Burnley 1-0 Stoke City: Boyd grabs the winner in a game of few chances

Burnley fans and staff alike can breathe a sigh of relief as George Boyd's winner ensured they moved eight points clear of the relegation places. In a lacklustre contest, Stoke City were arguably the better team until the winger netted the only goal of the game on 58 minutes.

Six changes as both teams look to spark a change in fortune

Both managers made a handful of changes after respective 2-0 defeats at the weekend. Sean Dyche added the returning Steven Defour to his first team alongside centre-forward Sam Vokes. Scott Arfield and Ashley Barnes missed out whilst record signing Robbie Brady was again named on the bench.

Mark Hughes not only changed personal but also reverted his formation to a 3-4-3. Marc Muniesa slotted into a back three, whilst Charlie Adam and Geoff Cameron forged a revamped midfield that included Mame Biram Diouf on the right-hand side.

One chance apiece in a laboured opening 45 minutes

A tentative opening saw Burnley utilising their normal direct approach, whilst the visitors looked to employ left wing-back Erik Pieters at every opportunity, with 95% of their attacks heading down that side in the opening 15 minutes. The first chance of note came just after that period but Burnley's Ben Mee could only head Defour's free-kick straight at Lee Grant.

Stoke really should have taken the lead on the half-hour mark, though Marko Arnautovic showed a lack of confidence as his form continues to deteriorate. Stoke broke quickly through Saido Berahino who picked out the unmarked attacking midfielder. Yet a terrible first touch allowed the ball to spill away from Arnautovic and roll into the grateful Tom Heaton's arms. 

The visitors were beginning to look more threatening towards the end of a first half lacking quality, as Charlie Adam forced Heaton into a smart stop wth a trademark drive from just outside the area. Yet one shot on target each hardly got the fans on the edge of their seats in a disappointing opening 45 minutes.

Nothing to shout about for the fans after a poor first 45 minutes (photo: Getty Images)
Nothing to shout about for the fans after a poor first 45 minutes (photo: Getty Images)

 

Boyd's goal proves critical as Stoke fail to respond

Charlie Adam was the one player looking likely to make something happen as he lashed an effort just wide straight after the restart. It took a further twelve minutes but eventually somebody did make a mark on the game, namely George Boyd. Jeff Hendrick skipped past a couple of Stoke defenders before playing the ball to the winger who duly swept Burnley into the lead.

Ireland international Hendrick has received criticism from some Burnley fans this season but he was really having an influence on this game. The central midfielder smashed a shot off Ryan Shawcross that deflected into the hands of Grant.

Stoke had to respond and substitute Peter Crouch was close to finding an equaliser. With 75 minutes on the clock, Berahino's replacement acrobatically produced an overhead kick that hit the side netting.

As the time filtered away, two Burnley substitutes combined as Ashley Barnes drifted his shot over from Robbie Brady's cut back. Despite six minutes of injury time, Stoke were unable to force an equaliser and the hosts walked away with a crucial three points after a less than elegant contest.

VAVEL Logo