Clarets legend Jimmy McIlroy was inducted in to the National Football Museum’s “Hall of Fame” this week alongside the likes of Alan Shearer and Michael Owen.
How Sean Dyche’s side craved the former Northern Ireland international’s clinical edge in the 3-1 Premier League loss to West Ham United at Turf Moor.
On the eve of Sam Allardyce’s 60th birthday, the Hammer’s provided their chief with the perfect gift after surviving an onslaught in the first half.
With the national media becoming forensic in their criticism of Burnley’s goal-scoring capabilities, the hosts reflected such profligacy after spurning a number of openings.
In front of former Manchester United boss David Moyes, who was joined by Alastair Campbell in the luxury of the Bob Lord Stand, the Clarets huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow the away side’s house down.
Man of the match George Boyd went agonisingly close to the opener when inventively cushioning the ball over Mark Noble’s head from Kieran Trippier’s pass and firing a sweet left-footed volley against the bar - the same spot that denied David Jones in the goalless draw against Manchester United.
Dyche welcomed back last season’s top scorer Danny Ings for the fixture after the striker recovered from a hamstring injury, and the 22-year-old strolled past Alex Song and James Collins with tremendous ease only to be denied by Adrian’s hand as he shaped an effort towards the corner. Team-mate Lukas Jutkiewicz was then denied his first goal of the season when straying a yard offside to tap home the rebound.
The Clarets continued to take command; Jutkiewicz towered above Collins to meet Trippier’s centre but flicked the header wide while Adrian pushed Michael Kightly’s free-kick to safety with defender Michael Duff on the prowl a the back post.
With the hosts pressing, the quality within the Hammers XI was always capable of threatening on the break. Winger Stewart Downing was the individual that provided a moment of genius with an impeccable diagonal pass that stretched Burnley’s backline before Aaron Cresswell guided the ball in to the six-yard box where Diafra Sakho headed wide.
Once Jutkiewicz again headed wide after beating Collins in the air from Boyd’s cross, Downing posed the threat when cutting inside past Jason Shackell and fizzing an effort across Tom Heaton that clipped the far post.
Burnley’s momentum continued to trouble the Hammers, though. Their first half display was crisp, inventive and instinctive. It was a display that conveyed that the club is fully deserving of a place in the Premier League.
Another penetrative move saw Trippier and Scott Arfield combine to free Boyd but the former Tiger’s decision making was the downfall on this occasion. Boyd attempted to slide a pass ahead of Jutkiewicz at the far post with Ings perfectly poised unmarked on the penalty spot.
And then Arfield found the West Ham fans housed within the David Fishwick Stand with a wayward effort that marked the close of the opening 45 minutes.
The home side’s profligacy was punished early in the second half, however. Within five minutes of the restart Cresswell’s expert delivery was nodded in to the corner by Sakho who out-jumped Duff to score his sixth goal in as many games.
The advantage was doubled in the 54th when Carl Jenkinson provided the assist from the opposite flank and £12m striker Enner Valencia infiltrated the space between Duff and Trippier to power a header beyond Heaton.
And the visitors could’ve added a third on the hour with Burnley’s rearguard in disarray. From Morgan Amalfitano’s set-piece substitute Carlton Cole, who had earlier replaced Valencia, saw his header hooked off the line by Trippier.
The Clarets needed a response, and they got one just moments after Trippier’s heroics. Ings’ run forced the corner, Kightly took the kick, Adrian spilled and Boyd hammered home for his first goal for the club.
Then Ings almost provided the perfect response when glancing a header just wide of the upright from Trippier’s centre. Adrian was troubled as he plunged to his right hand post.
Dyche then opted to replace Jutkiewicz with Ashley Barnes in the 65th minute, but five minutes later it was the away side who found the net again. The calamitous defending from set-pieces that brought a heavy defeat against West Brom was repeated, and Cole nodded home ahead of Heaton from Sakho’s assist.
Downing’s stinging drive then whistled past Heaton’s upright, while Barnes turned Trippier’s cross on to the bar in the closing stages.
The Clarets will now seek their first win of the campaign at the ninth time of asking when Everton are the visitors to Turf Moor next Sunday.