Burnley 1-0 Stoke City: Smash and grab from the Clarets sends them into the top four

Burnley found a way of seeing off Stoke despite arguably their worst performance of the season so far.

Burnley 1-0 Stoke City: Smash and grab from the Clarets sends them into the top four
Ashley Barnes lets rip with the winner (photo: Getty Images / Clive Brunskill)
Stoke City
Burnley: Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Long, Ward (Taylor 40); Berg Gudmundsson, Cork, Defour, Arfield, Hendrick (Barnes 71); Wood (Vokes 80)
Stoke City: Butland; Zouma (Wimmer 64), Shawcross, Cameron; Diouf, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters; Shaqiri (Choupo-Moting 84), Sobhi; Crouch
SCORE: 1-0 Barnes 88

Substitute Ashley Barnes ensured Burnley maintained their impressive start to the season and moved into the Champions League places as they turned a dismal display into three points against Stoke City.

Stoke on top after lacklustre opening 45 minutes from the hosts

With manager Mark Hughes under pressure going into the contest, Stoke got off to a flying start in the wintry conditions. Xherdan Shaqiri warmed the gloves of Nick Pope from range before Peter Crouch nodded a header onto the post and into the Burnley goalkeeper's arms. Just minutes later, Kurt Zouma side-footed an effort straight at Pope in a busy five minutes for the home shot-stopper.

Burnley appeared to settle into the match for a brief spell but the visitors were still well on top. Just before the half-hour mark, Crouch laid the ball off to Shaqiri who played an excellent reverse pass into the path of Mame Biram Diouf. The striker was unfortunate to watch his strike deflect into the side-netting. Ramadan Sobhi then saw a couple of strikes fly wide from range.

The hosts appeared shell-shocked. Rarely this season have they been overpowered in the air by the opposition and dominated by a side lower in the league than them at Turf Moor. Nothing was going right for the Clarets and Stephen Ward hobbled off just before the break. The only consolation for Burnley was that the game was still goalless and they had time to reassess in the dressing room at half-time.

Barnes nets winner with late strike after dire contest

Yet any changes to their stature in the contest were not forthcoming as Stoke continued to dominate the play. For the first time this season, jeers began to echo around Turf Moor and Shaqiri had another sighter at goal from range.

However, the game was lacking any real quality and was crying out for a moment of class to break the deadlock. As the clock ticked over to 70, Steven Defour finally mounted Burnley's first shot on target but it was comfortably saved by Jack Butland.

The spark finally came with five minutes left to play but it was not one to ignite the contest. Shaqiri was inexplicably substituted by Mark Hughes, despite being arguably the best player on the pitch, and responded by shaking his head and throwing his gloves into the dugout. 

Yet Burnley have built an incredible first half of the season on their ability to pull out narrow wins and they were able to do that again with just two minutes to play. After Peter Crouch fired over on the stretch, direct football paid dividends for the hosts. Substitute Ashley Barnes nodded down a long ball before being played into space by Scott Arfield and smashing home.

The Clarets had done it again. Another 1-0 victory and a spot in the top four until Wednesday night at least.