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21:56 15th February 2011


Super sub Steven Thompson returned to Cardiff to dent his former club's automatic promotion hopes and keep the Clarets snapping away at the heels of the play-off pack.

The former City striker rose from the bench to head home an equaliser seven minutes from time as Burnley showed they will fight all the way to keep alive their top-six dream.

Thompspn heads home...

... Michael Duff starts the celebrations...

... and Thompson wheels away in delight

Having fallen behind to a Chopra goal in first-half injury time, Eddie Howe's men dominated the second half and got their reward when Thompson converted from a corner to continue the Clarets' impressive away run.

With just one defeat in seven games since Howe took charge last month, his charges used their game in hand to close the gap on the play-off zone to five points.

And having more than matched a side with aspirations to go up as champions, the Clarets again turned in the kind of away performance that will send them into their FA Cup tie at West Ham United in upbeat mood.

In what was always likely to be one of the Clarets' sternest examinations since the arrival of Howe, they had to weather a predictable early storm from the home side.

Chris Eagles takes the fight to Cardiff

Cardiff, having had to wait 85 minutes to get the better of struggling Scunthorpe United last Saturday, came flying out of the blocks in their bid to close the gap on league leaders Queens Park Rangers.

It was all hands on deck for Burnley but while Ross Wallace did well in tracking back to help out his defensive colleagues, the winger almost created an opening goal for the Bluebirds after just seven minutes.

Having to clear with his right foot, Wallace succeeded only in picking out Chopra who let fly from 18 yards with a shot which crashed off the bar.

Cardiff were getting forward in numbers with Peter Whittingham and Chris Burke joining in from the sides and ex-Burnley loanee Whittingham went close five minutes later with a curling effort which Lee Grant saved at full stretch.

For the Clarets it was a case of hanging in there and drawing Cardiff's sting and having successfully done that they began to pose a threat of their own from the mid-way point of the first half.

Clarke Carlisle climbs above Jay Bothroyd

The in-form Chris Eagles led the counter-attack, firing just wide after 21 minutes and then twice within a matter of moments around the half-hour mark almost putting Burnley ahead.

First he fired at goalkeeper Tom Heaton from Jack Cork's clever pull-back and then after Tyrone Mears had kept the move alive, controlled a pass from the full-back and pulled the trigger again for a goalbound shot which was blocked by Dekel Keinan.

The lively Burke crashed a volley just wide in response but the Clarets, growing in confidence, gave as good as they got and were only 60 seconds away from going into the break on level terms before Chopra struck to put Cardiff 1-0 up.

Chopra and strike partner Jay Bothroyd had been well marshalled but when Bothroyd made room to cross in stoppage time, Chopra pounced to chest the ball down and volley home from six yards out.

The goal was a body blow to Burnley but incredibly they could still have been level by half-time as they went straight up the other end where Eagles connected following a Wallace corner with a thunderous shot which was flying in until Bothroyd somehow got in the way to block on the line.

Michael Chopra puts Cardiff in front

The Clarets carried that momentum into the start of the second half with Chris Iwelumo laying the ball off for Eagles who again tested Heaton with a first-time effort from the edge of the penalty area.

But Cardiff were not prepared to let their lead go easily and despite increasingly dominating possession, Burnley continually ran into a solid wall of blue shirts.

The persistence of Iwelumo and Eagles did create a half chance for the former but Mark Hudson got back to squeeze Iwelumo's short wide for a corner.

Iwelumo is denied by Hudson

And with 23 minutes to go Howe sent on Charlie Austin to try and get the Clarets back into the game with his first goal for the club.

Cardiff made a double change at the same time as Craig Bellamy replaced Chopra and Darcy Blake came on at right-back in place of Paul Quinn.

And Blake's first touch was almost a disastrous one as his attempted clearance from a Mears' cross was sliced just wide of the goal as the Clarets pressed for an equaliser.

Ex-Bluebird Thompson was added to the mix as the Clarets went for broke but it took a superb save from Grant to keep their hopes alive as dangerman Bothroyd again used his strength to turn and shoot towards the bottom corner with just over ten minutes to go.

But Steven Thompson has the last word

And the value of that stop was underlined four minutes later when Thompson struck to earn the Clarets a precious point.

The striker had been given a warm welcome by the Cardiff supporters as he entered the fray but then silenced the home crowd as he made a perfect run to the near post to meet a Wallace corner and glance a header, via deflection, into the back of the net for his third and most valuable goal of the season.

Burnley: Grant, Mears, Fox, Duff, Carlisle, Marney (Alexander 90), Cork, Eagles, Iwelumo (Austin 67), Rodriguez (Thompson 74), Wallace. Subs: Elliott, Bartley, Bikey, Jensen.

Booked: Marney 29, Fox 72

Cardiff: Heaton, McNaughton, Hudson, Keinan, Quinn (Blake 67), Whittingham, Burke (Koumas 78), Olofinjana, Chopra (Bellamy 67), Bothroyd, Ramsey. Subs: McPhail, Parkin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Marshall.

Booked: McNaughton 20

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 21,307

A point well made

    Data provided by Press Association