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Season Review: Champions (Part 5)

20 May 2016

The month of April was to prove pivotal and it began with a trip to high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion which was being billed as a six-pointer.

And the Clarets overcame rough justice to register a precious point!

Michael Keane’s first header was ruled out despite being comfortably over the line with the score at 2-1, before the former England U21 rose highest in stoppage time to right the wrong in sensational fashion.

Amid the controversy, Ashley Barnes made his first appearance since a long injury lay-off which provided another boost.

That kept Chris Hughton’s men at arm’s length and a 0-0 draw with a David Marshall-inspired Cardiff City extended the unbeaten run.

Leeds were then gone in 60 seconds as a high intensity start saw Scott Arfield curl one beyond Marco Silvestri for a 1-0 victory in the Roses clash.

Injury time winners for promotion rivals Middlesbrough and Brighton made victory at Birmingham a priority for the Clarets.

And after George Boyd settled the nerves, it was left to the Championship player of the Year to send out a message that Burnley meant business.

He duly delivered, firing home a back post cross to make it 2-1 and send the away end at St Andrews into delirium.

And sometimes what goes around, comes around, as Middlesbrough found to their cost on an electric night at Turf Moor.

Jordan Rhodes has put Boro ahead with 15 minutes remaining, but Michael Keane was there again in injury time to take a share of the spoils.

Roared on by nearly 6,000 travelling fans, a trip to Preston saw them become the latest victims of an unbeaten run that was now entering folklore.

Joey Barton’s early deflected free-kick was enough to secure all three points and the Clarets looked in the driving seat.

The penultimate weekend was decisive in the quest for Premier League football.

Middlesbrough could only manage a 2-2 draw against Birmingham City, before Brighton drew 1-1 with Derby County hours before Burnley entertained QPR.

And like on so many occasions when it’s mattered, Burnley delivered. A tight affair was settled when Sam Vokes headed past Matt Ingram to start the party.

Burnley were back in the big time under the added weight of expectation, and despite rival clubs making this a seemingly endless three-horse race, the job was done.

Victory at Charlton a week later confirmed the title.

They had division’s top goalscorer in Andre Gray, used only 25 players and clocked up 20 clean sheets.

They had remained unbeaten in 2016, setting a new post-war record of 23 league games.

Nobody could deny that Burnley Football Club were worthy Football League champions.

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