A funny thing happened when Burnley took the lead in a league game for the first time this season. Within another couple of minutes they had a second goal, a much-needed first victory was on the way and suddenly high-flying Bournemouth were the ones looking quizzically at each other after being caught in possession or passing to opponents.
With two late Ashley Barnes goals wrapping up the points, Sean Dyche was able to admit to relief at the end. “There’s a nervousness you can feel when you are still waiting for your first win,” the Burnley manager said. “This is only a start, we still expect a lot more of ourselves, but we want to be winning games again.”
Concerned after a start to the season that left them propping up the Premier League table, Dyche made a few proactive changes, principally dropping Barnes and Chris Wood and granting Matej Vydra a first start. “When you are in our position you can’t just wait for things to happen, you have to push and make them happen,” he said.
Pushing Vydra up the pecking order was a plan that worked. He did not exactly terrorise Bournemouth with his skill or his physical presence, as for the first half-hour of the game the visitors were the ones who looked most likely to open the scoring, but Vydra was in the right place when a couple of Ashley Westwood shots were blocked and he tucked away the loose ball with confident aplomb to register his first league goal for his new club.
If Burnley taking the lead was slightly against the run of play – Callum Wilson had earlier narrowly failed to get on the end of a Josh King cross after Bournemouth had opened up the home defence with the best move of the first half – they lost no time in pressing their advantage.
Bournemouth wrongly assumed Sam Vokes was the only danger when Jóhann Gudmundsson swung over a deep cross from the right in the striker’s direction, so that when the ball flew over the head of its intended target there was no one to prevent Aaron Lennon sneaking in behind to sweep the ball in at the far post.
Lennon has begun to exasperate Burnley supporters with his inability to end a promising run with a telling pass or shot, but here was an example of quick thinking and an instinctive finish.
Bournemouth might have considered themselves unlucky after some good moments while the game was still scoreless, Nathan Aké seeing a shot deflected on to the bar and David Brooks skipping easily past Ben Mee to set up a chance in the penalty area. Yet the visitors showed little real appetite for a second-half fightback.
Vokes nearly increased the lead with a shot that went close shortly after the restart and when Wood came on he headed wide from a good position. Brooks had a chance to reduce the deficit when Bournemouth finally broke through the Burnley rearguard, only to find Joe Hart equal to his shot.
With the aid of Jack Cork’s intelligent distribution and James Tarkowski’s resolute defending Burnley hung on for the points. Junior Stanislas missed the most inviting Bournemouth opportunity by ghosting in at the far post just as Lennon had done in the first half but he failed to make contact with the ball.
When Lennon set up Gudmundsson five minutes from time for a volley that came back off the post, Barnes was on hand to make the scoreline more emphatic, before the same player struck again for a late fourth. This time Lennon popped up in the right to cut back for Barnes to score and Burnley could celebrate more goals in a single afternoon than they had managed in their previous five matches. With Cardiff and Huddersfield to come, they can suddenly see a way to climb the table.
Eddie Howe was left feeling philosophical. “I don’t think the final score reflected the game, but football is like that sometimes,” the Bournemouth manager said. “I didn’t think we were quite as good against Leicester last week as everyone was saying, but I was happy to take the points.”