Nugent rallies Burnley for fight to the finish
Burnley 1 Stoke City 1
Thursday 11 March 2010
A point at home to mid-table opposition is hardly likely to strike fear into Burnley's relegation rivals but Brian Laws' side at least demonstrated against Stoke City last night that they have the stomach for the fight to stay in the Premier League.
David Nugent's second-half equaliser ended a four-match losing run and earned Burnley a result that moved them above Hull City in the table, level on points with 17th-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, who visit Turf Moor on Saturday.
"In a few weeks' time we could be reflecting on this result and saying it was a massive point," said Laws, the Burnley manager. "The players could have been forgiven for feeling sorry for themselves at half-time. But Nugent's goal set the tone for the second half and in the end we're a little bit disappointed we haven't won."
Burnley's first point since the beginning of last month was achieved the hard way, Laws' side finding themselves in the familiar position of chasing the game after Tuncay was gifted his fourth Premier League goal of the season in the 23rd minute.
Stoke's Turkish international was unmarked when he headed Mamady Sidibe's flick past Brian Jensen after another Rory Delap long throw into the penalty area. Burnley had even moved the advertising hoardings closer to the pitch to prevent Delap from launching his missiles but the ploy failed to work and left Burnley still looking for their first clean sheet for five months. Since beating Hull City 2-0 at Turf Moor at the end of October, Burnley had conceded 38 times in 17 matches before last night, but few were as soft as the one that gave Stoke their half-time lead.
Tony Pulis's side produced a typically hard-working performance here, although Burnley should have equalised before the interval. When Chris Eagles found Martin Paterson on the edge of the six-yard box in the 38th minute, it looked certain he would score. Yet Paterson somehow scuffed his effort and the ball fizzed wide.
However, Paterson redeemed himself by setting up Nugent to equalise in the 52nd minute. The Northern Ireland international produced a perfect cross for the on-loan Portsmouth forward, standing on the edge of the six-yard box, to direct a powerful header beyond Thomas Sorensen.
For the first time, Stoke were on the back foot. Sorensen flapped at a cross from Paterson before the visitors survived strong appeals for a penalty when Nugent tumbled under a challenge by Robert Huth. Yet a victory for the hosts would have been harsh on Stoke, who remain unbeaten away from home in the league in 2010.
"We've had a lot of games lately against the bigger clubs and it's taken a lot out of us," Pulis said. "We're still wearing nappies in the Premier League and there's no way in a million years we'd take any team lightly."
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox (Jordan, 76); Paterson, Alexander, Cork (McDonald, h-t), Eagles; Nugent, Thompson (Elliott, 70). Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Duff, Blake, Bikey.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson, Huth, Faye, Collins; Lawrence ( Pugh, 62), Whitehead, Delap, Etherington; Tuncay ( Moult, 85), Sidibe. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Kitson, Faye, Davies, Lund.
Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).
Booked: Burnley Carlisle, McDonald.
Man of the match: Delap.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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