Date: 17th February 2016 at 12:43pm
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Looking at the wreckage of the weekend’s football, I didn’t think a quote from a lad from Padiham would stick with me.

Burnley goalscoring legend Andy Payton threw his backing behind Andre Gray after the striker missed a crucial penalty at the Madjeski stadium.

Many moons ago, when the Clarets were in the old division two, the frontman failed to convert from the spot himself in a defeat to Notts County with Burnley pushing for promotion. The club still went up that year and Payton called for Gray not to dwell on the failure to score.

The miss explains the Reading players’ efforts to recreate scenes from Martin Keown on Ruud van Nistelrooy after the Dutchman missed at Old Trafford. What it doesn’t explain is Hal Robson-Kanu digging up the spot before Gray took the kick – disgusting behaviour from a professional team.

Dyche called it ‘bizarre and unacceptable’ – he had a point.

25th April 2015 - Barclays Premier League - Burnley v Leicester City - Burnley manger Sean Dyche - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.

Burnley manger Sean Dyche was bemused by the goings-on against Reading on Saturday.

“He would say that,” said Reading’s Jonathan Obita. On Gray’s tumble the defender added, “It was embarrassing. Even their own players were saying that.”

What was embarrassing was the state of the Reading pitch that wouldn’t look out of place in the Lancashire local leagues.

Wise after the event and all that, but I have not been overly convinced by Gray’s penalties this season – in my eyes he is more of an instinctive striker who struggles when he has time to think about what he has to do with the ball.

This is much in the mould of a Craig Bellamy who once admitted he struggled when he had time to think about his strike, rather than just instinctively hitting the thing.

“Not bad for £27 million quid.” Dyche has even started to take the mickey out of himself regarding the ever-inflating transfer fee on Gray’s head.

The way the Burnley manager has handled the striker has been superb, though. The price tag could easily have been a deadweight on the former non-league man’s shoulders, but one thing is for certain, Andre Gray will be playing in the Premier League next season.

30 January 2016 FA Cup fourth round : Arsenal v Burnley : Andre Gray of Burnley leaves Kieran Gibbs on the floor. Photo: Mark Leech

Will Andre Gray be plying his trade in the Premier League next season whatever happens to Burnley?

The return of 18 goals in 26 games this season is a fantastic record and you would surmise that he will go and score another 10 before now and May.

With Gray and Sam Vokes leading the line, the Clarets should not fear anyone in the race for the title, they are the best pairing outside the top-flight, without question.

I have kept my eye on Vokes in recent games and after criticising the Welshman for carrying some extra timber in recent articles, it is evident he needs minutes on the pitch and is the perfect foil for the former Brentford man.

Sometimes you can throw a lot of stats at these things. Sean Dyche does, he rarely leaves anything to chance.

I have been on hand to witness four out of Burnley’s last five games since my last article; the overriding theme from those matches was the togetherness of Dyche’s team. That starts up top with the front two chasing down every blade of grass for the team.

Any Burnley fan will tell you a team managed by Neil Warnock is a difficult proposition, so when Rotherham roll into Turf Moor I expect the Clarets to win, but only by the odd goal.

With neither Hull nor Middlesbrough playing league football this weekend, it is a chance to put real pressure on a top two that are taking it in turns to blow money on average players, points and games in hand.

 
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