Ashley Barnes nets late winner to send Burnley fourth
Sean Dyche’s side flying high above Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs after win over Stoke
Burnley’s Ashley Barnes celebrates after scoring the winner in their Premier League clash with Stoke City. Photo: Paul Ellis/Getty Images
Burnley 1 Stoke City 0
Ashley Barnes grabbed a late winner as Burnley reached the dizzy heights of fourth place. In doing so Sean Dyche’s side took the club to their highest position in the top flight for 42 years when the Clarets were second in the old First Division in March 1975.
Burnley are now behind only Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City on 31 points and above Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, at least for 24 hours.
The defeat for Stoke, who remain in 15th place, piles more pressure on Mark Hughes, who was booed by his owns fans near the end for his decision to take off Xherdan Shaqiri for Eric Choupo-Mouting.
Dyche picked an unchanged side from the 1-0 win over Watford. Hughes, though, reacted to the 5-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur by making three changes, with Ramadan Sobhi, Peter Crouch and Geoff Cameron coming in for Thomas Edwards, Kevin Wimmer, and Choupo-Mouting.
There was a late arrival of fans but Turf Moor was still noticeably below capacity despite the chance to see Burnley move into the top four if they took three points. Goals have been few and far between here this season, with only nine goals in eight previous league games, six of them scored by Burnley. This hardly augured well for Hughes’s bid to arrest a slump during which his side have won only three of their last 15 games.
Yet, inside three minutes, Crouch might have given them the lead. Sobi drifted in from the left and crossed, James Tarkowski flapped, and Nick Pope had to beat the danger away via his left post with Crouch ready to pounce.
This was sloppy from the Clarets and they were caught slumbering again moments later. Shaqiri swung a corner in from the left and as Burnley ball-watched Kurt Zouma had time to volley but his effort was straight at Pope, who gathered the ball.
Gradually, Dyche’s men settled and started to enjoy more possession. Tarkowski swept a sweet ball out to the left and though the move broke down Stoke’s early promise had vanished as the contest became a stodgy battle of attrition in and around midfield.
Just before the half hour Burnley won a first corner. Johann Berg Gudmundsson took it from the left, but an intended short stab of ball to Steven Defour instead went to Joe Allen. It summed up the drab fare on offer and will not have impressed the watching Gareth Southgate, the England manager perhaps here to run the rule over Stoke’s Jack Butland and Jack Cork of Burnley.
After Hughes’s team camped near Pope’s goal for a period, it was Burnley’s turn to attack and win a rare free-kick. Gudmundsson took this and Tarkowski’s header yielded a corner. Again, though, there was disappointment as Gudmundsson’s delivery went awry and the threat fizzled out.
Now came the move of the half – Defour turned Stoke’s defence with a neat inside pass for the onrushing left-back, Stephen Ward, but though his cross was in the right area Chris Wood could not connect.
Then from another Burnley corner the ball dropped to Scott Arfield on the edge of the area but his shot was blocked. Gudmundsson sent a curled effort wide from the rebound.
The second half began in near freezing temperatures and with Burnley occupying the Stoke left. Too often, though, the ball was hoofed skyward in hope rather than craft. It felt, really, like a contest that might turn on a mistake and be won by the odd goal.
So far, though, there had been only errors. A spritely Burnley attack foundered when Arfield ceded the ball too easily, drawing disappointed “oohs” from the home crowd. Kevin Long then slipped to allow Stoke’s Darren Fletcher a run down the left but the defender recovered.
After an injured Zouma had to be replaced by Wimmer, Dyche swapped Jeff Hendrick for Barnes. This proved a masterstroke as he fired the ball past Butland for what, in the end, felt the right result.
It was just a shame that only 19,909 were here to witness this slice of Burnley history. – Guardian service