Burnley’s impressive 23 game unbeaten run at Turf Moor came to an end as Championship leaders Leicester City tightened their grip on the title.
Already without the division’s Player of the Year Danny Ings, Kieran Trippier and Dean Marney, boss Sean Dyche’s squad limitations were severely tested when 21-goal striker Sam Vokes pulled up early on.
The Welshman pulled up when closing down Foxes full-back Richie De Laet in the seventh minute, with his left knee seemingly locking as his studs stuck awkwardly in the turf.
That immediately curtailed Dyche’s gameplan as the Clarets were forced to switch from 4-4-2 to 4-1-4-1, with David Edgar replacing the prolific Welshman. And from that point the visitors controlled the bulk of the first half.
However, despite bossing possession, Nigel Pearson’s side rarely threatened in front of goal, with a couple of speculative David Nugent attempts all they had to show at the midway point of the opening half.
After Riyad Mahrez flashed an effort across the face of goal, the former Le Havre winger went within inches of meeting De Laet’s centre at the back post, though
Jamie Vardy’s flick on had too much on it.
The Clarets stood firm, meticulously organised as per, but they gifted their opponents an opportunity when Jason Shackell was robbed by Anthony Knockaert only for a combination of the skipper, Michael Duff, Edgar and Scott Arfield to crowd Vardy out inside the area.
The 27-year-old former Fleetwood Town marksman then signalled to his bench that he’d picked up a knock, and the striker was consequently replaced by Chris Wood.
Moments later, the substitute had an assist. The £2 million hitman held the ball up well for David Nugent and the former Claret loanee, who scored six Premier League goals during his time at Turf Moor, side-stepped Duff and Edgar with ease before threading his shot in to the corner. That was his ninth goal against the Clarets.
The hosts struggled to respond, with the gulf between the midfield and lone striker Barnes proving too significant as defensive pairing Wes Morgan and Marein Wasilewski mopping up percentage balls forward with relative ease.
Michael Kightly, stepping in for the suspended Marney as Arfield was switched inside, blazed over after stealing a yard from Danny Drinkwater deep inside the box from a Ben Mee throw, while De Laet cleared at the back post under pressure from Junior Stanislas as Chris Baird provided the cross.
Match official Chris Foy had a disastrous afternoon to say the least, and that inadequacy was showcased when muting two penalty appeals in quick succession for the home side.
First Jeff Schlupp handled from David Jones’s header, before Matty James handled again when challenging aerially. But, not surprisingly, Foy opted to award a set-piece to the visitors.
The Clarets could’ve levelled in the build up to half-time when Kasper Schmeichel’s poor clearance found Arfield and the midfielder slipped a clever pass in to Kightly who forced the Foxes stopper to save with his feet at the near post.
The second half followed a similar sequence as the away side were once again unexposed. Knockaert rattled the crossbar with an exquisitely engineered left-footed half-volley that flew across Tom Heaton as space opened up on the edge of the penalty area.
Morgan’s slip from Heaton’s free-kick then allowed Arfield to run free in to the area, but he was unable to beat Schmeichel from an acute angle as the goalkeeper beat the effort to safety. And Barnes fired over first time after the ball dropped for the striker inside the box from Jones’s measured, diagonal pass from his own half.
Wood has found his opportunities limited at the King Power Stadium this term, understandably due to the potent form of Nugent and Vardy. But he made an instant impression when coming off the bench to equalise at home to Yeovil Town midweek, and he proved a handful at times again. The seven-goal striker, signed from West Brom, latched on to Shackell’s clearance, flicked the ball past Duff and rifled an effort just over the bar.
After Knockaert floated an effort over the far upright, Dyche introduced Ross Wallace at the expense of Stanislas with the winger having an ice pack strapped to his knee in the aftermath.
Schlupp’s burst down the right was almost rewarded when an unconvincing clearance fell back at his feet just outside the six-yard box, but his low drive was blocked at the near post by Shackell.
Schmeichel produced a save for the Sky cameras as the fixture petered out, plunging to his left to punch Kightly’s drive clear after the Stoke City loan man cut inside past De Laet,
But, aside from Barnes’s turn and volley that flashed over the bar, that would be the last time the Clarets threatened.
Instead, in the 78th minute, a debatable push on Duff presented Wood with space and the 22-year-old fizzed an unstoppable volley across Heaton and in to the corner to make it 2-0.
The Clarets now face Watford next weekend, needing to get bodies back for the final run in of the campaign.