Burnley boss is happy to get back on top of the table

Sean Dyche was delighted to return to the top of the Championship, but bemused his side has supposedly been through a “mini-slump”.
Star turn: Michael Kightly fires a dangerous ball into the Barnsley penalty areaStar turn: Michael Kightly fires a dangerous ball into the Barnsley penalty area
Star turn: Michael Kightly fires a dangerous ball into the Barnsley penalty area

After leading the table for two months, a first defeat in 13 league games at Huddersfield Town last Saturday saw Leicester City take over.

A goal-less draw with Watford followed in midweek, a fifth league game without a win.

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But after Michael Kightly’s fabulous strike earned a 1-0 win over bottom side Barnsley on Saturday, Dyche had a wry smile: “Apparently ‘mini slump’ is the shout. It’s an interesting one that, a ‘mini slump’ on the back of going from first to third and back to first, for Burnley Football Club.

“Wow, that’s a tale in itself!”

Dyche has spoken often of finding different ways to win games, and this was another example when not quite at their best.

And he added: “When we’re playing the football we want to play, we know that we’re a match for anyone, we know that we can win and we’ve had some very good results.

“There are other times when you have to find a way to win, and in the first half, actually, it wasn’t finding a way to win, it was finding a way to be solid and stay in the game when the opposition are playing well.

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“We know we have goals in us and we know we can open up the opposition, it’s important we keep that framework.

“That’s vital in games where you’re not playing as well, as we were first half. Second half we believe in what we do, we believe in the players.

“Second half it was finding a way to win because we were mostly dominant, not totally, but mostly dominant.

“It was finding that moment of quality.”

Kightly certainly provided that, cutting onto his left foot and lashing the ball into the top corner from just inside the area.

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And Dyche continued: “It was a marvellous moment of quality in a tough game.

“You are always looking for that moment of quality and that was found by Michael Kightly.

“It was a fantastic goal, great awareness from him and a lovely finish.

“I think Kights has had an interesting journey with us so far.

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“He’s had some real highs, against QPR I thought he was absolutely outstanding, he’s had a couple of quiet ones and we gave him a rest in the week to see if he would respond to that and I thought he did.

“His all round performance was very good, and it was a fantastic goal.”

Barnsley dominated possession in the first half, as they look to find a way out of trouble at the bottom of the table.

And Dyche said: “I said to the lads afterwards the hardest fight you’ll ever have is one against someone with nothing to lose.

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“Barnsley had nothing to lose and they played like it in the first half, they played with absolute freedom that comes with: ‘What’s the worst that can happen, we get beat at Burnley, a team that are flying? And what’s the best that can happen, we upset the applecart.’

“That’s the toughest fight of all and I thought the lads overall did enough to win the game.

“They were the better side in the first half and kept the ball better with that freedom, but only once did we look in trouble in the half.

“The defensive framework was very good again to get another clean sheet.

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“There was one really good pass and good bit of play from their point of view and Tom Heaton made a great save.

“Other than that, I don’t think Heats has had a save to make.

“We like that habit, 10 clean sheets in all competitions so far, and a nice base for the team to work from.

“I thought we were dominant in the second half and got back on the front foot.

“We gave then a little reminder at half-time of how good they can be and I was pleased with the response in the second half.”