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Monday 16 July 2018

Clarets climb up to dizzy heights of top four

Burnley 1 Stoke City 0

Ashley Barnes celebrates his late winner that sent Burnley into fourth spot in the Premier League table. Photo: REUTERS
Ashley Barnes celebrates his late winner that sent Burnley into fourth spot in the Premier League table. Photo: REUTERS

Burnley climbed into the Champions League places as Ashley Barnes' late winner earned them a 1-0 victory over troubled Stoke.

This was not one of the Clarets' better displays in filthy conditions and the visitors enjoyed the better of the chances prior to Barnes' 89th-minute strike.

It is more than 40 years since Burnley - a team which contains a large Irish contingent, including last night's first-teamers Stephen Ward, Kevin Long and Jeff Hendrick - have occupied such a lofty position and their joy was in direct contrast to the emotions of Mark Hughes and his Stoke players.

Three days after being confronted by angry fans at the railway station following the 5-1 mauling by Tottenham, Hughes was jeered by the vocal band of away supporters.

Freezing

There were loud boos and chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' when Hughes replaced Xherdan Shaqiri with Eric Choupo-Moting five minutes before Burnley's goal.

The defeat continued Stoke's worst start to a Premier League season, and they could drop closer to the relegation zone tonight.

This was certainly a night where a lack of character was not an option.

Freezing rain swept across Turf Moor as the players took to the pitch and, no doubt with Hughes' words ringing in their ears, Stoke set about trying to rectify some of Saturday's damage.

Peter Crouch - one of three changes to the side - might have scored inside three minutes when he took advantage of a rare mistake from James Tarkowski to get on the end of Ramadan Sobhi's cross.

Shooting from close range but a very tight angle, Crouch's effort hit the bottom of a post.

Kurt Zouma was the next to threaten, meeting a Shaqiri corner smartly on the volley but striking the ball straight at Nick Pope.

The conditions were not making life easy, and Jack Butland was fortunate to get away with an uncharacteristic spill before Burnley received a let-off when Shaqiri slipped when bearing down on goal.

Burnley were growing into the game without threatening to add to their home tally of six goals in nine games.

Already without defensive duo Ben Mee and Matt Lowton, they were forced into a change after 41 minutes when Stephen Ward picked up a problem and former Leeds left-back Charlie Taylor was sent on for a Premier League debut. Stoke continued to offer the greater threat after the break before they, too, were forced into a defensive reshuffle.

Zouma appeared to damage his hamstring - not good news for the Potters with Bruno Martins Indi already missing for the festive period - and was replaced by Kevin Wimmer.

Joe Allen needed treatment at the same time after taking a blow to the nose, but was able to continue after changing his shirt.

With 69 minutes on the clock, Burnley at last managed a shot on target, but Steven Defour's long-range effort was well held by Butland.

The game appeared to be petering out, but, with just a minute of normal time remaining, a long ball was headed down by Barnes to Scott Arfield.

Arfield played it back to Barnes just inside the area and he sent a fine finish flying past Butland and into the bottom corner.

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