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Dyche toasts his Clarets for Hammers display as Heaton fires up home fans

Burnley 2 West Ham 0

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Burnley manager Sean Dyche. Photo: Getty Images

Burnley manager Sean Dyche. Photo: Getty Images

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Burnley manager Sean Dyche. Photo: Getty Images

Tom Heaton would have been forgiven for thinking that he had played his final game for Burnley. Yet now, he may just be their first-choice goalkeeper again.

Forced out by a dislocated shoulder, then the emergence of Nick Pope, then the signing of Joe Hart, Heaton had not played a Premier League match for 476 days and had made no secret of his desire to leave next month for regular football.

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West Ham's Felipe Anderson is challenged by Burnley's Ashley Westwood.  Photo: Getty Images

West Ham's Felipe Anderson is challenged by Burnley's Ashley Westwood. Photo: Getty Images

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West Ham's Felipe Anderson is challenged by Burnley's Ashley Westwood. Photo: Getty Images

Yet after the shock of a 5-1 humiliation at home to Everton on St Stephen's Day, manager Sean Dyche knew he had to do something. He decided, among five changes, to drop Hart and bring back Heaton.

The cheer that greeted the decision when it was announced over the public address system told much about where the sympathies of Burnley's supporters lie.

The roar that greeted Heaton's spectacular late save from Andy Carroll was almost as loud as those for the goals from Chris Wood and Dwight McNeil that decided the game.

Dyche said: "Why would there not be a good feeling towards Tom Heaton? I think so much of him, he knows that, but I can only pick 11, and one goalkeeper.

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Burnley's Dwight McNeil and West Ham's Grady Diangana battle for possession. Photo: Getty Images

Burnley's Dwight McNeil and West Ham's Grady Diangana battle for possession. Photo: Getty Images

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Burnley's Dwight McNeil and West Ham's Grady Diangana battle for possession. Photo: Getty Images

"I am quite loyal to people, and I think I've been loyal to Joe, but eventually you have to look at the stats against us, conceding goals.

"The final piece I hadn't changed was the goalkeeper, so I felt it was necessary and appropriate.

"Joe's done well for us. He's a quality keeper and a quality professional. He was the first to jump up on the bench when Tom made the save right at the end. There's a big respect for him here, and a big decision coming. We've got three England keepers."

Despite the change in goal, Burnley's defensive shakiness did not initially leave, but whereas mishaps turned into goals conceded against Everton four days earlier, West Ham did not punish them.

There was one moment, in the first 10 minutes, when it could all have gone horribly wrong for the home side. James Tarkowski conceded a soft corner, Robert Snodgrass delivered it and Angelo Ogbonna's header dropped straight into Heaton's hands.

It was a straightforward save, one that any of Burnley's five senior goalkeepers would have expected to make, but it was also a let-off that gave the home side much-needed encouragement after a torrid run.

Heaton, having kept the match goalless there, then began the move from which Burnley took the lead.

He ran from his penalty area to head the ball clear as Snodgrass raced through, then Ashley Westwood gathered possession, exchanged passes with McNeil and Jack Cork, and angled a pass for Ashley Barnes to nod the ball down for Wood to steer a shot under Lukasz Fabianski.

Burnley began to grow in confidence and Wood was denied by a well-timed challenge on the edge of the area by Issa Diop, before they extended their lead.

Westwood was involved in the build-up once more, collecting the ball on the right as West Ham failed to deal with a sustained bout of pressure, then delivering an outswinging cross that McNeil forced past Fabianski at the far post for his first senior goal.

McNeil almost scored again just before the interval, but the ball arrived just behind him as he met Barnes's cross on the run and he steered the chance wide.

Burnley spurned a couple of chances to end all remaining doubts, but they looked comfortable enough, even with Carroll introduced as a substitute to try to rough them up.

Afterwards, West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini's only complaint was over a schedule that had required his team to make two long away journeys in less than 72 hours.

"Normally I don't like to give excuses," Pellegrini said. "But we arrived in London at 2am on Friday and we played 48 hours later against a team that always works hard. They had more time to recover."

©Daily Telegraph, London

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