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Southampton 0 Burnley 1

Saints' fan Sam Vokes strikes late to give Clarets another away win

4 November 2017

Southampton fan Sam Vokes ended Burnley’s St Mary’s Stadium hoodoo with a brilliant late winner which lifted the Clarets level on points with a top-four place in the Premier League.

Hometown boy Vokes supported the Saints when he was growing up and had to buy extra tickets to satisfy friends and family.

And it proved a shrewd investment for those wanting to see him do well as the big striker came off the bench to head Sean Dyche’s men to a third away win of the season.

Another immaculate defensive display – backed up by the peerless Nick Pope – again laid the foundations as the Clarets racked up a fourth clean sheet in six games.

And Dyche’s bold substitutions then paid off as Vokes scored his first goal since the opening-day win at Chelsea, which lit the touch-paper to Burnley’s flying start to the season, to send the Clarets’ traveling fans home delirious – again.

Burnley hadn’t won a top-flight game at Southampton in eight previous attempts and last season’s 3-1 defeat just over 12 months ago came at a time when Dyche’s men were struggling to make a mark away from Turf Moor.

Fast forward 12 months, and things could barely be more different with Burnley having previously lost just once on the road.

And that determination not to give any ground was apparent in a first half in which the visitors threw up a claret and blue wall to keep the Saints at bay and then look to pounce on the attack.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson twice cut in to fire efforts wide, while Robbie Brady went close to picking out Chris Wood on the striker’s return to action after missing last Monday night’s win over Newcastle United with a hamstring injury.

But it was largely a containing job in the first 45 minutes as Burnley’s rock-solid back four stood firm again, with the help of Steven Defour and ex-Southampton midfielder Jack Cork doing an excellent screening job in front of them.

Southampton had failed to score in nine of their previous 16 top-flight games and again found clear-cut chances hard to fashion.

But they did get a couple of sights of goal and Pope had to continue the kind of form that earned him a nomination for October’s Premier League Player of the Month award with a couple of smart saves.

First, Pope saved from Sofiane Boufal as he beat away a bouncing volley from the Morocco international and then made an even better stop to keep out a bottom-corner bound drive from dangerman Nathan Redmond three minutes before the break.

Southampton continued to press at the start of the second half and the Clarets were indebted to Pope again when he made another fine save, tipping over a shot from defender Maya Yoshida.

In an effort to reverse the momentum Dyche made a double change by sending on Vokes and Ashley Barnes in place of Wood and Jeff Hendrick in a switch to a 4-4-2 formation to give the home side something new to think about.

And the move almost paid instant dividends as Barnes and Vokes forced Southampton back, Brady releasing Vokes to get in behind the Saints’ back four with the substitute just failing to pick out a team-mate in front of goal.

Brady also saw a shot charged down but Southampton – with ex-Burnley striker Charlie Austin on in place of Manolo Gabbiadini – came back in search of the opening goal with Steven Davis firing an effort just over the bar.

But with just four victories from their last 18 league games, the Saints have found winning difficult.

And with nine minutes to go they found themselves behind as the Clarets struck in stunning style to grab another priceless win.

Vokes had proved himself a real handful and got the goal he craved with a textbook header.

Gudmundsson provided the ammunition with a peach of a cross but Vokes still had plenty to do as he jumped with Yoshida before superbly directing the ball into the bottom corner for his third goal of an increasingly memorable start to the campaign.

Not since the 1973/74 season have the Clarets kicked off a top-flight season in such a productive style.

And even though Liverpool's win on Saturday night pushed Dyche's men down a place to seventh, only goal difference separated the four clubs below Tottenham Hotspur in third place.

Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward, Gudmundsson, Defour, Cork, Brady, Hendrick (Barnes 65), Wood (Vokes 65). Substitutes: Lindegaard, Westwood, Bardsley, Long, Arfield.

Southampton: Forster, Soares, van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand, Romeu, Tadic (Long 76), Redmond, Davis, Boufal (Ward-Prowse 90), Gabbiadini (Austin 65). Substitutes: McCarthy, Hoedt, Ward-Prowse, Hojberg, McQueen.

Referee: Lee Probert

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