Burnley secured a valuable victory in their battle against relegation as they edged out Stoke in a 1-0 win at Turf Moor.
Sean Dyche’s side were teetering precariously above the drop zone prior to kick off but the win has taken them up to 12th and only a point behind their Stoke opponents.
Stoke were arguably the better side in the first half and had the better chances, Charlie Adam forced a couple of saves from Tom Heaton, whilst Marko Arnautovic fluffed his lines when through on goal twice.
Burnley came out for the second half reinvigorated and worked hard before getting their reward.
Hendrick picked the ball up on the left of the box before beating two men and squaring for Boyd to coolly slot home past Heaton.
Here’s five things we learned…
1. Burnley step closer to survival
They were in danger of being dragged into the relegation scrap, but a win here has given Burnley a timely boost in their quest for Premier League survival.
The Clarets went into the match with a decent home record, having picked up all bar three of their seasons points tally at Turf Moor.
With visitors Stoke suffering defeat 6 times in their last 8 away outings, Burnley would have fancied their chances prior to kick off, and they battled well before Boyd’s goal gave them the all-important win.
You’d expect them to steer clear of the drop zone now, but they have a tough run ahead for the rest of April, with games against fellow strugglers Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace to come as well as a visit from Manchester United and a trip to Everton.
2. Boyd shows his importance again
George Boyd is not one of the more heralded glamour players in the Premier League, but he continues to show his worth to Burnley.
The former non-league midfielder – who navigated a Vardy-esque route to the Premier League from the conference – has been ever present for the Clarets this season, and he grabbed a crucial goal.
Boyd netted the winner for the home side, sweeping the ball home from inside the box after Jeff Hendrick’s mazy run.
He has made a reputation for himself as a grafter and he worked tirelessly again before and after his goal, which could prove to be his biggest contribution to Burnley yet.
3. Stoke’s European dream fading for another season
The Potters have become sturdy Premier League regulars since their promotion in 2008 as they sit firmly in mid-table in what is their ninth consecutive top flight campaign.
But any dreams of progressing by bringing European football to the Britannia next term took a dent here as they failed to reverse their poor away form with a win.
Mark Hughes side edged out the hosts in the first half and arguably had the best chances but couldn’t finish them off, before falling behind after some lax defending.
A defeat here made this their seventh loss in their last nine away matches, and they face the tough task of hosting Liverpool at the Britannia next.
4. Stoke still need a goalscorer
Despite having 12 million man Saido Berahino leading the line and Peter Crouch on the bench, the visitors lacked firepower – something that must be addressed if they are to avoid continually falling short of the Europa League spots.
Marko Arnautovic was a bright spark in an otherwise average display, but he lacked composure in front of goal – first taking a heavy touch when through on goal, before later unsuccessfully opting to square the ball when he could have shot.
With Wilfried Bony at loggerheads with manager Mark Hughes and seemingly on his way out of the Britannia, Stoke need to use the summer to finally invest in a striker who can get them the goals they need.
Out-of-favour Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge could be a potential option, whilst Jermain Defoe could fancy a move to rekindle his former partnership with Peter Crouch if Sunderland go down.
5. Mid-table mediocrity
It is marketed as the most exciting league in the world, but even the Premier League sometimes has an off day.
With visitors Stoke perhaps wary of their poor travelling form, and Burnley having not won since January, the match hardly had the makings of a classic – and that was largely the case.
Despite being 6 places apart in the Premier League, only four points separated the sides prior to kick-off, and they were fairly evenly matched throughout.
A scrappy first half saw only three shots on target. Poor finishing from Stoke contributed to a pretty uneventful affair as they failed to show any conviction with their chances.
Hendricks dazzling run and Boyd’s composed finish saved it finishing goalless, but it certainly wasn’t one for the Match of the Day highlights reel.
David Maddock’s player ratings:
Had little to do despite Stoke’s inventive attack, solid as team’s captain
A couple of searing runs down the right, but struggled with Arnautovic
Improving all time as central pivot, looked assured advancing on ball
Another dependable performance against fluid and tough opponents
Booked. Lucky not to go off after two fouls when already on a yellow
Unlucky when seemed to be tripped as raced through on goal
MOTM. Lots of energy in middle running from deep a threat as goal proved
Booked. As combative as ever, got stuck into Stoke midfield as expected
Quiet game from the little Belgian, found himself isolated on the left
Crowd got at him a little, but he stuck at task well and fought hard
Some great skills from the big man, produced energetic display as ever
Brady 6 (Defour 57)
Barnes (Gray 78)
Tarkowski (Vokes 85)
Didn’t have too much action with solid defence, question over kicking
Found himself on right of a 3, but showed usual strength and aggression
Martins Indi 6
Couple of uncomfortable moments, seems to struggle on the ball
Suited to the system, used his skills to bring ball out, and read game
Has a lot of power down right in wing back role, needs more finesse
Amazing comedy moment when tripped taking corner, and handled!
Lots of energy, and important link between defence and attack
Maybe lucky when seemed to trip Gray, but solid show down left flank
Played in unusual role wide of a front 3, but worked hard back in middle
Has class and was team’s biggest threat, but wasted two glorious chances
Great outlet for team, and also showed some good touches to link play
Crouch (Berahino 71)
Affelay (Allen 85)
Ref: Kevin Friend Attn: 26,765