Burnley 0-0 Sunderland: Kompany's side held to goalless draw
Burnley were left frustrated by a dogged Sunderland performance in a goalless draw that leaves the Championship leaders still needing eight points to be sure of promotion.
That should still be a formality for the Clarets, with eight games remaining and meetings with their closest rivals Middlesbrough and Sheffield United over the Easter weekend.
But, as his side recorded an 18th consecutive unbeaten league outing, Burnley boss Vincent Kompany was left to consider a rare night where his team lacked a cutting edge in attack against the Black Cats.
Indeed, as Burnley edged a step closer to an immediate return to the Premier League under their first-year manager, they failed to score in a game at Turf Moor for the first time since a defeat to Manchester City almost exactly 12 months ago.
With promotion all but assured, there was a lack of urgency in Burnley’s play and it was not until the 26th minute that the Sunderland goal was seriously threatened for the first time.
Josh Brownhill’s left-wing corner was only half cleared by Pierre Ekwah and Burnley defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis scrambled a shot goalwards which keeper Anthony Patterson did well to stop on his line.
Later in the first period, as Burnley’s slick passing showed more incision, Brownhill’s inspired overhead pass let in veteran Ashley Barnes who curled a left-foot shot just over.
And, with the last attack of the half, Manuel Benson selflessly set up Brownhill whose shot was blocked behind by two defenders.
In response, Sunderland forced Arijanet Muric into a good, full-length diving save after 30 minutes as Patrick Roberts cut in from the right and sent a long-range shot heading towards the far corner of the Burnley goal.
The resulting corner ended at the feet of Dan Neil just outside the home area and his volley was comfortably held by Muric to continue a run that had seen Burnley’s defence concede just three goals in their previous nine league games before Sunderland’s visit.
That form helped Kompany’s side amass a run of 14 wins and three draws from the 17 Championship games since their last defeat, at Sheffield United on November 5.
In contrast, Tony Mowbray’s visitors have seen their play-off hopes damaged with an indifferent run of form but continued their resistance after the restart at Turf Moor when Roberts created a shooting opening which Muric again saved comfortably.
But, as the half progressed, Burnley began to show more urgency and Anass Zaroury set up Barnes who could not get enough power behind a hurried, under-pressure shot.
In turn, that opened up opportunities for the visitors and substitute Amad Diallo struck the crossbar, via a deflection off Josh Cullen, with virtually his first touch after 68 minutes.
Jack Clarke also had the ball in the Burnley goal just before the final whistle but the effort was ruled out for offside against Abdoullah Ba.