CLARETS boss Eddie Howe was delighted he decided to keep Charlie Austin on the pitch as he popped up with a late winner at Derby.
As the hosts looked for the breakthrough at Pride Park, Howe pondered withdrawing his top-scorer to bring on an extra midfielder, to help stem the flow towards the Burnley goal.
But Howe stayed positive, and his gamble paid off with Austin’s ninth goal of the campaign, to earn a first away victory of the season.
Howe said: “We had a dilemma. It was a difficult one, with 10 minutes to go, we were under the cosh and with two strikers on the pitch, do you try and shore up the midfield?
“The one to come off would have been Charlie, and I’m delighted we kept him on the pitch, and delighted for him, because he does work hard.
“He’s a real team player, and he’s be the first to acknowledge the performance of the lads behind him, keeping us in the game at 1-1.”
Austin had a quiet afternoon overall, but showed his killer instinct by clinically taking the two chances that came his way, and Howe said: “That’s the beauty of Charlie, he’s in the right place at the right time.
“His first goal is a fantastic finish, and his hold-up play was very good.
“He didn’t have many sights of goal, but the two he had, he took very well.”
Austin is the joint-leading scorer in the Championship with seven goals, and nine in all competitions, and as his profile increases, the vultures will circle.
But Howe has no worries: “I’d rather have the goals and the attention on him.
“I’m sure he’ll be linked here, there and everywhere, but we need his goals. We just want him to keep scoring.”
And he was thrilled to get off the mark away from home, ending a run of three successive defeats on their travels: “It was fantastic in terms of the result, and a great time to score as well.
“It’s probably our first ugly win, in terms of the second part of the second half. It was backs against the wall, fighting for our lives, and we defended our goal fantastically well, which is something we haven’t done this season.
“And we popped up with a goal which is probably hard on Derby, but we’ll certainly take it, considering some of the luck we’ve had recently.
“We’re one of a number of Championship teams looking for consistency and a run of wins.
“We’re Jekyll and Hyde at the moment, and the test for us is to put together that winning run.
“But it’s great to get that away win after doing so well last year, and hopefully that can start us off again.
“We do feel we have the players who can score goals, we feel we’re decent going forward.
“Our Achilles heel this season has been the amount of goals we’ve conceded, although we do seem to be unlucky.
“Here we showed good discipline, and, hopefully, that’s a good sign.”
Ben Mee was a key component of that defensive discipline, and Howe was pleased to see the former Manchester City man take his chance, after a frustrating start to the campaign personally: “Ben was terrific – a fantastic defensive performance. With so many games in a short period we wanted to rotate the side.
“But Ben was magnificent, some of his defensive play was excellent.
“I’m pleased for him because while he’s been out of the team his attitude has been spot-on.
“He’s a joy to work with and got his rewards
“He’s improving all the time. He’s such a young lad as well.”
Rams manager Nigel Clough was left to reflect on missed chances after a repeat of last year’s result against the Clarets.
“We had enough chances in the second half, but you’ve got to put one of those away, otherwise you are always susceptible to conceding one, but that’s the other side of it we’ve got to learn quickly,” he said.
“We’ve got to learn you don’t lose the game, at 1-1 we’ve played very well and missed a few chances, but if you come in with a 1-1 you bemoan your bad luck, but you do it with a point on the board.
“I thought once we got into our stride in the second half, we lost count of how many chances we had.
“But I thought Craig Bryson was back to his best, he was absolutely magnificent today.”