Burnley 1 Crystal Palace 0
Junior Stanislas came in from the cold to fire the Clarets closer to the play-off race as the high-flying Eagles had their wings clipped at Turf Moor.
Stanislas hadn’t started a game since November but was rewarded for a two-goal performance for the Development Squad in mid-week with a return to frontline action.
And the winger repaid manager Sean Dyche’s hunch with a superb 81st-minute winner to take Burnley into the top ten.
With Charlie Austin still absent Burnley needed a match-winner and Stanislas grabbed the mantle in the nick of time to propel Dyche’s men to a third win in four Championship games.
Just as the Clarets looked as though they would have only a point to show for a top-notch performance against a Palace side hoping to reclaim a top-two place, Stanislas’ number was ready to go up as he felt the onset of cramp.
But Dyche left him on just long enough to make the difference with his stunning strike making it the perfect start to 2013 at Turf Moor.
A minute's silence for the 'Clarets family' before kick-off
With the Clarets’ three leading scorers – Austin, Martin Paterson and Chris McCann – all sidelined through injury, the onus was placed elsewhere for a source of goals against a Palace side boasting the Championship’s leading marksman in Glenn Murray.
And while plenty of Dyche’s side were prepared to step up and take responsibility, none could deliver the killer blow in a first half totally dominated by the Clarets.
Bar an early scare when Murray almost curled one in after Burnley had been caught on the break and Wilfried Zaha – reportedly a transfer target for Manchester United – cut in to warm the hands of Lee Grant, it was virtually one-way traffic towards the Palace goal.
Ian Holloway’s side had lost only two of their previous nine league games in their pursuit of a promotion place but must have gone into the break happy not to have been cast adrift.
That said, Burnley were guilty of not being ruthless enough in front of goal as Palace keeper Julian Speroni wasn’t forced into one meaningful save in a one-sided opening half.
Danny Ings threatens before the break
The Clarets’ outstanding approach play wasn’t matched by their finishing as Sam Vokes and Danny Ings lifted early efforts over the top.
Stanislas weaved his way into the penalty area without pulling the trigger and then when he crossed for Ings, the forward’s header flew wide of the target.
Kieran Trippier might have expected a busy afternoon in keeping Zaha quiet but it was the Clarets’ full-back who carried the greater attacking threat and as well as a stream of top-quality crosses also fired a shot just wide as Vokes just failed to get a touch.
Palace also struggled to deal with Ross Wallace’s raids down the right flank and when Wallace picked out Dean Marney with a peach of a pass with just over half an hour gone it should have led to better.
Marney elected to pick out Ings with a pass pulled back from the by-line but the lively Ings couldn’t muster the power to beat Speroni and the Palace keeper must have been relieved again when confusion in the visitors’ back line gave Stanislas a chance he failed to convert nine minutes before half time.
Perhaps inevitably Palace wouldn’t allow themselves be so second-best throughout and a more purposeful start to the second half saw Dean Moxey curl an effort just wide and highly rated winger Yannick Bolasie begin to the make an impact.
David Edgar digs in
But Burnley continued to make chances and Vokes should have made more of a sumptuous cross from Danny Lafferty before a ball in from the opposite side from Trippier saw an under-pressure Marney head at Speroni with an hour gone.
A mis-kick from Andre Moritz gave the Clarets a let-off at the other end and Burnley’s goal led a charmed life as David Edgar, back in the side in place of the suspended Brian Stock, was forced to block after Zaha, who infuriated the home supporters by going to ground easily, was a awarded a soft free-kick for a trip by Edgar.
Suddenly Palace sensed the possibility of a first away win since early November as the Clarets began to run out of steam and Dyche prepared to send on fresh legs.
But fortunately he delayed the change just long enough for Stanislas to win it for the Clarets with a fantastic strike.
Much of the credit should go to Ings for tirelessly chasing down Palace defender Damian Delaney and forcing a crossing opportunity but Stanislas still had plenty to do when the ball dropped him to 20 yards from goal.
Faced by a wall of out-rushing yellow shirts, the winger took his time, picked his spot and curled a beauty into the top corner to confirm the Clarets’ status as serious top-six contenders with his third goal of the season.
The boss drives the Clarets forward
Five minutes of injury time made it a nervy finish as a fantastic save from Speroni denied the persevering Vokes as he met yet another Trippier cross with a thundering shot on the turn.
And with seconds to go Palace nearly nicked an unlikely equaliser with a lob from Mile Jedinak dropping onto the crossbar following a corner.
But Burnley, with Michael Duff and captain Jason Shackell rock-solid at the centre of their defence, deservedly held out before celebrating a potentially pivotal victory.
Burnley: Grant, Trippier, Lafferty, Duff, Shackell, Edgar, Marney, Ings, Wallace (Bartley 82), Vokes, Stanislas (Treacy 82). Subs: Richards, O’Neill, MacDonald, Long, Jensen.
Booked: Treacy 90
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Parr, Ramage, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, O’Keefe (Nimely 82), Bolasie (Wilbraham 90), Zaha, Murray, Moritz (Williams 69). Subs: Easter, Parsons, Gabbidon, Price.
Referee: Gavin Ward.