PHOTOS: Burnley 1 Birmingham City 3

CLARETS boss Eddie Howe claimed his side didn't deserve to lose 3-1 at home to Birmingham.

And in hindsight he was probably correct as the visitors managed just five attempts on target. However, the Clarets were the perpetrators of their own downfall and were to blame for each goal conceded.

Danny Ings reflects on a near miss.

Danny Ings reflects on a near miss.

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Chris Hughton's side had control of the first half, working well as a unit and appearing more methodical and organised. The away side invited the Clarets to play the ball along the back but refused to let anything go through them with holding men Guirane N'Daw and Jordon Mutch sweeping everything up that came their way before mounting the break.

The hosts had no answer for their opponent's efficiency, struggling to impact on the fixture with an absence of zip, penetration or precision. As frustration boiled over the Clarets opted instead to hit the weekend's hat-trick hero Charlie Austin with long balls, often without success.

The deadlock was broken in the 11th minute, courtesy of goalkeeper Lee Grant's mishap. David Murphy's long throw towards the angle of the penalty area was glanced in to the path of Marlon King by Nikola Zigic and the striker turned David Edgar before firing beyond Grant. Replays indicated that Grant himself put the ball in to his own net as the ball ricocheted over the line off his back.

The home side continued to falter, unable to react to the opener, and even when there was an option the Clarets failed to time their runs. Josh McQuoid, Chris McCann and Austin all guilty of being too eager when well-positioned. The hosts couldn't break the visitors down, struggled to play through them and the away side, equipped with former Clarets Steven Caldwell and Wade Elliott, were happy to nulify any attacking threat and play on the break.

Neither side was able to force a clear opening in an uninspiring first half; the only other opportunity of note in an unimaginative opening 45 minutes came as Edgar headed wide after Kieran Trippier's corner found the defender unmarked on the penalty spot.

After the break Howe's side continued to stutter, mainly due to the shape. With Wallace at left-back and McCann essentially a left-sided midfielder they seemingly lacked the necessary bite. And it could have been 2-0 when Chris Burke caught Edgar out high up the pitch and freed King, only for Michael Duff to make a vital challenge as the marksman pulled the trigger inside the area.

The atmosphere and the tempo altered slightly once Boaz Myhill nervously beat away Danny Ings's stinging drive and that was intensified with the introduction of Junior Stanislas, who replaced Dean Marney. The winger's introduction brought a directness, purpose and energy to Burnley's play though, ironically, they would go on to ship two more goals.

Stanislas was involved immediately, forcing Myhill to rush his clearance as he stormed on to a through pass and, with the keeper stranded, Austin volleyed goalwards only for Curtis Davies to clear off the line. From the resulting corner Edgar headed straight at Myhill.

After that the home side should have been level, but incredibly they were unable to benefit from the clearest opening of the game. Again Stanislas was involved as Ings thumped his effort on to the underside of the bar from the substitute's squared pass and from the rebound Austin found the woodwork with a header.

But the leveller did arrive and Ings made amends for his profligacy moments earlier. Stanislas rolled the ball back for Wallace and his whipped cross was ferociously headed past a helpless Myhill by Ings. However, similar to recent weeks, notably games against West Ham and Pompey, the Clarets conceded almost immediately.

After Zigic had sliced wide, Brum broke again and Mutch found himself in acres of space on the edge of the six-yard box to convert Burke's centre, side-footing beyond Grant and in to the top corner. Birmingham then scored their third with another error from Grant. The goalkeeper could only parry Mutch's cross timidly in to the path of Murphy who drilled home to make it 3-1.

Before referee Jock Waugh's final whistle there was still time for Ings to hold his head in his hands with another glaring miss. Austin peeled off City's rearguard, breaching the offside trap, to latch on to Stanislas's floated, diagonal pass but as the ball broke to his strike partner he blazed over from close range.

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