3-1 down with 10 minutes remaining, Burnley fans could be forgiven for allowing their minds to wander and consider whether the Cherries could stir and produce yet another late fightback, just as they had done at the Vitality Stadium a week ago.
They threatened – Benik Afobe had the ball in the net with three minutes remaining, but his effort was ruled offside – before Charlie Daniels thumped home an assured finish to reduce the margin to one.
But the narrative had expired. Burnley hung on and ground out a precious three points at their safe haven of home, leaving Bournemouth fans ruing a lack of cutting edge from their side.
A rapid start for the Clarets
Things had begun promisingly. Midfielder Dan Gosling poked a close-range effort wide after just four minutes, and the visitors enjoyed the majority of the early possession.
Yet keen followers of the game will know by now that not all teams struggle without having the majority of the ball, and it’s a shame for the Cherries that they were playing a team who were a case in point. Sean Dyche’s Clarets side tend to outwork rather than outplay, and have begun their third Premier League season encouragingly by adhering to such a mantra.
Dyche also promotes quick transitions in phases of play, which was evidenced by their opener. Matt Lowton’s perfectly weighted ball forwards was superbly controlled by Jeff Hendrick. The Irishman then channelled his inner Tony Yeboah, kneeing the ball up and volleying a 20-yard effort past the despairing dive of goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
That goal came after 13 minutes; Burnley’s second came just three minutes later. Steven Defour’s whipped corner was met by the firm head of an unmarked Ben Mee and, with the Bournemouth players static, defender Stephen Ward scrambled home from a couple of yards out.
Quite how and why Burnley’s home performances are in stark contrast to their away ones remains one of the season’s ongoing mysteries but, amidst the enduring hysteria of leading 2-0 inside the opening 20 minutes, Clarets fans needn’t have worried.
Their rapid start seemed to awaken their visitors, who began to control proceedings. Penetration was sparse, but there was intent: the corner count continued to rise, with second balls at one stage proving a realistic way back into the match. Gosling again sent an effort fizzing over the bar following a set-piece, and Adam Smith saw his free-kick tipped over the bar by the returning Tom Heaton.
But the Burnley skipper was powerless to keep the Bournemouth wolf from his door. Neat interchange led to Simon Francis in space on the right wing, and his low cross was pounced upon by Afobe, who crashed home a lifeline for the Cherries on the stroke of half-time.
Boos echoed around the ground at the interval in the direction of referee Martin Atkinson, with fans aggrieved that Bournemouth’s leveller had perhaps come beyond the allocated one minute of added time. Regardless, it left Dyche plenty of food for thought in the second half.
A back-and-forth finale
Those final 45 minutes began as the first had ended, with Eddie Howe’s men in the ascendancy. Howe had faced Dyche four times previously, and so one may suspect he was beginning the get the measure of his Burnley counterpart.
But Dyche’s bold pragmatism saw his side regain a foothold in the match; off came Defour and Sam Vokes, who were replaced by Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray respectively, as the Turf Moor chief switched from a 4-2-3-1 to reflect Howe’s 4-4-2.
Barnes and Gray struggled to click initially, but the former’s physicality and the latter’s pace soon began to threaten. Barnes’ headed knockdown from Ward’s lofted pass fell kindly for Gray, but the Burnley striker could only stab his effort straight at Boruc. He was to tee up his side’s third, however, as an acute backheel flick sent George Boyd away before the winger rifled home from a tight angle.
From then on, madness ensued. Both sides had glorious chances – Ryan Fraser and Gray both went close – but with Bournemouth looking dangerous in possession and their hosts equally as threatening on the counter-attack, there was always room for more goals.
After Afobe’s effort was disallowed, Daniels struck to offer a modicum of hope for the travelling Cherries. Unfortunately for them, Burnley held firm and snuffed out another fightback.