It’s fair to say that Rovers have rode their luck over the years in the “Lanclasico”.
Martin Olsson’s dive, Jordan Rhodes’s ricochet and David Dunn’s controversial leveller all register in the fixture.
But the tables turned this time out at Ewood Park. Rhodes missed a handful of chances, Tom Lawrence spurned a glorious opportunity in the second half while Craig Conway struck the bar in a second successive defeat to the Clarets.
Once again the visitors were far from their best, but they were organised, retained their shape, displayed a characteristic resilience, and took their chance.
Scott Arfield, who later described his winner as the best feeling he’s experienced in his career, netted the decisive goal in the 63rd minute to send thousands of Clarets housed in the Darwen End in to raptures.
Rhodes struck first the last time the two teams met at Ewood last year, and he was first to threaten this time when flicking over the bar after getting ahead of Michael Keane to meet Markus Olsson’s cross.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche felt aggrieved when Andre Gray was denied a spot kick against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground midweek, and he would’ve experienced similar feeling in the 24th minute of the East Lancashire derby.
Gray slipped the ball in to Joey Barton inside the penalty area and the midfielder went down under the challenge of Rovers skipper Grant Hanley who was nowhere near the ball. Referee Keith Stroud had one look and indicated for play to continue.
At the opposite end, Tom Heaton sprawled to his left to claim Corry Evans’s shot from 20 yards out courtesy of Nathan Delfouneso’s squared pass.
Sam Vokes pulled a right-footed effort wide of Jason Steele’s upright as play switched before the Rovers stopper plunged low to palm Arfield’s attempt to safety after the Scot broke in to the box and shaped an effort towards the far corner.
The home side then had their own cries for a spot kick dismissed by Stroud with five minutes of the half remaining when Barton was central to the incident again, though Tom Lawrence went down too easily under pressure.
Rhodes had two chances to break the deadlock before the interval. Once again the striker moved ahead of Keane to meet Craig Conway’s delivery but he guided his header just wide of the post.
And then, in the closing stages of the half, Rhodes cleared the bar from the edge of the box after space had opened up from Conway’s pass.
Rovers applied the pressure in the second half, in search of a first win since 2010, but they were eventually made to pay for their profligacy.
Lawrence blazed over the angle with only Heaton to beat after latching on to Rhodes’s incisive pass, Evans drilled an effort past the upright before Rhodes fired straight at Heaton when getting the better of Keane from Marshall’s hopeful punt upfield.
The home side paid the penalty after the hour. David Jones supplied the free-kick, Ben Mee took a swipe before Arfield coolly side-footed the ball beyond Steele from 20 yards out to open his account for the season.
The midfielder, joined by his team-mates, then raced the length of the pitch, hand-in-hand with Michael Duff, to celebrate with the travelling support.
But the away side had to stay switched on as Rovers dominated possession, pumping percentage passes in to the penalty area. Heaton stooped low to gather Hope Akpan’s header from Marshall’s cross moments after the goal.
The Clarets skipper was well beaten in the 82nd minute, though, when Conway cut inside and his right-footed drive from distance cannoned back off the bar.
Rovers continued to probe, urged on by a desperate home support, and Shane Duffy went close with a late header that Heaton tipped over the bar.
However, the Clarets held firm to take maximum points, climb to second in the Championship and register a first clean sheet in the derby in over a decade.