Shoe firmly on the other foot in East Lancs derby

Burnley fans celebrate at Ewood Park
Burnley fans celebrate at Ewood Park

It was quite apt a Blackburn fan threw a shoe on the Ewood Park pitch from the Riverside Stand after Robbie Brady claimed Burnley’s second goal.

Quite literally, in this age old East Lancashire rivalry, the shoe is now firmly on the other foot.

Jack Cork opens the scoring at Ewood Park

Jack Cork opens the scoring at Ewood Park

How times have changed.

Clarets fans gleefully mocked their beaten rivals: “We’re going to Wembley, you’re going to Shrewsbury!”

Long-suffering Clarets are well-aware of when that was the other way round.

But these are heady days indeed under Sean Dyche, who doesn’t know what defeat to Blackburn tastes like.

Jack Cork celebrates his opener with his teammates

Jack Cork celebrates his opener with his teammates

Since taking the helm at Turf Moor, he is unbeaten in seven games against the old enemy, and has won four on the spin, after Burnley went 11 games without beating Rovers, stretched out over almost 35 years.

He has well and truly put that hoodoo to bed.

His side now travel to the national stadium to face Spurs on Sunday buoyed by a convincing cup win, firmly underlining the yawning chasm in quality between the Clarets and their League 1 neighbours, as the 48 league places between them would suggest.

This was a third-straight win at Ewood Park, and ninth in 15 visits, despite having made eight changes from their Premier League defeat to West Brom on Saturday.

Robbie Brady thunders the ball past Raya to seal the victory

Robbie Brady thunders the ball past Raya to seal the victory

Such was their dominance, Rovers failed to register a single shot on target.

Both sides have bigger fish to fry this season, Burnley aiming to build on retaining their Premier League status, while Rovers look for a way out of the third tier.

But Dyche’s players gave the rivalry - and their 5,000 strong travelling army - the respect it deserves.

They had too much quality for Blackburn.

What was telling, however, was their desire to maintain their grip on the bragging rights, which will extend into an eighth year, with little sign of them relinquishing them any time soon.

Former Burnley loan man Peter Whittingham, talking after his summer move to Blackburn, noted of life in League 1: “Teams are going to come here and it’s going to be their FA Cup Final.”

Different competition, but this was Rovers’ cup final, only someone forgot to tell them, as they struggled to lay a glove on the Clarets, who were more convincing winners than the score line suggests.

Many would have expected an uncomfortable evening, but it never materialised.

The complete about turn in fortunes was further emphasised by the away end singing en masse: “Where’s your money gone?” as Dyche handed Chris Wood a debut from the bench after completing his record £15m move from Leeds United on Monday.

Who would have imagined a Blackburn manager, Tony Mowbray, being forced to say: “It’s hard to take for Rovers fans to see Burnley that far in front of us.”

Rovers tried to turn Burnley round in the opening stages, but the Clarets easily rode that out and, with Jack Cork grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck, they controlled proceedings.

After a four-minute stoppage as Jon Walters, back at the club where he started his career, received treatment on an ankle injury, Burnley began to pick their passes and exploit the spaces out wide behind a narrow Rovers midfield.

Midway through the half, Ashley Barnes forced a fine save from David Raya after turning on the edge of the area, and three minutes later, Barnes drove infield and found Brady, whose precise clip inside was headed home by Cork.

Barnes and Walters both had half chances before Scott Arfield had a shot deflected off record signing Chris Wood – on for Walters – which Raya juggled to safety.

Brady sent an effort just beyond the angle after cutting in from the right, before Wood was denied a debut goal by Raya as Arfield played him in.

But deep in injury time, Wood held the ball up in the corner and found Cork, who rolled the ball across the box, and Brady danced through and fired into the roof of the net.

After the break, it was a case of game management from Burnley, as they contained Rovers with relative ease.

Wood headed over from former Leeds teammate Charlie Taylor’s cross after a one touch move, before Rovers substitute Craig Conway, in an offside position, turned in a Dominic Samuel shot which was going wide.

Wood fired over from a pull back from Taylor after another rampaging run down the left, and the pair will now do battle against their former club in the next round.