controversially had lone striker Chris Martin sent off for diving just before the break, Dean Marney secured all three points with a poacher’s strike at the three-quarter mark.
The victory, a fourth in five games, completed a whole calendar year unbeaten at Turf Moor for the Clarets.
But more importantly, it opened up clear daylight on the chasing pack ahead of the big East Lancashire derby at Blackburn.
Dyche had the opportunity to name an unchanged side for the seventh successive game.
And in a lively opening, there was nearly the perfect start as Danny Ings homed in on goal in the fifth minute, only to pull his shot wide of Lee Grant’s goal.
The Clarets continued on the front foot, with Scott Arfield and Ings almost combining to set-up the Scot.
Marney’s shot from Kieran Trippier’s reverse pass was then deflected over as the Clarets started where they left off against Derby’s East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest last week.
County were clearly content to sit deep out of possession and put the onus on the Clarets to break down a defence that had registered three successive clean sheets.
And Ings almost unlocked the door in the 27th minute feeding Michael Kightly inside right back Andre Wisdom for the winger to cross and see last-ditch defending deny Sam Vokes.
But the breakthrough deservedly arrived in the 29th minute, again involving Kightly and Ings.
The on-loan Stoke wide man pounced as Wisdom slipped and fed Ings, who in turn flicked the ball on to Jones for a sublime volley that dipped over Grant and bounced in off the crossbar for his first league goal of the season.
And as half time approached, Burnley had a one-man advantage to go with their goal as Martin saw red.
The Derby striker has earlier been booked at third time of asking for an innocuous foul on Trippier, following two earlier skirmishes with Jason Shackell.
And the Rams targetman incurred the wrath of referee Robert Madley a minute before half time, accused of taking a dive in the area as he took Simon Dawkins through ball past Trippier inside the box.
Replays showed the decision was harsh, bur Madley was convinced enough to show Martin a second yellow card that incensed the Rams.
Steve McClaren, who argued his case with the referee at the interval, introduced Connor Sammon at the start of the second half.
And within five minutes the substitute was a whisker away from the equaliser.
The towering striker pounced on a deflection off Ben Mee’s back and drilled a fierce, low shot that took a wicked deflection two wrong-foot Tom Heaton in the centre of goal.
However, the Clarets stopper flung an arm out to take the sting out of the shot, and pounced on the loose ball as it rolled dangerously close to the goal-line.
The sense of injustice had clearly fired the Rams up for the re-start. And on the hour mark Patrick Bamford joined Sammon in attack.
And the Chelsea loanee announced his arrival within minutes with a rising drive form a tightening angle.
Dyche’s reaction was to replace Kightly with Ross Wallace as the Clarets looked to wrestle back the momentum.
And in the 67th minute the lead was doubled following the Clarets’ trademark corner routine.
Michael Duff stepped over Jones’ corner and when Ings’ effort cannoned off two Derby defenders, Marney was on the spot to tap home from inside the six-yard box.
That finally killed off all hopes of a fightback – as the highest crowd inside Turf Moor this season celebrated another impressive victory that maintained the unbeaten start to 2014.
Burnley: Heaton, Trippier, Mee, Shackell, Duff, Marney, Jones, Kightly (Wallace 64), Arfield (Stanislas 87), Vokes, Ings (Barnes 80).
Subs: Cisak, Long, Treacy, Edgar.
Booked: Marney 80, Mee 90
Derby: Grant, Forsyth, Keogh, Hendrick, Martin, Russell (Sammon 46), Eustace (Bryson 72), Hughes, Buxton, Dawkins (Bamford 62), Wisdom.
Subs: Ward, Legzdins, Whitbread, Thorne
Booked: Martin 20, Hughes 48
Sent off: Martin 45
Ref; R Madley
Att: 17,285 (2,853)