Joey Barton scores Burnley’s winner against Southampton

Joey Barton steals the show on his return to Turf Moor after scoring Burnley’s winner against Southampton

Substitute Joey Barton scored the second-half winner on his league return for Burnley, who saw off Southampton in a tight contest at Turf Moor.

The 34-year-old had only been on the field for five minutes when he fired in a low 25-yard free-kick which took a deflection before beating keeper Fraser Forster.

Southampton were the bigger threat for most of the match, and the Clarets also had Tom Heaton to thank for their eighth home league win of the season.

The England keeper had to be alert to pat down James Ward-Prowse’s first-half header, and then in the closing moments made two outstanding one-handed saves to deny ex-Claret Jay Rodriguez and Josh Sims.

It is the Saints’ fourth consecutive loss in the Premier League; Burnley have three wins in four.

Burnley rely on rearguard

Burnley could be considered lucky to come away with all three points. They were weak in attack and had three shots on target in the entire match, with only Barton’s deflected strike troubling Forster.

Without the disciplined defending and brilliant keeping of Heaton, Southampton might have ended their streak of three matches without a win.

Defender Ben Mee was on hand to clear off the line from Dusan Tadic and Jeff Hendrick placed his body in front of a fierce Shane Long effort that appeared goalbound.

And when the backline was beaten, Heaton was a brick wall as the last man. He reacted quickly to block Ward-Prowse’s header before making two superb diving stops to prevent Rodriguez and then Sims, with the follow-up, from equalising. The second save was truly exceptional.

With 24 points from a possible 36 at home, Burnley are 10 points clear of the bottom three and appear a good bet to avoid a relegation battle.

Positive signs for Saints

Southampton fans should not be too disheartened by the result.

Four league defeats in four makes for bad reading, but there was little to fault in the display at Turf Moor.

They were competent in defence and a handful in attack, with Tadic, aside from the effort cleared by Mee, going close with an angled shot before Long’s header rippled the side netting after the break.

And had Heaton switched off in the final few moments, visiting manager Claude Puel would have been heading back to Hampshire with a deserved point.

As it is, the Saints continue to head down the table. They will now focus on arresting this losing run at home to champions Leicester next Sunday.

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