Stephen Cummings: A bridge too far for depleted Burnley
WELL, what do you know? Turns out this Burnley team is fallible after all.
Fair play to Nigel Pearson and his seemingly unstoppable Leicester City side.
They rolled up at Turf Moor, put in a professional display and proved themselves worthy winners.
But let’s have it right: if ever there was a day that the Clarets’ outstanding 23-game undefeated home record, stretching back over a year, was likely to tumble, then this was surely it.
Pre-match, the game was billed as a head-to-head clash between the division’s titans.
But somewhere towards the bottom of the small-print, there should have been a disclaimer pointing out that the tie would be anything but an even contest.
Burnley began the afternoon without the stricken Danny Ings, scorer of 20 of Burnley’s 64 Championship goals this season.
Also absent through injury, was the division’s leading assist-maker and creator of 12 of that grand total, Kieran Trippier.
And as if that were not bad fortune enough, the booking Dean Marney picked up in the win over Doncaster last Tuesday ruled him out, meaning the Clarets were without one of their most pivotal and consistent performers of this campaign.
Confirmation that fate was intent on sticking the boot in arrived just eight minutes into the game, when Sam Vokes jarred his knee and went to ground as though taken out by a sniper hidden just behind the director’s box. The strapping Welshman went off. And so did another 20 goals.
This was not so much a case of Burnley boxing with one hand tied behind their back, rather than doing so blindfolded and hopping on one leg.
Compare and contrast with the Foxes. When Jamie Vardy succumbed to injury on 34 minutes, Pearson was able to replace him with Chris Wood, who himself went on to kill the game with a superbly executed strike.
Midway through the second period, Leicester were also able to introduce Gary Taylor-Fletcher to proceedings.
In fact so flush are City with strikers, Kevin Phillips couldn’t even make the bench. And that’s without even making mention of tormentor-in-chief, David Nugent, who notched his sixth goal in eight matches against the Clarets.
The home record may have gone, and Sean Dyche’s troops may be bloodied and battered, but the finishing line draws ever closer.
The most Burnley will need is 11 points from the final seven matches. Having averaged just short of two points per game so far, only a fool would bet against them.
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