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Match Reports

Burnley 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Clarets secure vital win to mark manager's 300th game

30 March 2019

Just like he did in his first game as Burnley boss, Sean Dyche master-minded a 2-0 win over Wolves.

There have been numerous high points in between that day in November, 2012 and Dyche's 300th game in charge.

But the importance of this result will rank fairly highly on his list of achievements as Dyche’s side ended a run of four successive Premier League losses with a victory that lifted them five points clear of the relegation places and earned valuable breathing space in the relegation scrap.

It wasn’t a classic performance as Burnley battened down the hatches in the second half as they sought to protect the early lead given them by Conor Coady’s own-goal.

But once again, just when it was needed, the Clarets passed a major test of character as they held their nerve to repel the FA Cup semi-finalists with only a second clean sheet in the league since the turn of the year.

And then to cap a superb defensive performance and bring some symmetry to the occasion, man-of-the-moment Dwight McNeil added a classy second goal to secure the victory that brings safety a step closer and make it a happy anniversary for the manager.

In a game of such magnitude, the Clarets couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Burnley hadn’t beaten Wolves in a top-flight fixture at Turf Moor since 1963, but this was all about the here and now and within two minutes the Clarets were in front.

McNeil, fresh from his first involvement in the England set-up and debut Under-20 cap, delivered a perfectly flighted free-kick which found Chris Wood on the move.

The striker’s first touch took him around goalkeeper Rui Patricio and although Wood’s effort then hit a post, Wolves captain Coady could only bundle the ball into the net to lodge his third own-goal of the season.

That was hardly the prelude for a barn-storming display, but the Clarets – with Jeff Hendrick back on starting duty in place of Johann Berg Gudmundsson – had a measure of control they were determined not to release.

Wolves, chasing the seventh-placed finish that gave Burnley a route to Europe last season, were never allowed to get into their expansive stride as Clarets’ keeper Tom Heaton spent most of the first half as a spectator – bar one dash of his line to take the ball off the toes of Dioga Jota.

But two minutes after the re-start, Jota flashed a cross-shot just beyond the far post as a reminder that the Clarets still had work to do and Ivan Cavaleiro then missed the visitors’ best chance when he blasted the ball over from Leander Dendoncker’s pull-back.

Cavaleiro was then replaced by top scorer Raul Jimenez as Wolves – juggling their resources ahead of a week involving games against Manchester United and Watford in the FA Cup's last four – looked to make their growing pressure count.

Heaton did finally have a save to make as he easily held a far-post header from Jonny but the Clarets, through a combination of concentration and dogged determination, kept the Wolves at bay.

And then with a quarter of an hour to go, McNeil lifted the pressure, calmed the nerves and secured the points with a piece of individual brilliance.

James Tarkowski - having just made a vital block in front of his own goal - powered a headed clearance to the teenager in space 40 yards from goal with room to run into.

There was only one thing on McNeil's mind as he advanced into the penalty area, weighing up his options and feigning to shoot to commit at least one of the Old Gold shirts trying to closing him down. 

Then, having opened up a route to goal, he drilled a perfectly angled left-foot shot skidding across an unsighted Patricio and into the far corner to make it two goals in two games for the Clarets’ new shining light.

Seven minutes later he left the stage to a standing ovation to be replaced by Gudmundsson, sufficiently recovered from a calf strain sustained on international duty to contribute from the bench.

And while this was arguably Dyche’s day,  McNeil and his team-mates deserved their share of the plaudits as they took a step closer to getting the job done.

Burnley: Heaton; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil (Gudmundsson 86); Barnes, Wood. Substitutes: Lowton, Brady, Gibson, Hart, Ward, Vydra.

Booked: McNeil

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio; Saiss, Coady, Boly, Traore (Helder Costa 72), Dendoncker (Doherty 59), Neves, Joao Moutinho, Jonny, Ivan Cavaleiro (Jimenez 59), Jota. Substitutes: Gibbs-White, Ruddy, Ruben Vinagre, Kilman.

Booked: Ruben Neves

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Attendance: 20,990

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