Brian McDermott took his record to six managerial wins in as many games against the Clarets to send them crashing towards the wrong end of the Championship table.
Prior to kick-off news filtered through of leading scorer Charlie Austin’s absence for the trans-Pennine derby at Elland Road after having surgery to have his appendix removed, which will expectedly keep him out of contention for the remainder of the season.
And in a cruel twist of fate it was United’s Rudolph Austin that scored the match winner just after the hour when converting El-Hadji Diouf’s clipped pass in to the box.
It was another below par performance from the Clarets who lacked guile and intensity. Similarly to the weekend defeat at Bloomfield Road, Sean Dyche’s side started slowly, had a couple of shots on goal, conceded after the break and offered very little in the second half.
Now, with results going against them, the Clarets find themselves embroiled in a battle for survival with just three points separating them from Huddersfield who are 22nd in the division.
Despite United’s dominance in the first half they failed to beat Lee Grant as the sides went in goalless at the interval.
McDermott’s side worked the extra midfielder well, exploiting the space and moving the ball swiftly as they opened the away side up in the centre of the park.
But for all United’s possession they rarely found that moment of quality in front of goal to punish the Clarets. In a pedestrian, uninspiring start to the fixture Chris McCann bent an effort from the edge of the box over the angle as space opened up in front of him.
The hosts pressed through Diouf down the right who was ably supported by Austin and Sam Byram with the pair working the overlap effectively. However, it was Michael Tonge down the left who created their first opening as he carved open the Clarets rearguard, charging in to the area and pulling back a pass across the six-yard box from the by-line towards Ross McCormack but defender Kevin Long reacted instinctively to clear.
In United’s next attack McCormack sliced wide of the target from 20 yards and after the half-hour both Tonge and Luke Varney were denied in quick succession. Captain Stephen Warnock skipped past Alex Kacaniklic and clipped a centre to the back post where Tonge saw his header cleared off the line by Jason Shackell before Varney headed the rebound against the bar.
In a bid to match their opponents up, Sean Dyche made a tactical change and switched Martin Paterson to the right while pulling Ross Wallace in to a central role.
And it was the Scot who went closest to breaking the deadlock for the Clarets when his 20-yard strike had Paddy Kenny beaten but the effort whistled past the post. Paterson then found the side-netting as the half came to a close after latching on to Dean Marney’s stabbed pass in to the penalty area.
The hosts continued to exert themselves on the game in the second half and penned the Clarets in, proving to slick and inventive for their opponents going forward.
Luke Varney almost touched the hosts in to the lead when getting a slight nick on Diouf’s squared pass when at full stretch and unmarked from close range before being denied by a superb reaction save from Lee Grant when heading McCormack’s set-piece goalwards.
United continued to stretch the Clarets while their pace and craft was causing problems down the flanks. Diouf, Tonge and Warnock sprung a penetrative, triangular passage down the left before the latter’s centre forced Shackell to head from underneath his crossbar when under pressure from Varney.
Eventually the pressure paid off as Austin scored in the 63rd minute. Diouf’s clever control drew breath from the crowd and the Senegalese forward cut in before clipping a delicate pass over Shackell and in to the path of Austin who guided the ball first time beyond Grant.
Dyche made changes in a bid to alter the pattern of the game and though substitute Danny Ings added energy to a mundane display, the Clarets continued to fall flat in the final third - failing to register a shot on target.
McCann benefitted from a lucky ricochet before stroking an effort wide of the post from the edge of the 18-yard box and Ings volleyed wide following a storming run from Shackell.
But after McCormack’s free-kick flashed across Grant and wide of the post, United held firm to sink the Clarets in to trouble.