BURNLEY, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Connor Roberts of Burnley celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Burnley and Southampton at Turf Moor on April 21, 2022 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Connor Roberts . . . Leading The Way Towards Premier League Survival And A World Cup Finals in 2022

By David Williams

Connor Roberts believes he has given Burnley a fighting chance of Premier League survival after his goal set the club on their way to a vital win against Southampton.

The Wales defender’s superb strike inspired a crucial 2-0 victory against Southampton on Thursday night.

The Clarets won for the first time since Sean Dyche’s sacking thanks to Roberts’ sublime curler and Nathan Collins’ header.

Roberts’ first goal for Burnley following his August move from Swansea City came early in the first half at Turf Moor and proved the key moment.

It was just their fifth league victory this term, in interim manager Mike Jackson’s second game since Dyche’s surprise sacking last week after 10 years in charge.

Third bottom Burnley remain in the relegation zone but they are now just one point behind fourth bottom Everton, who have a game in hand.

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It means after his move up from the Championship last August,  Roberts could end the season still a Premier League player and possibly bound for the World Cup finals if Wales can win their play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine in June.

Roberts said there was no lack of confidence in the Burnley camp and added: “There will always be belief.

“We know we have quality and we will give everything to try and keep this club up,” said Roberts.

“We have five games to give everything. Mike hasn’t changed everything, but has given us a bit more freedom to do what we want.”

Burnley host Wolves on Sunday and, with Everton facing quadruple chasing Liverpool the same day, Jackson’s team are in with a chance of climbing out of the bottom three this weekend.

Caretaker boss Jackson said: “The players remembered what they were. We haven’t done loads different but they have come together as a group. Everyone has mucked in and it is a great result,

“I will probably speak to the chairman and he will let me know if I’m needed for next game. We have to make sure we deliver against Wolves.”

Just hours before kick-off, Dyche had spoken for the first time since his sacking, speaking warmly about the “truly incredible times” he enjoyed with Burnley.

There was a feeling in some quarters that Burnley stagnated in the final year of Dyche’s reign, but only avoiding relegation will back the club’s decision to sack him.

This was a small step in the right direction for Burnley and their chairman Alan Pace.

For the first time since 2012, Burnley were playing a home game without Dyche and they started nervously.

Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters smashed a deflected strike that flashed just wide for a corner.

From James Ward-Prowse’s resulting set-piece, Oriol Romeu headed inches past the post.

Roberts eased the palpable anxiety in the 12th minute with a superb effort, the Wales defender taking aim from the edge of the area and curling his shot past Saints keeper Fraser Forster into the far corner.

Wout Weghorst should have doubled Burnley’s lead moments later but Forster spread himself to save the striker’s close-range effort.

Weghorst was denied again by Forster’s brilliant stop as Burnley piled on the pressure.

Forster was all that stood between Burnley and a second goal as he palmed Jay Rodriguez’s flick out to Weghorst, who headed the rebound against the post.Romeu wasted a golden opportunity to equalise with a wayward header before Forster made yet another excellent save from Dwight McNeil’s low drive.

Forster’s inspired resistence couldn’t last and Collins headed Burnley’s second goal from Josh Brownhill’s corner in the 44th minute, with a VAR check for a potential offside against Jack Cork going in the Clarets’ favour.

Burnley were a constant threat from crosses and Cork bundled home from Tarkowski’s header early in the second half, only to see the goal disallowed for offside this time.

Out-working Southampton in all areas, Burnley didn’t concede a shot on target until the 67th minute when Nick Pope kept out Che Adams’ volley.

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