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Match Reports

Burnley 1 Stoke City 0

Ashley Barnes comes off the bench to fire the Clarets into the top four

12 December 2017

Ashley Barnes struck a dramatic late winner to send Burnley into the top four of the Premier League as Sean Dyche’s men refused to have their charge up the table blown off course.

On a wild and wintry night at Turf Moor, Barnes came off the bench to lash home the 89th-minute goal which for one night at least put the Clarets in a Champions League slot.

The striker’s second goal of the season was enough to earn a fourth victory in five home games as Burnley once again found a way to win and take themselves beyond the 30-point mark with only 17 games gone.

It was never pretty in conditions hardly condusive to the kind of football that has seen Dyche’s side sweep towards their highest league placing since March, 1975.

But once more the Clarets – with another re-shuffled back four that included Premier League debutant Charlie Taylor for all bar the opening 40 minutes – refused to give anything away.

And a combination of a sixth clean sheet at Turf Moor – where only three goals have been conceded all season – and a bit of brilliance from Barnes was enough to leave Stoke in trouble at the other end of the table and the Clarets looking only upwards.

Incredibly, Stoke hadn’t won a top-flight game away from home on a Tuesday night since 1906.

That run of 53 matches included 40 defeats and after losing three of their last four games – including a 5-1 beating at Tottenham last Saturday – they were desperate to re-write history.

And the visitors started the better with Peter Crouch, handed just a third league start of the season and an obvious and willing target for his team-mates, volleying against the foot of a post from a tight angle after James Tarkowski had failed to cut out Ramadan’s cross from the defender's only slip of the night in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate.

On-loan defender Kurt Zouma then volleyed straight into the arms of a grateful Nick Pope from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner before the Clarets were able to try and get a foothold in the game.

Steven Defour did his best to coax Burnley into life in the foul conditions but it was hard going against the elements and the towering figures of Stoke’s central defensive pairing of Zouma and Ryan Shawcross.

The Clarets found chances hard to come by and the nearest they came to breaking the deadlock before half-time was a curling effort from Johann Berg Gudmundsson which flew wide after a volley from Scott Arfield had been blocked.

But Stoke, too, were blunted by a Burnley defence which again proved itself impregnable, despite another enforced change when ever-present left-back Stephen Ward succumbed to a knee problem to be replaced by Taylor in a back four which again included Kevin Long in place of the injured Ben Mee and Phil Bardsley making his 250th Premier League appearance against his former club.

It was not a night for the feint-hearted and both sides struggled to keep possession long enough to dictate terms at the start of the second half.

But with Defour invariably the one looking to get on the ball and drive Burnley forward it was the Belgian international who tested Jack Butland for the first time with 20 minutes to go with a long-range strike the England international gathered on the bounce.

Gudmundsson then struck an angled shot wide and with Barnes on for Jeff Hendrick and Sam Vokes on for Chris Wood, the Clarets wound things up for a final push as they increasingly looked the more likely winners.

Crouch missed a half-chance for Stoke from a rare sight of goal from the Potters and then with two minutes to go Barnes secured a landmark victory with a clinical and perfectly-timed strike.

Jack Cork’s flighted ball forward was laid off by Barnes to Arfield and when Arfield returned the favour, Barnes cracked a shot past Butland from 15 yards to continue the Clarets' remarkable run and put them among the most elite of company.

Burnley: Pope, Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Ward (Taylor 40), Gudmundsson, Defour, Cork, Arfield, Hendrick (Barnes 71), Wood (Vokes 81). Substitutes: Lindegaard, Westwood, Ulvestad, Wells.

Booked: None

Stoke City: Butland, Cameron, Zouma (Wimmer 65), Shawcross, Pieters, Allen, Fletcher, Diouf, Shaqiri (Choupo-Moting 83), Sobhi, Crouch. Substitutes: Grant, Berahino, Afellay, Adam, Edwards.

Booked: None

Referee: Michael Jones

Attendance: 19,909

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