Blackpool 0 Burnley 1
Burnley inched closer to the top-flight as Michael Kightly’s second half seaside special made it a very Good Friday at Blackpool.
The on-loan winger’s 49th minute screamer separated the two teams in a scrappy encounter and ensured the Clarets remain eight points clear of third-placed Derby County with just three games remaining.
But Burnley were thankful for a magnificent late headed clearance off the line by Kieran Trippier to guarantee a record-equalling 11th away win and maintain their unbeaten record on the road in 2014.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche made no changes to the side that turned in an impressive performance in the underserved home defeat to Middlesbrough.
Blackpool player-manager Barry Ferguson opted to name himself in the hosts’ starting line-up for the second game running and handed a debut to Harrison McGahey in the heart of defence.
With the travelling Clarets fans in full voice from well before kick-off, the away side started at a blistering pace and searched for an early goal.
Kieran Trippier’s deep cross was cleared only as far as Kightly, who sent a low effort into the arms of Matt Gilks with four minutes gone.
Kightly was thwarted again by Gilks moments later as the winger showed great awareness to get on the end of a wayward back pass and race through on goal, this time denied by the keeper’s legs.
The home side then reminded Burnley of the threat they pose after 18 minutes when David Goodwillie fired a shot high and wide.
The Clarets continued to probe with Danny Ings the next to try his luck.
Scott Arfield played a pass in behind the defence for Marney to chase and, when the energetic midfielder pulled the ball back into the path of Ings, the striker sent a clever shot on the turn into the grasp of Gilks.
Arfield then created another opportunity for the visitors with half an hour gone, playing Ings in behind the home defence for the 21-year-old to test Gilks with a right-footed drive.
Captain Jason Shackell was then forced to make an important interception to divert Isaiah Osbourne’s teasing cross out of the Burnley penalty area as the Tangerines went on the attack ten minutes before the break.
As the first half drew to a close the two sides exchanged efforts but couldn’t break the deadlock.
First, Andy Halliday, a first half replacement for the injured Jack Robinson, headed over the bar, before a deflected effort from Kightly fell comfortably into the hands of Gilks.
But Burnley made the perfect start to the second half when, within the first five minutes, they broke the deadlock.
The impressive Kightly cut in from the right and, following a neat one-two with Dean Marney, sent an unstoppable curling strike beyond Gilks and into the far corner.
Five minutes after the Clarets had taken the lead, play was temporarily stopped in unusual circumstances as home fans decided to bombard the pitch with tennis balls!
The incident was sparked in protest of Blackpool owner Karl Oysten’s running of the club and continued as some fans entered the pitch, with one appearing to throw a tennis ball at referee Michael Oliver.
After the protests had been cleared, the contest took a while to spring back into life, with no clear cut chances falling for either team in the next 20 minutes.
Blackpool tried to find an equaliser; however, second half substitute Stephen Dobbie’s wild attempt after 79 minutes never looked like testing Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal.
With the home side pushing men forward, space began to open up for the Clarets as Ashley Barnes went close to doubling Burnley’s advantage.
The striker met Ben Mee’s cross, however, couldn’t divert his header below the bar with Gilks having committed himself without reaching the ball.
Blackpool piled the pressure on in the final few minutes and it needed Trippier to make an acrobatic diving headed clearance to keep out a fierce goal-bound volley in the dying seconds.
And Burnley’s backline held strong with no further alarms to chalk up another potentially decisive win.
Burnley: Heaton, Mee, Duff, Shackell, Trippier, Kightly (Stanislas, 68), Marney (Baird, 82), Jones, Arfield, Barnes, Ings (Edgar, 90+)
Subs not used: Cisak, Wallace, Long, Treacy
Goals: Kightly 49
Booked: Marney, Jones
Blackpool: Gilks, McMahon, McGahey, Cathcart, Robinson (Halliday, 43), Basham, Osbourne (Dobbie, 71), Ferguson, Perkins, Bishop, Goodwillie (Almond, 56)
Subs not used: Haroun, Grandin, Barkhuizen, Keogh
Booked: Osbourne, McMahon
Referee: M. Oliver