Feb 282015

Swansea’s Jack Cork’s shot is deflected by Burnley’s Kieran Trippier in the Premier League match at Turf Moor. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

As one survival bid was completed before the start of March, another was rendered more improbable. Burnley’s grasp on their Premier League status is weakening. A side that competes admirably conceded farcically as Swansea secured victory at Turf Moor with a goal that involved Burnley’s past, in Jack Cork, and their present, as Kieran Trippier inadvertently applied the decisive touch. Burnley’s past six games have yielded two points and a chance to escape the relegation zone was spurned. With Liverpool and Manchester City their next two opponents, they face the prospect of an extended stay in the bottom three.

In contrast, Swansea’s destiny is decided. A fifth successive season in the top flight was rarely in doubt. Now it is a certainty. “Forty points is the first point of call for anyone outside the bigger clubs,” said their manager, Garry Monk. “We wanted to get there as soon as we could. We have got there now.”

It was an achievement he could savour, along with his side’s resilience. “We had to do the basics,” he said, taking pride in pragmatism. As a result, history repeated itself. In August, Swansea followed a 2-1 victory against Manchester United with a 1-0 win over Burnley. So, too, in February.

Their latest clean sheet owed much to their goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski. The Pole’s second-half saves from Michael Kightly, Ashley Barnes and the substitute Sam Vokes all showed his conviction. His finest stop came after a quarter of the game, when a spinning Danny Ings occupied three defenders, Barnes was left unmarked six yards from goal and Fabianski blocked the striker’s shot with his chest. “That was a big chance,” said the rueful Burnley manager, Sean Dyche.

Barnes’s inability to take it ensured a return to obscurity after a week of notoriety. José Mourinho had branded his challenge on Nemanja Matic “criminal” but, after being vilified by the Chelsea manager, he was celebrated by the Burnley public and the recipient of the loudest pre-match ovation. “There is a respect element from fans to players here,” Dyche said. “They know they have a group giving everything.”

As ever, Burnley’s effort could not be faulted, but they lacked incision and invention. “There was a bit of flatness,” said Dyche, who wondered if the furore surrounding Barnes affected his team, but his side’s performance supported the long-held suspicions they do not possess the quality required to prosper. While Mourinho felt penalty decisions went Burnley’s way seven days earlier, they did not here when Neil Taylor tugged Vokes. “He gets dragged around his waist. I have seen them given,” said Dyche, who praised his striker for an understated reaction. “We value our honesty.”

Swansea valued their industry. “We had to scrap it out,” said Monk. Fittingly, then, the decisive goal came in scrappy style. “It felt it was going to pan out as an indifferent 0-0,” said Dyche. Instead, Bafétimbi Gomis flicked on Jonjo Shelvey’s corner for Cork and when his shot was brilliantly touched on to the bar by Tom Heaton the midfielder miscued his attempt to convert the rebound. The grounded Heaton saved again, only to see the ball bounce in off Trippier’s thigh.

It was an indication of Shelvey’s influence. His playmaking skills were apparent as he released first Wayne Routledge and then Gomis with raking passes. The Englishman lobbed wide of an unguarded net and the French striker blazed way over the bar. Despite playing a part in the goal, Gomis gave a decidedly mixed display and his replacement, Nélson Oliveira, almost scored a second goal from an acute angle.

“I don’t think there were too many chances for either side,” Monk said. But now Burnley’s chances of staying up are altogether smaller.

 Posted by at 5:39 pm

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