Burnley 1 Stoke City 0: George Boyd's winner pulls Clarets away from relegation zone

Steven Sutcliffe
The Telegraph
Boyd puts Burnley ahead - Rex Features
Boyd puts Burnley ahead - Rex Features

Burnley may seldom dominate Premier League matches but they will not care for on home soil at least, staunch defiance, resolve and determination has translated into the points that will now surely ensure their preservation as a top flight club beyond this season.

This 1-0 victory over Stoke, which should act as a welcome precursor to fulfilling that objective represented the accumulation of their highest ever points tally in the Premier League.

Lessons have been learned by Sean Dyche and his players from their last foray into the big league and their home form of course has been stunning. Thirty-three of their current thirty-five point total have been earned at Turf Moor.

When Burnley defeated Leicester at the end of January, moving up to ninth in the Premier League, with a ten point cushion from the relegation zone it was difficult to imagine a fraught conclusion to this season. 

Since then however their passage has been arduous and while Sean Dyche has  fittingly played down expectations, eight games without a victory, if their FA Cup humbling to Lincoln is to be included and just three points from the last twenty-one available prior to kick-off, were indicative of a team crawling rather than cantering towards survival. 

<span>Burnley's players celebrate</span> <span>Credit: Rex Features </span>
Burnley's players celebrate Credit: Rex Features

Stoke are hardly high fliers away from the Potteries yet they met the abrasive aspects of this contest head-on in a steely streetwise fashion. In fact at one stage both teams appeared to take pleasure in larruping the ball as high and as far as it would possibly carry in the Lancashire wind. 

And once a largely inconsequential opening twenty minutes had elapsed, it appeared that Burnley’s much vaunted home form had deserted them with the  visitor’s obtaining a measure of control and carrying the greater threat. 

Saido Berahino sent Marko Arnautovic racing clear in the 29th minute but a  poor second touch saw Austrian admonish himself as the chance disappeared. At the other end Andre Gray was snuffed out by Ryan Shawcross as he tried  to unload a shot. 

Stoke then enjoyed a flurry of opportunities before the interval. Charlie Adam, suddenly sparkling, glanced a header that was smothered by Tom  Heaton. Moments later the Scottish midfielder strode through a challenge to  warm the palms of the Burnley goalkeeper.

<span>Mark Hughes trudges off after a third straight defeat in the league</span> <span>Credit: PA </span>
Mark Hughes trudges off after a third straight defeat in the league Credit: PA

As the half drew to an end, Berahino again cleverly released Arnautovic, who erroneously committed the same offence as earlier, this time refusing  to take on the responsibility of a shot on his weaker left foot. 

That tone continued into the second period. Arnautovic and Adam were again the main protagonists failing to find the target within two minutes of each other. Mark Hughes’s team merited an advantage, instead though they found themselves behind by the 58th minute.

Republic of Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick, who at one stage this season was Burnley’s record signing, set-off on a slaloming run down the left and when he cut the ball back, George Boyd, a ubiquitous figure for the Clarets, swept his shot beyond Lee Grant.

It was a goal that turned the tide and deflated Stoke. Not even the arrival of Peter Crouch could summon a revival as Burnley held out.

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