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Match Reports

Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley

8 April 2017

Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley

Battling Burnley eked out another precious point as they edged edver closer to Premier League safety on a nerve-shredding afternoon on Teesside.

The Clarets are still to win away from home this season after this latest stalemate on their travels.

But three draws away to three of the bottom four clubs in Hull, Sunderland and now Middlesbrough have been valuable currency in looking to achieve the objective of sustaining top-flight football.

Sean Dyche's side has conceded just one goal in those three games and they made it back-to-back clean sheets thanks to another never-say-die defensive performance backed up by one world-class save from Tom Heaton.

Tom Heaton saves magnificently from Negredo

Not that this was a complete backs-to-the-wall effort against a Boro team in desperate need of a win to revive their own flagging survival hopes.

The Clarets also took the fight to the home side and went close to winning it through Robbie Brady and Sam Vokes.

But the two sides that slogged it out for the Champonship title last season could not be separated this time - the outcome again favouring Burnley, though, as they climbed back up to 12th in the table.

The Clarets had made two changes to the side that ended their seven-game winless run with Tueday night's vital 1-0 victory over Stoke City.

Ashley Barnes returned in place of Vokes and Brady started for the first time in five games as the replacement for the injured Steven Defour.

And it was Brady who went close to giving Burnley an early lead.

A foul by Daniel Ayala on Barnes allowed Brady a set-piece opportunity and from almost 25 yards the Republic of Ireland international cipped the top of the crossbar with a fine attempt.

Burnley's other side of goal in a cagey first half fell George Boyd's way.

But the match-winning hero against Stoke couldn't repeat the magic as he snatched at an effort after controlling a low cross from Matt Lowton and sliced his shot wide of the target.

Middlesbrough - the lowest scorers in the division - are fast running out of time to try and avoid an instant return to the Championship after going 13 games without a win following their mid-week 4-2 beating at Hull City.

Stand-in manager Steve Agnew reacted by making four changes, including the omission of top scorer Alvaro Negredo, but still the Teessiders couldn't find a way to goal.

They asked questions of Burnley's back four with a succession of balls aimed towards former Blackburn Rovers striker Rudy Gestede.

But again the Clarets stood strong to spare Heaton having to make a save before the break, which came a minute after a flashpoint in the Boro goalmouth.

Stephen Ward was penalised for a shove on Antonio Barragan as Brady prepared to take a Burnley corner but it was not until after play had re-started with a free-kick that Ward was booked, seemingly following the intervention of fourth official Paul Tierney.

Heaton was finally called into action two minutes after the re-start, dropping to his right to gather a header from Gestede after Grant Leadbitter had lifted the ball into the box.

But that was nothing compared with the chance the Clarets fashioned with their best football and chance of the game with almost an hour gone.

Ward's excellent run down the left was matched by Barnes' dummy from the full-back's low cross and as Brady ran onto the ball just inside the penalty area, his side-footed effort flew only inches wide of the target.

That was the catalyst for the Clarets' best spell yet as they pushed Boro back, Ben Mee testing Victor Valdes from a Brady corner.

But out the blue Boro nearly struck at the other end.

Agnew had sent on Negredo in a desperate bid to find a goal and the former Manchester City man would have done so but for a sensational save from Heaton.

Negredo made perfect contact with a flying volley from Stewart Downing's cross but Heaton reacted superbly to plunge to his left and stick out a hand to deny the Spain international, who showed his admiration with a tap on the goalkeeper's shoulder.

Burnley also made a change up front with Vokes replacing Andre Gray as the Clarets also went for the win.

And with 16 minutes to go Vokes almost broke the deadlock, forcing Valdes into a smart stop after stabbing the ball goalwards following another magnificent run from Ward.

There was still time for more drama, though, Matt Lowton clearing off the line twice in a matter of seconds to keep Boro out as the passion and tension intensified in a raucous Riverside Stadium.

Matt Lowton clears Downing's free kick off the line.

The defender first touched a Downing free-kick  - given after Micheal Keane had brought down ex-Burnley loanee Patrick Bamford - around the post and then hacked the ball away from Ayala's header from the corner that followed.

Burnley - for whom Joey Barton was a huge calming influence in a massive team effort - simply refused to budge and while the away win will have to wait, this was without doubt a big result on the road.

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Ayala, Gibson, Barragan, Bernardo (Bamford 82), Leadbitter, Clayton, Forshaw, Stuani (Negredo 58), Downing, Gestede (Traore 68). Substitutes: Guzan, Fischer, Fry, De Roon.

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee, Ward, Boyd, Hendrick, Barton, Brady, Barnes (Tarkowski 90), Gray (Vokes 62). Substitutes: Pope, Flanagan, Westwood, Agyei, Arfield.

Booked: Ward, Barnes

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Att: 29,547 (1,848)

Attendance: 29,547

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