BURNLEY'S clash with Crystal Palace almost seemed irrelevant following the tragic news of the sudden death of Annie, the mother of Clarets boss Eddie Howe.
The news rocked everyone associated with the club from players, staff to supporters while everyone within Turf Moor impeccably observed a one-minute silence in tribute and in memory prior to kick-off. Each of the players also donned black armbands while the flag housed at the summit of the Bob Lord Stand was flown at half-mast.
Howe, understandably, was absent from the stadium to be with his family and assistant Jason Tindall took charge of first team affairs.
Tindall rung the changes from last weekend's capitulation at Watford. In came strike pair Danny Ings and Martin Paterson, at the expense of Josh McQuoid and Charlie Austin, as the Clarets signalled their attacking intent with a formation resembling 4-2-3-1.
It took just 45 seconds for the home side to work their first opening after the sound of referee Dean Whitestone's first whistle.
Jonathan Parr's loose pass was seized upon by Paterson and, in a bid to recover, the offending Eagles defender dragged down the striker as he looked to pull the trigger. Up stepped Jay Rodriguez who fired to Julian Speroni's right from the spot for his 21st of the season.
There seemed a real fluidity to Burnley's front four in the opening stages, working space and penetrating Palace with intricate, triangular passages of play. Ings, making his full debut, almost doubled the lead before the quarter-of-an-hour, slipping inbetween Nathaniel Clyne and Patrick McCarthey, following a neat one-two with Rodriguez, though the legs of Speroni spurned the young forward.
The hosts were comfortable, rarely breaking sweat, though Lee Grant had to be alert when called upon after Glenn Murray broke free from Wilifred Zaha's threaded pass. Grant was then forced to scramble across his line soon after, though Stuart O'Keefe's bending effort flashed wide.
But it was the Clarets who continued to set the tone. Kieran Trippier went close after pouncing on a poor pass but, with Speroni troubled, his low effort whistled by the far post. Once again the Clarets demonstrated a resounding urgency, pressing Dougie Freedman's men high up the pitch, and it was Paterson who orchestrated the next attack. Robbing Parr of possession the forward freed a marauding Trippier down the right; the full-back cut in to the area, pulled the ball back for Rodriguez on the edge of the box whose thunderous drive cleared the bar.
The first half peetered out somewhat, though Palace finished on top. Darren Ambrose's precise cross was met by the head of Murray though Grant made a superb reflex save at his near post at the expense of a corner. And from the resulting set-piece the Clarets stopper palmed McCarthy's header to safety.
Leading scorer Rodriguez, who had been nursing a groin strain midweek, was forced to withdraw leading to the introduction of McQuoid. The enforced change clearly disrupted Burnley's momentum as the forward pairing of Ings and Paterson struggled to impact on the fixture. The promise of pace and energy from the duo rarely lived up to the expectation.
The second half was turgid to say the least, with both sides ragged in possession. The home side proceeded to work the openings and dictate the play, resulting in ample crosses in to the box from both flanks, but nothing well their way.
Paterson's clever turn inside the area foiled any attempts for Anthony Gardner to deny the opening but his measured finish fell the wrong side of the post. The home side's frustration mounted and that soon became despair as Zaha wriggled in and out of three defenders before being pulled down by Trippier; Whitestone pointing to the spot for a second time. Ambrose chose the same side that Rodriguez had found fortune earlier in the afternoon, the pace of his penalty beating Grant who had guessed correctly.
As Burnley fought back Trippier saw a ferocious free-kick deflected over the bar and their hopes of retrieving maximum points were given a welcome boost when Palace were reduced to 10 men. Zaha, who had been the target of the boo-boys after going over with ease to earn the penalty, was dismissed for lashing out at David Edgar in an off-the-ball incident.
But that only made the Clarets job more difficult as the visitors sat everyone behind the ball, intent on salvaging a point from the Championship clash. The Clarets pushed, throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at Palace, but Speroni was rarely tested in the closing stages.
It was certainly two points dropped for the Clarets who may now have to concede that a play-off spot is beyond them.