It was heartbreak at the death as Burnley conceded in injury time to lose to Spurs at Wembley yesterday.
The 1-0 score line came thanks to a Christian Eriksen strike that Spurs will feel gave them a deserved victory. However, it was cruel on the Clarets who had mounted a spirited defensive display.
The Clarets allowed Spurs the lion’s share of possession throughout, but restricted them to relatively little in the way of clear cut chances – and even then, Joe Hart pulled off two outstanding saves.
This is now the third successive game where the Clarets have shown the gritty resilience and work rate that served them so well last season. On this evidence they are at last making a fight of it and with performances like this, points on the board should eventually follow.
Spurs victory keeps them in touch with the top two…just, whilst Burnley remain 17th with 12 points – and a crucial two points cushion above the relegation zone. That cushion may be eroded or disappear altogether next week as the Clarets travel to Arsenal – who are unlikely to provide the Clarets with any seasonal gifts
Despite the cruel end to the game, most Clarets will take heart from another good defensive performance and the fact that key players are coming into some form now – which is being reflected in the team’s performances as a whole.
If Burnley continue to dig deep and show this level of resilience, they will surely pick up the requisite points, as they won’t be facing teams of Spurs’ quality every week. The Clarets defended heroically yesterday and gave the kind of resolute performance that became the side’s hallmark last season.
They defended from the front and restricted Spurs’ attacking players to relatively little. On the downside, Burnley are operating with little creativity at the moment and their goal threat is very limited. Yesterday they barely threatened Spurs, aside from Ashley Barnes’ efforts – a blocked scissor-kick and a header that almost punished a lapse in concentration from Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris.
There are some signs of encouragement, but Burnley have a lot of ground to make up as the gruelling Christmas and New Year schedule approaches. Then we have a transfer window upon us and without wishing to overplay the Dickensian metaphor – will the Burnley boardroom have to be visited by the Ghosts of Transfer Windows Past before they loosen the frugal purse strings? Surely that’s what’s now required to get the creativity and goals so obviously lacking from the squad as it stands. A failure to act will scotch the Great Expectations of many Clarets and may yet lead to Hard Times.