Burnley 1 Stoke City 0
George Boyd’s top-class finish secured a vital win for the Clarets as they set a new Premier League benchmark.
Boyd’s second goal of the season, calmly tucked away just when Burnley needed it most, took them beyond the 33 points they totalled in their last top-flight season.
And while that 2014/15 campaign ended in relegation, Boyd’s 58th-minute strike edged Sean Dyche’s side ever closer to safety this time around as a first win in eight league games took them to 35 points and back up to 12th place in the table – eight points clear of the drop-zone.
The goal also gave Burnley a remarkable 10th home league win as Turf Moor once more proved un-breachable as the backdrop to a performance full of grit and determination to earn one of the biggest results of the season.
Dyche’s bid to halt the winless run saw him bring back both Sam Vokes and Steven Defour to the Clarets’ starting line-up.
Defour’s appearance was his first start since limping off with a hamstring injury in the win over champions Leicester City at the end of January – Burnley’s last victory.
And the Belgium international was the Clarets’ most creative player in a first half full of passion but short on chances.
Stoke hadn’t scored in their previous four away games and their lack of confidence in front of goal was apparent in two openings for Marko Arnautovic.
The Austrian international was guilty of a terrible first touch to waste the first as he broke clear on goal.
Joey Barton started his 250th Premier League game
And when he had another chance to break into the box a minute before half-time, he opted to try and pick out Saido Berahino rather than go for goal himself.
That apart, play-maker Charlie Adam carried Stoke’s biggest threat, heading at Tom Heaton from a corner and then warming the hands of the Clarets’ keeper with a fierce left-foot drive.
Burnley had little joy themselves in front of goal, Vokes not seeing enough of the ball in the penalty area where a pulled shirt from Geoff Cameron might have earned him a spot-kick if spotted by referee Kevin Friend.
And the Clarets’ best opening came Andre Gray’s way nine minutes before the break as the striker almost got in behind the Stoke defence to telling effect before his shot was blocked by Ryan Shawcross.
Burnley looked to raise the tempo at the start of the second half and after Stoke twice went close to breaking the deadlock through Adam and Arnautovic, it was Boyd who stepped up to get the all-important first goal with almost an hour gone.
Dyche had just sent on Brady in place of a tiring Defour but it was countryman Jeff Hendrick who made the decisive run, weaving his way into the box and picking out Boyd for a smart first-time finish with a low left-footed shot past former Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant from 12 yards out.
Boyd’s first goal since December could not have been better timed to ease the tension around Turf Moor and Hendrick almost added to the feel-good factor with a deflected shot which had Grant scrambling to save.
Stoke replaced Berahino with Peter Crouch in a change of tack up front as they looked to avoid an unwanted club record of failing to score for a fifth Premier League game in a row.
But the Clarets dug deep and defended magnificently to restrict the impact of the former England man to secure a defiant clean sheet and hit double figures for home wins on what felt like a defining night.
Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Hendrick, Barton, Defour (Brady 57), Vokes (Tarkowski 85), Gray (Barnes 77). Substitutes: Pope, Agyei, Arfield, Westwood.
Booked: Ward, Barton, Boyd
Stoke City: Grant, Muniesa, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters, Cameron, Adam, Allen (Afellay 85), Arnautovic, Diouf, Berahino (Crouch 71). Substitutes: Given, Whelan, Johnson, Imbula, Sobhi.
Booked: Adam, Martins Indi
Referee: Kevin Friend