CLARETS boss Eddie Howe, lamented a hugely disappointing defeat and performance against Millwall.
A third defeat in four games further hit Burnley’s outside hopes of reaching the play-offs, as goals from Andy Keogh, Josh Wright and Harry Kane silenced Turf Moor.
The gap is now six points to sixth, with Carling Cup finalists Cardiff also boasting a game in hand, and Howe admitted he didn’t see such an abject display coming: “It was a strange one, and out of character for us at the moment.
“It was a poor performance; as poor as we’ve seen for a long time really.
“We conceded some bad goals at bad times, battled away in the second half and if we’d have got one, I think it would have been interesting, but we couldn’t break them down.
“In the end, we’ve deservedly been beaten and we’ve got to work out why.”
It was a long way removed from the effort at Reading which drew praise from all quarters in defeat, and Howe said: “Last Friday, we kept the ball really well and looked concise and bright but we didn’t look any of those things against Millwall.
“That’s the frustrating thing because we know what the lads are capable of,and we didn’t hit anywhere near the levels we expect and the levels that we have consistently hit for the last few months.”
The warning signs were there early on, as Hamer Bouazza hit the bar, and Howe added: “We looked open and ragged in the first half, even before they scored.
“They took the game to us, we were slow out of the traps and conceded a really poor goal.
“From then on the second goal was a bolt out of the blue.
“It was a great strike, give the lad credit. Technically it was a fantastic effort but it was a hammer blow to us.
“We had good situations in the first half, balls in good areas, and with better decision-making in the final third we would have had chances.
“It wasn’t to be, and it was a real battle.”
Howe had used all three substitutes by the start of the second half, chasing the game in a 3-4-1-2 formation, missing Dean Marney after his son’s birth, and captain Chris McCann, who came off before the break with a hamstring problem.
He said: “We wanted to put an extra body in midfield because we didn’t have a natural central midfielder apart from Marvin (Bartley).
“We wanted to try to attack and put all our front players on so we went 3-5-2, and I thought we did all right for 20 minutes, but then the third goal has killed us off.”