Stoke City climbed back into the Championship play-off positions last night as Burnley's winless run extended to a ninth game.
Back in September, Burnley won the reverse fixture by the same scoreline to move up to third. Four months later the team from the Potteries have their sights on the Premiership while Steve Cotterill's Clarets have endured a goal drought stretching back to mid-December.
Mamady Sidibe's first-half strike proved decisive and it was easy to see why Stoke are thriving - they are durable, athletic, and possess a genuine goalscoring threat. Just as importantly, their second visit to Lancashire in four days made up for any psychological damage suffered by squandering a 2-0 lead at Preston on Saturday to lose 3-2.
"I said to the players it's all about how you react to a defeat that counts," said Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager. He also confirmed the club had agreed a deal to bring Salif Diao back on loan until the end of the season, while discussions with Aston Villa over Lee Hendrie's future are ongoing.
Burnley did much of the early attacking on a freezing, snowy evening. But despite a string of corners, it was Stoke who took the lead. Ricardo Fuller was the creator, cutting in from the left and finding his way behind the defence. Sidibe, a yard out, could not miss.
Burnley might have equalised almost immediately, but Andy Wilkinson cleared Gifton Noel-Williams' shot off the line.
But, through Fuller, Stoke were a constant danger. Burnley only once really threatened an equaliser when Steve Simonsen smothered Ade Akinbiyi's injury-time effort. "We had enough possession but didn't do enough with it to win - and there's no point me saying any different," said Cotterill.
Burnley (4-4-2): Pollitt; Sinclair, Thomas, Duff, Harley; Elliott (G O'Connor, 70), Djemba-Djemba (Gudjonsson, 65), J O'Connor, McCann (Lafferty, 45); Akinbiyi, Noel-Williams. Substitutes not used: Coyne (gk), Foster.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Wilkinson, Duberry, Higginbotham, Griffin; Hoefkens, Russell, Matteo, Lawrence; Sidibe, Fuller. Substitutes not used: Eustace, Sweeney, Pericard, Dickinson, Rooney.
Referee: M Pike (Cumbria).Reuse content