Analysis spotlight on Craig Dawson
IT was not all sweet music for 90 minutes at the Reebok on Saturday – even the PA system was affected by a power outage pre-match.
But it ended on a high note thanks in no small part to Dougie Freedman’s two new additions to his “CD” collection at Wanderers.
CD 1 – Craig Davies – came off the bench to score his first goal for the Whites and arguably change the course of the game to hand his manager a first Championship win of 2013.
But CD 2 was just as pivotal to the derby victory and it was clear to see from virtually the first whistle why 22-year-old centre-back Craig Dawson is so highly-rated.
From early on in last month’s transfer window, the former Rochdale defender’s name cropped up and Freedman was openly honest when asked about the link and his interest; he announced his admiration for the England Under-21s man without hesitation.
It was natural then that he was delighted to secure his services, albeit on a three-month loan, from West Brom.
On Saturday he finally got his first run out and hardly any paid-up member of the Whites faithful would have argued with his award for man-of-the-match.
Straight away the experience at such a young age was plain to see from high in the Gods of the Reebok press box; training with Premier League players and representing his country has clearly developed the talent first harnessed at non-league Radcliffe Borough.
Not only was his defending the no-nonsense style you often need in scrappy derby clashes – and this was certainly one of those for the most part – but his organisational skills were evident.
Constantly talking to his new back-four colleagues, he marshalled a back line alongside skipper for the day Zat Knight.
And when you are facing a goal-machine like Charlie Austin, you are doing well when he rarely gets a sniff.
Like so many of the great defenders from days gone by, Dawson has that little extra to his game – a goal threat – with five goals in 11 U21 appearances.
He may not be the biggest centre-back in the league at 6ft 2ins, but he doesn’t need to be when his quick-thinking comes into play.
Time and again in a first half of few clear-cut chances, Dawson was a menace to the Clarets defence from corners, constantly on the move to work space at the far post.
He was unlucky on more than one occasion as well, inches away from Jay Spearing’s deep corner early on when he headed into the ground and then even closer soon after when only the left boot of Burnley stopper Lee Grant at his post denied him a debut goal.
The half-time team talk in the visitors’ dressing room must have centred on the havoc he was wreaking and Dawson was monitored much more closely after the break.
But he kept strong with his defensive duties, the Clarets opener not down to any slip by him, and snuffed out the Austin threat.
It allowed fellow new boy Davies to come on and do his thing before David Ngog grabbed what turned out to be a deserved winner.
But as debuts go, Dawson’s display gave a glimpse to Whites fans just why Freedman was so happy to beat others to his services.
More man-of-the-match performances like this and Wanderers can really start to play to the right tune.