EDDIE Howe was just happy to come away with the points after a quite bizarre game at Brighton.
Burnley played against nine men for the best part of 80 minutes, as Romain Vincelot and Ashley Barnes were sent off, but the Clarets only had Kieran Trippier’s 20-yard strike to show for their numerical superiority.
And it could have been worse, as David Edgar cleared Craig Mackail-Smith’s shot off the line at the death.
Howe said: “It was a strange game. A really strange game.
“The sendings-off should make the game easier for us, but with how Brighton defended, and the bodies got between us and the goal, it made it difficult.
“Full credit to them for that, because I thought they defended excellently really.
“While it was 1-0 it was always going to be a nervy finish, because we knew Brighton would go for it.
“I didn’t enjoy the last five minutes. Prior to that, I thought we did what we needed to do, but we’d have loved the second goal to kill the game.
“I can’t repeat what I was thinking. We knew it was going to be a difficult five minutes because Brighton had done well to keep it at 1-0 and pushed bodies forward, which we expected, and we just didn’t want to sit deep and give them an opportunity.
“We did that. Our defensive line wasn’t great at the end. With the game as it had gone, the natural reaction – as much as you tell them not to – is to drop deep and protect what you have.
“We’d worked so hard up until that point, I think the lads were just keen to see the 1-0 out, and that’s when you can give yourself more problems by dropping deep.
“We did that, and Granty made a good save for us, and David Edgar cleared the rest up off the line.
“I think they were always going to get a chance, but thankfully they didn’t score.”
Many people missed the first incident involving Vincelot and Marvin Bartley off the ball, and Howe was one of them: “I honestly didn’t see the incident.
“I saw the second one, but from my view it was difficult to tell. The first one I didn’t see at all.
“Jason (Tindall) next to me said there was a clear punch, and the fourth official must have had the same view that he had.
“I didn’t see it, so I can’t comment.
“The fourth official saw it with his own eyes. There’s no way that Jason’s going to make the fourth official alert the referee. That’s not how football works.”
Brighton boss Gus Poyet left the arena for a cooling period, as Brighton raged at the decisions, but Howe was the coolest man in the ground, focused on his team, and his job, and he said: “The Brighton players were obviously not happy, and their bench weren’t happy, and it made for a really disjointed first half.
“At half-time we tried to tell the lads to keep their heads, because that was the main thing from our point of view – not to get anything evened up or give the referee chance to give Brighton something, because the crowd did stick with Brighton. I thought they were excellent.
“I didn’t actually see Gus. I got told that he’d gone in. I might have joined him if I’d known.
“What was going through my head was how can we make it as difficult for Brighton as we can with the two-man advantage.
“Various things were going through my mind – do we change things tactically, do we change personnel?
“In the end, we decided to review it at half-time, and that’s when we made one change. We were getting a lot of crosses into the box, and we wanted to get Sam’s height and presence in there to get the second goal, because I think that would have killed the game dead.
“No matter how hard we tried, it just wouldn’t fall for us in the penalty area.”