Jeff Hendrick the hero as Burnley edge Newcastle
Ireland midfielder breaks the deadlock late on to move Sean Dyche’s side up to seventh
Jeff Hendrick wheels away after scoring Burnley’s winner against Newcastle.Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Sean Dyche’s fifth anniversary present was a win Burnley barely deserved but one that takes them to the fringe of the European positions. Jeff Hendrick’s late goal secured the points against a passive Newcastle side yet in truth both sides were disappointing, as if embarrassed about how high they are in the table.
Burnley’s second home win of the season takes them back above Newcastle, though this was not a game that will be remembered long in either Lancashire or the north-east.
Frankly, it was dull. These are not two of the most free-scoring or attack-minded of Premier League teams and what they are both doing in the top half of the table is a mystery that does not reflect particularly well on all the teams below them.
Perhaps, as is beginning to be suspected, there is not that much quality in the top flight beyond the highest half dozen.
Both sides showed an early commitment to attack, with Hendrick shooting narrowly wide for Burnley in the opening minute and Christian Atsu going close at the other end following a corner. The first attempt on target came from Newcastle when Atsu set up Jonjo Shelvey for a shot, the midfielder striking it well from just inside the area but firing straight at Nick Pope in the home goal.
Newcastle were looking to Shelvey to supply some ideas in midfield but his distribution was initially erratic. Not only did a couple of straightforward passes go astray, on one occasion he also attempted to catch Burnley out with a quick free kick and only succeeded in passing the ball to an opponent.
Newcastle, nevertheless, began to take a hold and push Burnley back as the first half progressed. Without the injured Chris Wood the home side only had Ashley Barnes on his own up front, and though he did get his head to a Robbie Brady cross midway through the first half, the striker generally found it hard going against Florian Lejeune and Jamaal Lascelles.
While neither side actually had an effective attacking spearhead, Newcastle managed to get a few more men forward to set up some promising situations, even if the final ball into the box was usually a disappointment.
DeAndre Yedlin finished the first half with a prime example, a cross from the by-line straight into the waiting arms of Pope when he had time and space to pick out someone in a black-and-white shirt.
Newcastle made some promising inroads down both flanks, with Atsu and Matt Ritchie finding space to run into and Yedlin frequently calling for the ball, to no avail. The American’s undoubted pace could have hurt Burnley, he let Stephen Ward know quite early how quickly he could switch between defence and attack, but Shelvey and Mohamed Diame in the centre seemed more interested in slowing the game down with lateral passes.
Dyche would have been hoping for a little more from his side on his anniversary at Turf Moor. Judging by the way he is immediately connected with every vacant Premier League position, the club might find it difficult to keep him for another five years, though one young supporter brought a home-made banner asking for just that.
Burnley’s chairman, Mike Garlick, acknowledged the manager is bound to attract attention while the club remain so competitive, though said he personally never had any doubts after meeting Dyche for the first time. “I knew straight away he was the right man for us,” Garlick said. “Five years ago people were saying ‘Sean who?’ They thought we needed a more-established name, but within six or seven months the fans all loved him.”
At least the second half opened with a couple more attempts on goal. Ayoze Pérez’s curling but not especially fierce shot was kept out by a full-length save from Pope, while in Burnley’s next attack James Tarkowski got his head to a Brady free kick but could only direct the ball straight at Rob Elliot.
All the same the game seemed to be petering out uneventfully until Jack Cork got hold of the ball 16 minutes from the end. After exchanging passes with Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Cork managed a shot on target that Elliot saved, only for Gudmundsson to return the ball across goal where Hendrick was waiting at the far post for one of the easier goals of his career.
Newcastle tried to come back, and Joselu was close with a late shot, but Burnley are good at holding on to slender leads and Newcastle never really came up with anything clever enough to have them in trouble.