Sheffield United suffer red card blow as they are beaten by promoted Burnley

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There’s a pub located in Turf Moor’s shadow named after former Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who kept them in the Premier League for six straight seasons before leaving for pastures new.

Paul Heckingbottom, tasked with taking Sheffield United back there following two years away, might still have a little work to do until one of their local hostelries takes the same step. But his team remain in pole position to join their newly promoted opponents at the highest level next term, despite succumbing to a brace by substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson following Wes Foderingham’s early dismissal for a foul on Nathan Tella.

Still second in the table, United are now five points clear of third placed Luton Town with a game in hand over Rob Edwards’ men. But for three instances of uncharacteristically woeful defending, that might well have been six with half a dozen assignments left on their Championship schedule.

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Vincent Kompany has made a flying start to his reign in this corner of Lancashire, either winning or drawing all but four of his matches in charge en route to last night’s fixture. With one of those defeats coming at the hands of United five months ago, Heckingbottom had warned that the Belgian would “be intent on revenge” before accompanying his squad across the Pennines. Certainly, despite being more than matched in the work ethic department by opponents whose campaign remains very much alive, Burnley betrayed no signs of a team still out on the sauce after sealing their top-flight return three days earlier.

Nevertheless, United’s doggedness and discipline after finding themselves at a numerical disadvantage meant it took them just over an hour to engineer the breakthrough. Even then a lapse in concentration from Jayden Bogle, who allowed Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ centre to reach Tella before Gudmundsson rifled home, gave the hosts a helping hand. Another error, this time by Foderingham’s deputy Adam Davies, gifted the Icelander his second.

United appeared the more likely to score when Foderingham walked for bringing down Tella midway through the opening period. Anel Ahmedhodzic saw an overhead kick fly just over the crossbar when the hosts made a hash of clearing a corner. But if Burnley’s efforts to clear their lines were less than effective, the way United dealt with things when the midfielder threatened to dart into their box was even worse. Jack Robinson and Foderingham both looked at the ball. Neither of them intervened. Tella, alert to the possibility which had presented itself, nipped in between them and was upended by the goalkeeper just outside the area. Referee Michael Salisbury revised his decision to award a penalty after initially pointing to the spot. But following a discussion with his assistant, the sending off stood with Robinson duly substituted to facilitate the introduction of Davies. With Foderingham now suspended for United’s next outing, the Wales international will start against Cardiff City on Saturday too.

Davies did well to palm away Jordan Beyer’s long-range attempt on the stroke of the interval. But before then Iliman Ndiaye had got his feet into a tangle after meeting Sander Berge’s cross near the spot.

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Gudmundsson did not suffer the same misfortune when he converted just past the hour mark before pouncing again when Davies failed to deal with Manuel Benson’s ball to the far post.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is sent-off at Burnley: Simon Bellis / SportimageSheffield United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is sent-off at Burnley: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Sheffield United goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is sent-off at Burnley: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Burnley: Muric, Roberts, Harwood-Bellis (Taylor 69), Beyer, Maatsen, Cullen, Cork © (Gudmundsson 46), Brownhill (Bastien 77), Tella (Obafemi 87), Barnes, Foster (Benson 46). Not used: Peacock-Farrell, Vitinho.

Sheffield United: Foderingham, Baldock, Bogle, Ahmedhodzic, Egan ©, Robinson (Davies 18), Norwood, Doyle (Fleck 71), Berge (Basham 82), Ndiaye (Sharp 71), McBurnie (Osula 71). Not used: Clark, McAtee.

Referee: Michael Salisbury (Lancashire).

Attendance: 21.506.