Cometh the hour, cometh the man...
In a tough week for the town, local lad Jay Rodriguez delivered the perfect antidote with a winning goal and 50th of his Burnley career.
Rodriguez had eloquently joined the Clarets’ support for their equality call behind the Black Lives Movement which had been hijacked in Burnley’s return from lockdown on the night they were beaten 5-0 at Manchester City.
And this time he allowed his boots – or more accurately his head – to do the talking with a superb 73rd-minute winner which got the Clarets post-shutdown campaign moving and lifted them past the 40-point mark.
Rodriguez’s goal – his ninth of the season – delightfully steered in from Dwight McNeil’s pin-point cross also extended Burnley’s unbeaten home league run which stretches back to New Year’s Day.
And it also underlined the collective spirit in the Clarets’ camp as they battled through a testing second half to help Nick Pope collect a 12th clean sheet of the campaign in an historic night at a near empty Turf Moor.
The Clarets were unchanged from the side that started out at City but had a full bench as Phil Bardsley returned to the squad after signing a new deal and young midfielder Mace Goodridge was also fit enough to be included.
But despite the same personnel, Burnley looked a different proposition back on their own territory and facing a side at a different end of the table.
In sweltering conditions towards the end of the hottest day of the year, Dyche’s men needed no warming up and were unfortunate not to see an impressive start yield some reward.
Ashley Westwood enjoyed a terrific opening 45 minutes and from his lovely ball around the corner with just over five minutes gone Rodriguez brought a sharp save out of Ben Foster with an angled volley which almost dipped under the former England man.
McNeil then curled over a delightful cross which Josh Brownhill headed wide when a goal on his first home start must have flashed through his eyes before Foster was less troubled by a tame finish from Rodriguez.
Watford, outside the bottom three but having lost some momentum before the shutdown, were getting little joy at the other end – bar a threat from set-pieces – and survived a major let-off just before the mid-half drinks break.
Ben Mee’s nicely lofted ball from the back allowed Matej Vydra to spin behind the Watford defence. With Foster committed, an angled lob from the former Watford forward struck the foot of a post and from the rebound Rodriguez was denied only by Craig Dawson’s goalline clearance.
Even then, the ball was recycled for Brownhill but the midfielder screwed his effort wide as the Clarets – off target again in stoppage time when McNeil fired wide – had to settle for parity at the break.
Watford made a double change and a tweak to their formation at the start of the second half and began more purposely, Will Hughes cutting in to send a left-footer not too far wide as the Clarets were forced onto the back foot.
There was a further scare when Nick Pope spilled a corner but reacted quickly to block the follow-up from one of the substitutes, Craig Cathcart, before James Tarkowski produced a magnificent tackle to thwart Danny Welbeck just as he looked to square up the Clarets’ keeper.
Watford kept coming, though, and with the second-half drinks on the way it was Burnley’s turn to clear off the line, McNeil doing the honours to block a header from Troy Deeney.
The Clarets hadn’t regained their earlier spark but with less than 20 minutes to go they produced a moment of quality to take the lead.
Rodriguez had spurned a shooting chance moments earlier but this time he had only one thing in his mind with a superb near-post run to meet McNeil’s perfectly delivered cross with a diving header he glanced across Foster and into the far corner after Brownhill had done well to free McNeil.
Vydra then had the chance to double the lead when birthday boy Jack Cork released him on the break.
The Czech international cut inside but saw his effort blocked by Foster’s legs, meaning the Clarets had to stay switched on to the end, repelling anything Watford could throw at them in their quest to stay clear of the bottom three.
To a man the Clarets stood tall to deliver the perfect end to a testing few days.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Rodriguez (Pieters 80), Vydra. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Jensen, Bardsley, Long, Thompson, Dunne, Thomas, Goodridge.
Watford: Foster; Femenia, Dawson, Kabasele (Cathcart HT), Masina; Sarr, Capoue, Hughes (Chalobah 82), Cleverley (Doucoure HT); Welbeck, Deeney (Gray 84). Substitutes: Gomes, Mariappa, Pedro, Pussetto, Pereyra.
Referee: Mike Dean