CLARETS boss Eddie Howe hailed his young side’s spirit and determination after they dug in to record a 1-0 win at Millwall on Saturday.
A first clean sheet in 24 outings was another huge plus as Burnley recorded back to back league victories for the first time this season.
It has been levelled at Howe that he needs to add more experience to his squad, but they showed again at The Den that they know how to see out a game.
He said: “The main thing was the spirit and the determination to grind out a win at a difficult place.
“That pleases me more than anything, we’re a really small group but the spirit is as good as I’ve known it since I’ve been here.
“It’s getting better and better all the time and that was the key to the game, the lads were determined to fight for each other and to grind out another really big win for us.”
More than one player after the game used the phrase “win ugly”, and that was certainly the case in a tough second half, after a first period where Burnley bossed the ball and territory.
The Clarets boss added: “It was a battle.
“I felt first half we played our passing game but I don’t think it was a game where either side really got going and technically I don’t think it was a great football match.
“But I thought what we showed was a different side to us, especially second half. We haven’t really seen that determination and that quality of defending, in terms of putting your bodies on the line.
“I thought we defended very well, I thought our goalkeeper was magnificent, he saved us when we couldn’t clear the danger.
“So, all in all, our first clean sheet in a long time is I think probably the most pleasing thing.
“It’s a massive lift.
“Stats are often talked about and you can use stats to prove whatever you want but the clean sheet had been round our neck all season and it was something we were desperate to end.”
Howe added: “It’s a tough ground, it’s always difficult here, especially when the crowd get with them as they did in the second half, we saw a different Millwall in the second half.
“I thought we withstood the pressure really well, played the percentages in the end which I think we had to.
“It was never going to be a pretty game second half, and on the break we could have nicked a second.”
After the win at Derby, the Clarets – who had to wait until Boxing Day for their first away win last season under Brian Laws – have now won two of their four away games, and Howe is delighted with how his team are gelling: “That’s two away wins now and we struggled away from home for large percentages last year.
“But we’re a new team, it’s difficult to compare last year’s team with this one.
“We’re certainly hopefully moving in the right direction and getting better as a side.
“The more we play with each other I think the better we’ll be.”
As ever, the international break is a chance to take stock, and Burnley go into it in rude health with seven points from nine: “It’s been a good couple of weeks, with the Carling Cup as well, progressing in that.
“I’ve been really pleased, we had a tough run of fixtures, but to win against Nottingham Forest gave us a huge confidence boost and to come here and win we now go into the international break in good spirits.
“We have a game in hand against most sides so things look a lot more positive than they did two weeks ago.
“I think we’ll give them a little break, we’ve had Saturday-Tuesday games for the last two weeks, the lads have put a great shift in physically and mentally, so it’s a good time to give them a little break.
“But we want to make sure when we come back we’re the same team.”