If Sheffield Wednesday fans were wishing for a happy new year in 2002, it was a sentiment borne out of hope rather than conviction.
The Owls had had a miserable season so far in Division One and there had been no cheer over the Christmas period which had offered just one point and one goal.
They did though claim their first win since 24 November when they squeaked past Crewe on 12 January with new signing Shefki Kuqi making his debut for the Owls following his £1million move from Stockport.
A week later they made the trip to Burnley hoping to secure back-to-back league wins for only the second time that season and their first away win since 31 October 2001.
The odds were stacked against the Owls though with the Clarets jostling for an automatic promotion spot while Terry Yorath’s side were in the bottom three. The first 10 minutes offered little on a cold, blustery day at Turf Moor before Owls keeper Kevin Pressman had to come out and save bravely at the feet of Clarets striker Gareth Taylor before Kuqi poked a shot just wide of the post after being played in by Efan Ekoku.
There was little choose between the sides and Wednesday almost capitalised on a mistake by the home defence only for Paul McLaren to put a shot from an acute angle just past the post.
They then grabbed the lead in the 33rd minute. A long kick downfield by Pressman was flicked on by Kuqi and with Ekoku and Burnley keeper Nik Michopoulos going for the ball, McLaren was on hand to follow up and fire home for his third goal of the season.
Things almost got instantly worse for Burnley with Wednesday nearly going ahead seconds after the break. Kuqi getting in around the back after a hash of a clearance by Ian Cox only for Michopoulos to come out quickly, no doubt relieved to see the ball bounce away off his legs.
Yorath’s side looked comfortable but they were dealt a blow with 22 minutes remaining when defender Marlon Broomes sustained an ankle injury which led to him going off on a stretcher.
The Clarets raised the tempo and a high ball into the box found Kevin Ball at the far post with Pressman doing well to hold his header.
Then in the 77th minute Stan Ternent’s side were level. A high cross was sent into the box from the right and Ashley Westwood was adjudged to have handled the ball with Taylor firing the resulting penalty into the roof of the net for his 10th goal of the season.
Burnley were applying pressure and there was a huge scramble in the box with both Pressman and Trond Soltvedt making desperate challenges.
Then with just eight minutes remaining a poor backpass by Westwood forced Pressman into a challenge with Taylor with the Owls man taking a knock to his left leg and again a stretcher was called. Off went Pressman and on came Sean Roberts for his league debut.
He was well protected by those in front of him and it was the Owls who grabbed the third goal of the game two minutes into injury time. A long through-ball by Leigh Bromby found Kuqi running on into the box where he fired home a crisp drive from 12 yards for his first goal for the Owls.
It could have been a greater margin of victory for Wednesday when they were awarded a spot-kick in the final seconds after Kuqi was tripped by Arthur Gnohere when he was clean through. Gerald Sibon though could only hit a tame shot to the keeper’s left which was saved but it mattered not as the Owls became only the second side that season after Manchester City to secure a league win at Turf Moor.