New signing Ashley Barnes watched fellow strikers Danny Ings and Sam Vokes guide the Clarets to a 2-1 victory against Yeovil Town on the club’s first ever visit to Huish Park.
The prolific duo, with 33 goals between them this term, scored in either half as Burnley hit the 50-point mark, though Glovers’ substitute Kieffer Moore set up a nervy final quarter-of-an-hour.
The January transfer window traditionally manufactures speculation, and England Under 21 Ings will be central to those rumours once again following his 21st of the campaign.
The striker opened the scoring in emphatic fashion in the 20th minute when manoeuvring the ball from under his feet and rifling a thunderous drive across Marek Stech and in to the top corner from 25 yards.
Prior to that moment the fixture lacked invention or imagination with the hosts dominating possession, though the Glovers lacked a cutting edge, a reason Gary Johnson’s men find themselves rooted at the bottom end of the Championship alongside Barnsley.
The visitors forced the first opening when Ings hooked an effort over the top with Stech back-peddling as he collected Kieran Trippier’s centre with his back to goal.
Midfielder Scott Arfield then had an effort blocked from deep inside the penalty area from David Jones’s training ground corner routine, and from that point the away side’s play became cleaner and more convincing.
Jones was outstanding in the centre of the park, with his energy and electricity forcing the Glovers in to errors, and he atoned for a misplaced header when immediately closing Joseph Edwards and robbing possession before laying the ball in to Ings who fizzed a sensational effort beyond Stech.
The home side often picked up the scraps on the outside of the box once percentage passes were cleared, though a skewed Shane Duffy attempt which was headed to safety at the back post by Dean Marney was their only shot of note.
Ings went close again when bending an effort over the bar after Jones and Arfield had combined intricately, with the latter setting up the opportunity with a neat back heel.
And as the half drew to a close, Sam Vokes, given a torrid time by central defensive pairing Byron Webster and Duffy, headed in to the gloves of Stech from Keith Treacy’s centre after the goalkeeper had initially spilled Jones’s set-piece.
The Clarets laid siege in the second half, with Jones and Marney setting the tone in a battling display as they pressed high up the pitch, working harmoniously to provide a balance.
Arfield and Treacy also caused headaches with their respective movement infield from the touchline, and that almost led to Burnley’s second. After being felled by Edwards, Treacy picked himself up, dusted himself off, and bent a delicate free-kick around the post that Steck did well to tip around the upright as he plunged to his post.
With the Clarets pressing to extend their advantage, they became susceptible to the intermittent break and defender Michael Duff, on his 36th birthday, had to react instinctively to deny Joel Grant from poking home from close range with a superb last ditch challenge.
However, the Clarets regained their command when Ings span off the shoulder of Webster to meet Treacy’s lofted pass, and with Arfield surging forward the midfielder retrieved the ball, eventually forcing Stech in to a low save from the edge of the box.
The Clarets continued to commit men forward positively, and they almost reaped the rewards when Trippier stole possession off Cardiff City loan man Ralls and worked the ball in to Arfield inside the area and from his pull back Vokes smashed the outside of the post.
Town continued to break, finding the wide men, and Liam Davis went agonisingly close to reducing the deficit when guiding a header past Tom Heaton that clipped the bar after he was picked out expertly by Luke Ayling’s centre.
At that point, Glovers boss Johnson sensed a change would edge the momentum in his favour. But within 60 seconds of Moore replacing Kevin Dawson the Clarets doubled their lead. Once again a high line paid dividends as Marney robbed Duffy before being picked out by a perfectly measured pass from Ings as he continued his run in to the box and with the target at his mercy, the midfielder unselfishly slipped the ball across to Vokes who tapped in to an empty net.
Ings worked the line well, continuously stealing in behind Ayling to force the openings from Lafferty’s slotted balls along the flanks, and the striker almost assisted Vokes when clipping a cross toward the penalty spot, but the Welshman’s stabbed effort was kept out by Stech who flew to his left.
With 20 minutes remaining, Ralls sliced wide after space had opened up for him centrally on the edge of the penalty area, while Lafferty’s pin-point cross was directed goalwards by the head of Ings who was once again thwarted by Stech.
Even after Heaton reacted well to turn a Ralls header over the top, the Clarets looked comfortable and sailing to maximum points. However, Moore threw a spanner in the works with 10 minutes remaining.
Immediately after Vokes’s header from Marney’s deep cross had dropped just wide of the far post, after looping over Stech, Town somehow found a route back in to the fixture. There seemed very little danger when Moore had possession out wide, but as he cut inside his low cross fortuitously evaded everybody and swept past the outstretched arm of Heaton and in to the corner.
Former Brighton striker Barnes, who joined the Turf Moor ranks yesterday, made his debut when replacing Ings in the 87th minute but had minimal time to make an impact, even as the fourth official indicated a minimum of five minutes of time to be added on.
The home side threw everything forward in search of the equaliser, with Stech even present in the box for a number of Town set-pieces, but the Clarets held firm for a deserved three points.