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14:43 1st May 2010


The Clarets' miserable away campaign ended in all too familiar style as two first-half goals allowed Birmingham to celebrate a record unbeaten run at St Andrew's.

The two clubs were promoted together last season yet while Birmingham have kicked on towards a top-ten finish, Burnley's return to the Championship was confirmed a week ago.

That left Brian Laws's side with only pride and a potential cash windfall of £750,000 for finishing a place higher to compete for.

But that was insufficient to spark some late consolation on the road as a Brian Jensen own-goal and a Chucho effort confirmed a 17th-away defeat for a side still feeling the pain of relegation.

The Clarets looked understandably jaded but to their credit didn't fold when the game looked beyond them and Steven Thompson came off the bench to score a late goal which propels them into next weekend's finale against Tottenham with the chance to make it a fond farewell.

Steven Caldwell returned for the Clarets to start his first game since December and the re-assuring presence of the skipper was needed from the start as the Blues pressed for an early goal.

Steven Thompson celebrates his late goal

After only a minute Lee Bowyer headed just wide from a Jerome cross and then when Jerome slipped Chucho through, it took an excellent block from Caldwell to deny the pacy Ecuadorian.

The Blues were always lively going forward and when they forced a corner just seconds after defending one at the other end, James McFadden delivered for Jerome to head just over the top.

Jerome and Cucho were a constant handful and when Chucho crossed low for his striking colleague only an exceptional save from Brian Jensen at his near post stopped the Blues' leading scorer from adding to his tally.

The Clarets had their moments going forward with Martin Paterson delivering a string of threatening crosses from the right.

But the build-up was often too deliberate and despite having plenty of possession, the only save they forced Joe Hart to make in the opening half was a comfortable catch from Jack Cork's long-range effort.

Heads you win

And perhaps inevitably the Blues did go in front with half an hour gone as Burnley equalled Wimbledon's top-flight record of 26 successive games without keeping a clean sheet.

The goal was credited to Jensen but the Clarets keeper was blameless in deflecting the ball into the net after Jerome had flung himself at a Bowyer header and made strong contact with his chest after Seb Larsson had whipped a dangerous cross into the six-yard box.

To make matters worse, the Clarets then went into the break 2-0 down as Chucho scored his first goal at St Andrew's in the 41st-minute.

A free-kick decision against Caldwell looked a little harsh but Burnley were then guilty of failing to deal with McFadden's delivery as Roger Johnson headed down for birthday boy Chucho to bundle the ball home from close range.

The Clarets had to come out and show some fight in the second half and they started in the right manner with Steven Fletcher twice gong close.

The Scot rattled a fierce drive just over the bar and then tested Hart with another well-struck left-footer from outside the penalty area.

Cameron Jerome celebrates the first goal

But the Blues, looking to set a club record of 15 home games without defeat as a top-flight club, then stirred themselves again and threatened to increase their lead as Chucho fired just past the post and then crossed for Larsson to crash a volley wide of the target.

Cucho could well have had a hat-trick but saw another chance go to waste when Leon Cort blocked his shot and with the result seemingly no longer in the balance the Blues lacked the ruthlessness to punish Burnley further.

And with the Clarets keeping going doggedly to the end they made it a nervy finale for the home side as superb-sub Thompson struck three minutes from the end.

Thompson has made a big impact from the bench during the closing weeks of the season and did it again as he ran onto a pass from the ever-impressive Cork to slide the ball calmly past Hart for his third goal in five appearances.

And Chucho the second

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Fox, Cort, Caldwell, Alexander (McDonald 85), Cork, Elliott, Nugent (Blake 65), Fletcher (Thompson 68), Paterson. Subs: Duff, Rodriguez, Bikey, Weaver.

Birmingham: Hart, Parnaby (Fahey 79), Vignal, Johnson, Ridgewell, Larsson, Bowyer, Ferguson, McFadden (Michel 66), Jerome (Carsley 90), Chucho. Subs: Murphy, Tainio, Redmond, Taylor.

Referee: Peter Walton

Attendance: 24,578

Booked: Burnley Fox 50

Birmingham: Parnaby 56, Vignal 65

Jack Cork gives his all

    Data provided by Press Association