George Boyd nets winner as Burnley move closer to safety

04 April 2017 10:09

George Boyd's first-time finish put Burnley well on the way to Premier League safety as they ended an eight-match winless streak with victory over Stoke at Turf Moor.

Sean Dyche's Clarets had sunk back into the relegation story in recent weeks, having last tasted success against Leicester on January 31, but Boyd swept home his second of the season in the 58th minute, after good work from Jeff Hendrick, to earn a 1-0 win and some much-needed breathing space.

On 35 points with seven to play, Burnley have also overtaken their previous high watermark in the top flight - having gone down with 33 two years ago.

For Stoke it was a night of wasted opportunities, most notably Marko Arnautovic, who spurned a series of presentable chances with uncharacteristically sloppy footwork.

The first half suffered from a stark lack on inspiration in the final third but Stoke would still have counted themselves unlucky not to be in front at the interval.

That they were not was down primarily to Arnautovic's dreadful control around the box.

The Austrian playmaker is capable of dominating games like this when the mood takes him but that was emphatically not the case here. He squandered his first sight of goal after just five minutes, surprising even himself as he failed to bring the ball to heel.

Just before the half-hour Burnley were caught short at the back after a poor Steven Defour corner, with Charlie Adam and Saido Berahino combining to slip through Arnautovic.

At the very moment he looked to be eyeing up his spot he instead produced an errant touch and sent the ball trickling through to a grateful Tom Heaton.

And he completed a hat-trick of howlers just before the break after Berahino's clever touch put him through in the area, a weak connection and Joey Barton's intervention to blame on this occasion.

Elsewhere it was essentially a showcase for the central defensive arts. Michael Keane and Ben Mee threw their boots, bodies or heads at the ball whenever required, while Marc Muniesa offered a slightly more cultured take on the job at the other end.

Adam was also doing his best to make an impact on his first appearance since February 26. First he worked Heaton with a glancing header and then warmed his hands with a 25-yard drive.

Adam's second-half began rather less well, falling over attempting to take a corner then being penalised for handball as he scrambled to make amends.

He had a glorious chance to reclaim the high ground, racing into the area to meet Arnautovic's cutback only to steer wide as Defour applied pressure from behind.

Burnley soaked up one more chance - Arnautovic heading wide after another tee-up from Berahino - before forging an unlikely riposte.

Hendrick showed the spark of intent to burrow his way past a couple of weak challenges and lay the killer pass for Boyd, who swept home left-footed from 10 yards to leave Stoke flummoxed.

The goal lifted the Turf Moor crowd and the home team as a whole, with Dyche's precisely-drilled defence keeping the Potters at bay in a busy but unrefined denouement.

Source: PA


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