Burnley defenders impress in win over Stoke to ease relegation fears

Burnley recorded a massive three points to move up to 12th in the Premier League, ending an eight-game run without a win in all competitions by beating Stoke City 1-0.

George Boyd scored the only goal of a very tight game at Turf Moor as the Clarets picked up their 10th home win of the season to increase the gap to the relegation zone to a surely unassailable eight points.


In some ways, this was arguably the biggest match of the season for Burnley, who had seen their 10-point cushion cut to just five as their poor run of form in a testy stretch of their season saw them slip to 15th heading into Tuesday's game.

But the Clarets responded well to the pressure, restricting Stoke to only a couple of chances on the break. Once they were in front, thanks to Boyd's first goal since December, they closed out a priceless victory with professionalism.

The victory takes Burnley to 35 points -- more than they have managed in either of their two previous Premier League campaigns, which both ended in relegation -- and one more win would surely secure safety now.


It was a nervy first half at Turf Moor, with Sean Dyche's men seemingly all too aware that they really could not afford to lose.

Creativity was lacking once more, and Boyd's goal was the only clear chance the team created on the night, so it fortunate that the winger did not miss when Jeff Hendrick's brilliant run and cross found him in the box.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- Dyche needed to be bold after an overly cautious approach saw his side fail to score in their last two matches. He made a pair of positive changes to his team, inserting Sam Vokes and Steven Defour. Although they had little impact, the players seemed to show more freedom.

Dyche's introduction of Robbie Brady early in the second half sparked the hosts' best period of the game -- in which they scored the decisive goal -- and the arrivals of Ashley Barnes and James Tarkowski from the bench helped to close the game out with no drama.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Tom Heaton, 7 -- Kept a clean sheet relatively easily with only routine work to do on the night.

DF Matt Lowton, 8 -- Impressive at right-back on the day he signed a new long-term deal with the club.

DF Michael Keane, 8 -- A model of consistency at the back, with one loose header that created a chance for Marko Arnautovic his only slip.

DF Ben Mee, 8 -- Barely put a foot wrong and was arguably the pick of a strong back four for Burnley.

DF Stephen Ward, 8 -- Enjoyed a tricky battle with Stoke's wing-back Mame Biram Diouf and came out on top despite collecting an early booking after getting on the wrong side of his opponent.

MF George Boyd, 8 -- Too often there is little end product from Boyd, but he came up with a big goal in a big game for his side.

MF Joey Barton, 6 -- A second successive below-par performance from the veteran midfielder was characterised by a number of sloppy passes.

MF Jeff Hendrick, 8 -- It was a quiet performance overall from the Irishman, but it was his burst of energy and creativity to create Boyd's goal that proved to be the match-winning contribution.

MF Steven Defour, 6 -- Starting for the first time since January after returning from injury, Defour was understandably rusty, especially since he was deployed in an unfamiliar role on the left side of midfield. One dreadful corner set up a Stoke break, but his night's work was mostly solid.

FW Andre Gray, 7 -- A constant threat due to his pace and probably should have been given more free kicks due to being manhandled by Stoke's overly physical defence.

FW Sam Vokes, 6 -- Gave the Clarets a decent platform but did not do an awful lot to justify his selection in place of Barnes.


MF Robbie Brady, 6 -- Was involved in the goal and will benefit from being given more time to impress on his favoured left side of midfield.

FW Ashley Barnes, NR -- Dropped for Vokes, Barnes' ability to win cheap fouls and keep Burnley up the pitch was invaluable in the closing minutes.

DF James Tarkowski, NR -- Dyche's final change, Tarkowski was barely involved but helped to protect the clean sheet.