IT was a classic end-of-season scenario. A team in urgent need of points taking on a team who have achieved all they could have hoped for and more this season.
For the first half Stoke’s desperation and desire proved decisive, but the Clarets wouldn’t be the team you’d choose to face in these circumstances.
After a disappointing first half they sprung to life after the break, displaying the resilience and character that defines them and Ashley Barnes cancelled out Badou Ndiaye’s goal to earn Burnley a point and nudge the hosts closer to the drop.
Nobody can dispute that Sean Dyche’s side didn’t want the three points, but deep down they’d have taken one look at the troubles of their hosts this season and let out a sigh of relief.
If you’d been told at the start of this season that this fixture would be essential for one side, most people would have guessed it would be Burnley.
Instead the gruesome battle to avoid the drop is something the Clarets have watched from a much greater height than any of us expected.
This point has taken them closer to a top-seven finish and a place in Europe and it was that man Barnes that again found a way to goal. After a scoring streak that has included some stunners, his last couple have been more luck than judgement, but they all count
The Bet365 Stadium expected a flying start from their side and if Burnley’s gameplan had been to subdue the hosts it was undone by a soft opener.
Joe Allen was given time on the right to send in a weak cross which still found Badou Ndiaye on the edge of the area and the Senegalese was able to swap passes with countryman Mame Biram Diouf in the box before his 18-yard effort took a slight deflection on its way into the bottom corner.
Barnes had an early sight of goal, curling wide as he ran at Shawcross, but the Clarets were being troubled at the back, with Diouf given the freedom of the penalty box to glance a header straight at Nick Pope.
Once again it was Johann Berg Gudmundsson who looked Burnley’s most dangerous weapon going forward, a darting, drifting menace to the Potters all afternoon.
He forced Butland into the first of a number of fine saves 10 minutes before the break. After Jack Cork was tripped on the edge of the box the Iceland winger’s free-kick saw the England goalkeeper spring across to his left to turn the ball behind.
The Clarets were handed another let-off as they continued to look ragged at the back. Moritz Bauer broke into space behind Stephen Ward and sent in a perfect cross for Diouf, but his touch let him down as he looked to set himself for a shot 10 yards from goal.
Burnley’s improvement in the second half was immediate. First Cork glanced a header goalwards from Gudmundsson’s free-kick, Butland taking the precaution of tipping it over. From the resulting Gudmundsson corner Tarkowski powered a header goalwards from eight yards but saw Butland dive to his right to push it away.
Just after the hour mark the Clarets were rewarded for their improvement. Butland could consider himself unlucky, pulling off a magnificent save to keep out Tarkowski’s header from Westwood’s cross, but as he tried to hook the ball clear Barnes was on hand to force it over the line.
Stoke pressed in vain for what would have been a crucial winner. Shawcross glanced a Xherdan Shaqiri corner a couple of yards wide and two minutes from time substitute Stephen Ireland curled a 20-yard effort against the outside of the post.
The four added minutes turned into the Gudmundsson show as he searched in vain for a winner. A rasping 22-yard drive was saved by Butland, before the Icelander curled inches wide on his right foot and then in the dying seconds on his left. A winning goal would have been the least he deserved.
Source : LancashireTelegraph