A BRACE from skipper Chris McCann capped Burnley's demolition of Ipswich Town on manager Eddie Howe's birthday.
The Clarets were slow out of the blocks but they weren't helped by the driving wind and rain which pinned them back for the opening 10 minutes. However, when Howe's men found their stride they were dominant and far too classy for their Suffolk opponents.
The visitors weren't helped by their narrow, diamond formation employed by manager Paul Jewell which presented the hosts with ample space down the flanks; a freedom they would gratefully exploit.
McCann was involved early on and just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark his tenacity saw him rewarded with possession in the middle of the park; Sam Vokes then helped the ball on to strike partner Jay Rodriguez whose 30-yard piledriver towards the bottom corner was tipped around the post by Arran Lee-Barrett. And from the resulting corner, taken by Junior Stanislas, David Edgar was lurking at the back post but he failed to scoop the ball in to the back of the net.
Rodriguez was then denied by a superb reflex save from Lee-Barrett as he headed towards the roof of the net from Keiran Trippier's pin-point cross from the right.
But then the breakthrough deservedly arrived. Keith Treacy's corner was whipped in to the near post and Vokes arrived on cue to bullet a header beyond Lee-Barrett for his first goal since joining on loan from Wolves.
The pressure on the away side then mounted, with Burnley rampant. Treacy stung the palms of Lee-Barrett after breaking in to the area from the left and the keeper spilled the ball moments later from McCann's drive from distance.
The home side's perseverance was rewarded in first half stoppage time when Junior Stanislas skipped past helpless full-back Aaron Cresswell before hitting the byline and sliding the ball across to McCann who tapped in from close range.
The second half was much of the same, even though Jewell addressed his inept tactical deficiency. With Jason Scotland already replacing Daryl Murphy; Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Josh Carson replaced Lee Bowyer and Mark Kennedy respectively as the Tractor Boys moved to 4-4-2, consequently stretching their midfield to arrest Burnley's threat.
But even that didn't work. Treacy could have made it three when he had the goal at his mercy from Stanislas's low centre but Danny Collins somehow recovered to make a superb last ditch challenge.
Burnley's approach was intricate, a pleasure to watch, though Ipswich Town's desire and contribution was miserable. The third goal came as Treacy swapped passes with Rodriguez before lifting a pass over Town's defence and in to the path of McCann who had time to compose himself before drilling the ball past Lee-Barrett.
Trippier's enticing cross, perfectly drifted in to the void between goalkeeper and defence, deserved an end product but Vokes at full stretch could only lift the ball in to the Jimmy McIlroy stand.
And number four arrived when Stanislas fed the ball in to the feet of Rodriguez who turned and took the ball in his stride, taking two defenders out of the equation in the process before confidently slotting the ball in to the corner from the edge of the box.
It could have been more, much more. More than 60% possession and a ratio of 24 attempts to two in favour of Burnley spoke volumes. The Clarets are climbing but Town, who fell to their sixth consecutive defeat, are most certainly sinking.