The Clarets prospered from the luck of the Irish as substitute Keith Treacy proved the catalyst in the 2-0 victory over Yeovil Town at Turf Moor.
With the score goalless, rookie keeper Sam Johnstone misjudged the winger’s in-swinging cross and could only force the ball home at his near post with quarter-of-an-hour remaining. Sam Vokes then applied the second five minutes later with another stroke of fortune.
It was the first time the sides had ever met in the Football League, and it wasn’t a fixture that will live long in the memory. In all fairness to the visitors - new to the Championship - they produced a methodical display that frustrated and neutralised the Clarets.
Marshalled with expertise by Byron Webster, the Glovers plugged the gaps well, stood firm, and sprung attacks in enterprising fashion on the Clarets when the opportunity arose. The hosts were slow out of the blocks and a wayward throw from Kieran Trippier presented Paddy Madden with an early opening, though the striker’s effort from the edge of the box was blocked by Jason Shackell.
Moments later, Trippier gifted Gary Johnson’s side with another chance when Edward Upson - superb over the course of the game for Town - curled a free-kick wide of the post after the Clarets full-back had upended Liam Davis.
Manager Johnson had been dealt with a goalkeeping crisis before kick-off with injuries to Marek Stech and loanee Wayne Hennessey. Goalkeeping coach Gareth Stewart looked set for inclusion in the starting XI until a late move for Manchester United youngster Sam Johnstone was confirmed.
The 20-year-old, with only 19 first team appearances to his name in loan spells with Scunthorpe United and Walsall, certainly got away lightly in the early stages but responded well when plunging to his left to palm Ross Wallace’s 20-yard drive for a corner.
Chances were few and far between in the opening period as the Clarets lacked the zip, invention and precision of previous outings. Sam Vokes went close with an excellent, inventive volley when spinning Town captain Webster on the edge of the box from Dean Marney’s pass but his volley dipped beyond the upright.
The away side did work openings of their own, though it was another mistake that paved the way. Madden and Joe Edwards combined in the build up and the latter’s centre was stabbed in to the path of James Hayter by Junior Stanislas but the striker sliced wide from the penalty spot.
The hosts had to be patient and persevere with Town’s intention to take the sting of the encounter, springing forays forward and exploiting the smallest of apertures whenever possible. One such instance saw Marney bend a superb pass in behind defender Luke Ayling for Vokes who, when faced with Johnstone on the angle of the area, floated an effort towards the far corner that whistled past the post.
Town, a well-organised unit under Johnson, won’t concede too many goals at this level which will prove pivotal to their survival, but they’ll need to find improvement at the other end. Johnson was left scratching his head on the sidelines when Davis lifted the ball over the top from two yards out and with the goal gaping after Tom Heaton palmed Kevin Dawson’s cross in the winger’s direction.
Then, at the other end, Vokes looked bewildered to have missed the target from Trippier’s perfect delivery as he slipped in-between Ayling and Webster to head the cross in to the David Fishwick Stand from the edge of the six-yard box.
The second half started with a similar rhythm to the opening 45 minutes. Stanislas curled an effort wide when stood up by Ayling inside the box once Ings and Vokes had combined before the former Hammer dragged another effort wide from Ings’s assist after Webster had carelessly conceded possession.
But a double change from both bosses just after the hour changed the outlook of the fixture. Fortunately for Sean Dyche it was the introduction of Keith Treacy and Scott Arfield, at the expense of Stanislas and Ross Wallace respectively, that proved the most effective.
Before the change Daniel Seaborne narrowly missed the target with a bullet header that had Heaton rooted to the spot from a well-worked free-kick routine involving Upson and Davis, but after it was the Clarets who took the lead.
David Jones provided the assist from a short corner, and Treacy found fortune in a bending cross that was helped in at the near post by the inexperienced Johnstone in the 74th minute. The opener sparked the Clarets in to life and they could have doubled the advantage almost immediately when Arfield infiltrated the gap in behind Dawson, when racing on to Ings’s clipped pass, but the midfielder pulled his shot wide of the far post as Johnstone narrowed the angle.
But the important second goal did arrive moments later. After Treacy was brought down by Davis, a challenge which earned the winger a yellow card, Ings’s header cannoned back off the post from Jones’s set-piece but Arfield reacted first to smash the ball home via the chest of Vokes.
The Clarets continued to rally, looking to strengthen their initiative further, and only an alert save from Johnstone to turn Jones’s measured free-kick over the bar prevented a third. The keeper then palmed Vokes’s header to safety from a Treacy corner before Ayling did admirably to turn Vokes’s shot off the line after Treacy pulled the ball back from the bye line.
Town substitute Michael Ngoo tested Heaton late on but the Clarets held on to their first clean sheet of the season while maintaining their unbeaten start to the campaign.
The Clarets will now go in to Saturday’s fixture with Brighton at the AMEX Stadium in third place with seven points from three league games.