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Having waited three weeks for a home game, it all ended in stalemate last night with Sunderland taking a point from us at the Turf from a 0-0 draw.

I referred to it in my preview that we hadn’t failed to score in a home game since this weekend a year ago when Manchester City beat us 2-0. Last night, our seventeenth clean sheet of the season ensured a point on a night when we just didn’t fire in attack as we failed to register a league goal in a game for only the third time this season.

It did seem an age since we’d played even though it was only sixteen days since the win at Hull which came four days after we’d beaten Wigan at home. I was really looking forward to last night’s game and was very confident we could get another comfortable win to move us potentially within one win of promotion.

Last time out in the league we’d won 3-1 at Hull. Vincent Kompany named an unchanged team for that game having beaten Wigan in the previous game. For last night’s game there were three changes with returns for all of Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Josh Brownhill and Manuel Benson who replaced Hjalmar Ekdal, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Vitinho. For Harwood-Bellis it was first team football for the first time since the first week in January; Brownhill was back having been forced off at Blackpool and Benson had returned via a substitute cameo at Hull having himself been out since January.

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In front of our third highest, we were taking on a Sunderland team looking to complete a double over them since the 1972/73 when we won 1-0 at Roker before clinching promotion with a 2-0 home win against them at home.

It wasn’t to be but the opening part of the game suggested otherwise as we started very much on the front foot. As you would expect from a Tony Mowbray side, they were very well organised but they might have found things a little more difficult had we not been lumbered with the inept referee Jarred Gillett. I cannot understand why he didn’t yellow card Dan Neil and I felt he could easily have shown yellow also to Trai Hume. To add to that, not to card Luke O’Nien when he went through Nathan Tella simply beggared belief.

For all we had the lion’s share of possession, there were times when we placed ourselves in trouble as Sunderland worked hard to stop us playing out from the back. There were one or two hairy moments to survive while at the other end, we didn’t create too many opportunities.

Harwood-Bellis saw one shot saved by keeper Anthony Patterson and probably our best chance of the half fell to Ashley Barnes who tried to place a shot into the top corner only for it to miss the target. Brownhill saw a goal bound effort blocked by Lynden Gooch but Sunderland had a couple of efforts, one saved well by Arijanet Muric.

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Quite often, after a first half like we’d experienced, we would come out much brighter in the second half. It didn’t quite happen. Again Barnes had a chance, so did Anass Zaroury. Benson cut inside in typical style but with men on the box, he blazed a shot high and wide.

We made substitutions but just couldn’t find the cutting edge that we so often do and as we moved into the closing stages it looked as though we might have to settle for a draw and a goalless one at that, something we hadn’t seen at the Turf since Watford came in January last year.

But then, Sunderland twice frightened us. Firstly, Amad Diallo, on as a substitute, saw his shot deflect off Josh Cullen onto the bar before dropping into the hands of a relieved Muric. Having seen this again, you have to wonder just how on earth assistant referee Natalie Aspinall failed to see a clear offside. Thankfully, she did when it mattered.

We gifted Sunderland a late corner on the left when Jordan Beyer, attempting to play the ball across to Harwood-Bellis, inadvertently put it out of play. When the ball came over, it ended in our net. Whether Abdoullah Ba got a touch or not, he was in an offside position right in front of Muric. Thankfully, this time the flag did go up.

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Both sides were looking to win it and probably, you’d suggest, Sunderland needed a win more than us in their attempts to try and get into the top six. Six minutes of stoppage time couldn’t bring a winner though for either side and we both had to settle for a point.

It has, perhaps, delayed the day we can confirm promotion and they day we can confirm that we’ll be going up as champions (that’s when the Football League don’t bother bringing the trophy), but other than that it’s just moved us one point further on.

I did think that Sheffield United might have problems winning at Norwich today but knew that Middlesbrough wouldn’t have much problem at Huddersfield. Both led 1-0 at half time and then Neil Warnock got one back on his former club as he saw his team score four times.

What that means is a win next Friday at the Riverside could still confirm our promotion although we would need Luton to drop points at Millwall earlier in the day. As thing stand, we need another fourteen points to be certain of winning the title but only five more to ensure promotion which reduces with every point Middlesbrough drop.

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Yes, it was very much a frustrating Friday night for us last night but the prize is getting closer; it’s just a matter of when it happens. Hopefully, next Friday will be every bit a Good Friday.

The teams were;

Burnley: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Jordan Beyer, Ian Maatsen, Josh Cullen, Josh Brownhill, Manuel Benson (Vitinho 83), Nathan Tella, Anass Zaroury (Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson 67), Ashley Barnes (Michael Obafemi 79). Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Hjalmar Ekdal, Jack Cork, Scott Twine.
Yellow Cards: Josh Cullen, Ian Maatsen.

Sunderland: Anthony Patterson, Trai Hume, Luke O’Nien, Danny Batth, Lynden Gooch, Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah (Edouard Michut 64), Patrick Roberts (Abdoullah Ba 76), Alex Pritchard (Isaac Lihadji 76), Jack Clarke (Dennis Cirkin 88), Joe Gelhardt (Amad Diallo 64). Subs not used: Alex Bass, Joe Anderson.

Referee: Jarred Gillett (Australia).

Attendance: 21,462.

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