THE days when Chris Kirkland was being widely touted as the answer to the national team’s goalkeeping problems appear to be firmly consigned to the past.
But the Sheffield Wednesday custodian, along with the woodwork and some last-ditch defending, combined and conspired to deny Burnley a victory which would have seen the Clarets cement their place in the automatic promotion slots.
Sean Dyche was characteristically upbeat about the performance after the game.
The Burnley boss said: “What can you say? We have done everything and I thought we dominated on virtually every level.
“It was just the result, and sometimes that happens, but sometimes the opposition have one of those days.”
The highlights reel from the game more than bears him out, with Danny Ings, Sam Vokes and David Jones all coming tantalisingly close to finding the back of the visitors’ net.
The strike that did breach the Owls’ resistance was an absolute gem, with Dean Marney and Sam Vokes linking up to devastating effect, just as they had done at Huish Park seven days previouly. The midfielder displayed alertness to win the ball, bravery in playing the pass, given that he was about to be clattered, and a wonderful deftness of touch.
For his part, Vokes watched the ball come down over his shoulder and stroked it home as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
It was a finish which spoke of a forward brimming with confidence.
If only those other attempts had been converted with such nonchalance. Still, the important thing to remember is that at least the team are creating chances. And plenty of them.
“I am so impressed with that performance today,” continued the Burnley manager. “If you are that dominant, someone will catch it and they will all go in.”
Here’s hoping that Dyche is right, and that Oscar Garcia’s Brighton and Hove Albion team face a long and miserable journey back to the south coast next up, with nothing to show for their efforts and a badly dented goal difference – ideally with a contribution from former Albion striker, Ashley Barnes.
Not that it is likely to be so straightforward.
This is a big 10 days for the club – although you could say it’s merely the latest in a long sequence of defining periods.
After the visit of Brighton, Burnley head to the capital for the televised showdown with QPR.
Come out of those two fixtures still in touch with the top two, and the Clarets will have every reason to be optimistic about the rest of the season.