Sean Dyche’s 400th game in management ended in a 1-0 defeat to Southampton as Burnley suffered a second consecutive loss to open their Premier League campaign.
Danny Ings scored against his former club just five minutes in and the Saints survived sustained pressure for their own first points of the campaign – and a first top-flight win at Turf Moor since 1971. There was second-half controversy as Chris Wood had a goal ruled out for offside, but with play whistled dead before he put the ball in the net, VAR could not review what looked a tight decision.
Dyche has won more than he has lost in his decade in the dugout but Burnley, having finished last season so impressively, are facing familiar problems as takeover talk rumbles on around Turf Moor. That speculation has been the backdrop to another slow summer in the transfer market, leaving Burnley still short-handed as the season got under way.
Dale Stephens arrived from Brighton as the first major signing of the window this week, and was handed an instant debut as much through necessity as anything else with seven first-team players out of action. Things might have got worse in the warm-up when Nick Pope appeared to suffer a bloodied hand, but the goalkeeper got his thumb bandaged up to start the match.
Within five minutes he was picking the ball out of the net as Ings struck against his former club. The 28-year-old beat Jimmy Dunne to Che Adams’ cut-back after a neat ball from Kyle Walker-Peters picked out his run. One-nil to the good, the Saints dominated the early exchanges and might have had a second when Ryan Bertrand’s cross found Adams in space but the ball took an awkward bounce and he fired over.
Southampton, strongly criticised for their high line in last weekend’s 5-2 loss to Tottenham, looked much more solid at the back but would be increasingly tested as Burnley grew into the game.
The hosts’ first chance came more than 20 minutes in when Matej Vydra let Charlie Taylor’s early ball run for Wood, getting it back to cross for Josh Brownhill whose shot was charged down.
The Czech forward then tried an overhead kick, missing the ball but springing to his feet to see a follow-up turned over. Burnley were appealing for a penalty in the 26th minute when Wood went down under pressure from Jan Bednarek, but a free-kick went the other way for handball after a VAR check and Southampton would finish the first half on top.
Burnley threatened as soon as the second half began with Ashley Westwood’s long ball forward finding Wood but his header was held by McCarthy.
The New Zealander had the ball in the net 10 minutes later but the assistant had already flagged for a marginal offside – much to the frustration of Dyche with the new protocols not clearly followed.
Burnley continued to push, with Taylor forcing a fine save from McCarthy with a low drive after Southampton could only half clear from Phil Bardsley’s cross.
Gradually belief faded from their fightback, however, and the match ended in another disallowed goal – this one for Ings who strayed offside before firing home.