Post by Football News on Apr 22, 2018 15:11:50 GMT
Stoke 1-1 Burnley
Paul Lambert had made no bones about it: Stoke had to take three points from this match to retain any hope of paying their arrears before the arrival of the relegation bailiff. They failed to do so despite taking an early lead through Badou Ndiaye. Mame Birame Diouf spurned a wonderful chance to increased that lead before Ashley Barnes erased it in the second half. The draw keeps Burnley on course for Europe and pushes Stoke closer to the Championship.
Stoke will need to win all three of their remaining matches to survive and that seems unlikely given that they have not won any since beating Huddersfield Town in Lambert’s first match in charge in January. They did not lack belief here, just quality.
The Potters went straight for the Clarets’ jugular. Lambert deployed two strikers, giving Peter Crouch a rare start alongside Mame Birame Diouf. With Sean Dyche’s men aligned in their usual formation, the clash had an old school character, both sides set up in 4-4-2s and unashamed to play a direct style. With both sets of supporters singing “England’s No1” in tribute to their respective goalkeepers, there were plenty of similarities between the sides and it as a wonder that the clubs went into the game separated by 12 places and 24 points. That fact speak of how well Dyche has done this season, and how far standards have slipped at Stoke.
But Stoke got stuck into their rescue mission here. Roared on by a home crowd that still believed, or at least hoped, that a feat of escapology was not beyond a team that had shown sign of improvement under Lambert without mustering victories. The early skirmishing was scrappy but Ndiaye’s goal came at the end of a fine move. Joe Allen released Xherdan Shaqiri down the left and the Swiss crossed for Ndiaye, who headed the ball on to Diouf, who laid it back to his compatriot. In one movement Ndiaye switched the ball from his left foot to his right, sidestepping Jack Cork, and then swept a shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards, with the aid of a slight deflection.
It was the Senegalese midfielder’s first goal since he was signed for £14m from Galatasary in January and the roar that it inspired around the ground attested to the hope it spawned.
Burnley tried to quash that immediately. Ashley Barnes attempted to curl the ball into the net from the corner of the box but his shot went straight wide.
Finesse was in short supply but no one could accuse the sides of skimping on effort in a hurly-burly contest. Stoke fans held their collective breath in the 35th minute when Cork tripped himself at the edge of the home box and was given a free-kick. Johann Gudmundsson curled it over the wall but Jack Butland made a diving save. Moments before the break the crowd leapt to their feet in anticipation of a goal that would have made Stoke’s lead more comfortable. Moritz Bauer, a right-back excelling on the left wing, produced a perfect cross for Diouf, who was free seven yards from goal. But the striker got caught in two minds – to shoot first time or take a touch - and ended up letting the ball squirt under his foot. Diouf howled at the sky in frustration while home fans turned the air blue. The miss proved to be as costly as Stoke feared.
Butland prevented Burnley from inflicting more torment early in the second half, the goalkeeper batting away a header from James Tarkowski after a corner. That was merely agony postponed. In the 62nd minute Tarkowski, unmarked at the back post, got his head to a cross by Ashley Westwood and although the goalkeeper made an even better save than the previous one, this time Barnes nudged the rebound into the net from close range.
Stoke blustered forward in search of the win. Lambert introduced Tyrese Campbell, the 18-year-old who has been scoring prolifically for Stoke’s under-23 team. Perhaps the teenager could show the predatory skills that none of his senior colleagues have been able to muster regularly this season? He was given a glimpse of goal in the 79th minute and got his low drive on target. But it was not enough to beat Nick Pope or deliver salvation for Stoke. Nor was Stephen Ireland’s curling shot from 20 yards two minutes from time, which skimmed the post, leaving Stoke clutching at straws for survival.