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DAVID MADDOCK: Burnley show why they’re an imposing force at Turf Moor – but not safe yet

Date Posted,April 4, 2017

They may not be safe yet, according to their manager, but if Burnley survive in the Premier League then he knows why.

“I’ve lost chunks off my scalp from scratching my head on why we haven’t won away, we’ve been good enough to do it,” Sean Dyche said with a grimace.

“But on the other hand, we’ve produced some great stuff at home, and the fans who have season tickets are certainly getting their money’s worth.”

He has a point. His side halted their nosedive towards relegation as they yet again proved there’s no place like home, with a crucial victory over Stoke.

Incredibly, they have still not won on their travels this season, but at Turf Moor, they are a very different prospect. Only the top three have won more at home.

It is not hard to see why. Their impressive fans create a hostile environment in one of the coldest grounds in English football, and even the likes of Stoke seemed eventually to wilt in the face of such passion.

(Photo: Getty Images Europe)

George Boyd proved the hero, with the quiet winger grabbing only his second goal of the season to give his team some breathing space at the bottom but Dyche is still cautious.

Asked if they were safe, he said: “I don’t think we’re there yet, we have to keep challenging ourselves. But we are in good shape with seven to go, and with the way we are performing.”

They did it the hard way too, scrapping it out against a Stoke side who had the better of the first half and certainly seemed to have the more potent attacking threat.

Andre Gray pressures Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross (Photo: Getty Images)

Visiting boss Mark Hughes can feel aggrieved on two fronts. Burnley defender Stephen Ward was lucky to stay on the pitch when, already on a booking, he lunged into a high tackle on Joe Allen, and then bodychecked Mame Diouf.

But Hughes will be even more annoyed his side squandered such good chances.

Twice Marko Arnautovic was sent through on goal after great work by Saido Berahinho to tee him up, and twice he fluffed his lines, when the smart money was on him to score.

Stephen Ward was lucky to stay on the pitch after a challenge on Joe Allen (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

It was the just the stroke of fortune Burnley needed after their desperate run of late and livewire Jeff Hendrick provided the spark, as he darted down the left on 58 minutes to slalom through the visiting defence and set up a perfect cross for Boyd to smash home left footed from 12 yards.

For Hughes, it was rough justice, on a night when his team’s fortunes were summed up by a comedy corner from Charlie Adam, when he slipped and succeeded only in handling the ball.

Burnley’s Tom Heaton celebrates Boyd’s goal in style (Photo: REUTERS)

“We had chances in the first half, and I feel we would have won quite comfortably, if we got the first goal,” he said.

“I have no qualms about the performance, but we needed a little bit of quality, a little bit of guile to pick out the right pass at the top end of the pitch…it didn’t quite happen for us tonight.”

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