Burnley close with another dud, but staying up is enough to cheer
Burnley ended their season on a low note, finishing 16th in the Premier League table after a 2-1 defeat at home to West Ham on Sunday.
Sam Vokes continued his fine run of goal-scoring form, with his fifth goal in five games giving the Clarets an early lead, but Sofiane Feghouli and Andre Ayew hit back for the visitors.
Sean Dyche's men ended the season with three wins from their past 16 matches, and that they finish lower than Swansea City in the table demonstrates how disappointing recent results have been.
But the fact that some supporters felt gleeful enough to invade the Turf Moor pitch at full-time indicates the scale of the achievement Dyche and his players have managed.
Dyche made a positive team selection with Andre Gray and Robbie Brady added to the lineup. They helped Burnley make a bright enough start to the game, deservedly taking the lead when Gray squared for strike partner Vokes to tap home a simple finish.
The Clarets created little thereafter, however, and it was hard to argue that West Ham did not deserve their win.
With Michael Keane and Ben Mee still ruled out through injury, the backup partnership of James Tarkowski and Kevin Long was given another opportunity to shine. But they conceded two goals for the third game in a row.
The Clarets' poor form at the end of the season is a concern, as teams typically start a new campaign in a similar fashion to how they ended the last one.
6 (out of 10) -- Dyche named his most attack-minded team in weeks and was rewarded with a decent first-half display, but his side faded badly after the interval.
Unlike in the past couple of matches, when Dyche made changes that made an impact, this time his substitutions were ineffective, though he finally gave minutes to Steven Defour.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Tom Heaton, 6 -- Perhaps slow to react to West Ham's winner, but the ball bouncing to Ayew off the crossbar was a freak occurrence the captain could not have been expected to see coming.
DF Matt Lowton, 5 -- Another flat performance from the right-back, who has had a sloppy end to a mostly very solid campaign.
DF Kevin Long, 5 -- Deputising for Keane and Mee, Long did little to suggest that he deserves his recent maiden call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.
DF James Tarkowski, 5 -- Frequently touted as a ready-made replacement for Keane, Tarkowski again struggled to assert himself as the senior member of the centre-back partnership.
DF Stephen Ward, 6 -- Marginally the strongest performer in a weak display from the Clarets' defensive unit on the day.
MF Robbie Brady, 6 -- Given a start after a spell on the bench, the club-record signing was unable to fully justify his selection in a forgettable performance, though he is not helped by being asked to play on the right flank.
MF Ashley Westwood, 5 -- Should have been sent off for a filthy challenge on James Collins, especially since he had already been booked when he caught the Hammers centre-back with raised studs.
MF Jeff Hendrick, 6 -- Another ineffective performance raised questions about Hendrick's suitability for the team, but perhaps he is not featuring in his preferred role with license to get forward and join attacks.
MF Scott Arfield, 6 -- Uninvolved in the final third for much of the game and should be replaced by Dyche during the transfer window, as his usefulness to the club looks to have expired.
FW Sam Vokes, 7 -- Scored again to pip Gray to the club's top-goal scorer prize by slotting in his 10th league goal to end the season strongly.
FW Andre Gray, 6 -- Showed good awareness to set up Vokes for the hosts' goal, but probably should have converted a decent chance with a more straightforward finish rather than the flick behind his legs he attempted.
MF Johann Gudmundsson, 5 -- Booked for a poor tackle and did not have the same impact from the bench as he did last week, when he provided an assist for Vokes with a fine cross.
FW Ashley Barnes, NR -- Made little impression after coming on for the last 12 minutes.
MF Steven Defour, NR -- Oddly wasteful in possession and delivered poor set pieces in what could be the Belgium international's last appearance for the club.