Burnley 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1: Chris Boden's thoughts on a disappointing night
Sean Dyche was ever the pragmatist ahead of the visit of Spurs, with a place in the Carabao Cup quarter-final at stake.
He said: “I don’t deal in dreams, I deal in strategy and finding ways of working to try and win games.”
But while the supporters may have dared to dream, as they did back in 2009, on that bitter-sweet night when their heroes were cruelly denied a place in the Carling Cup Final by
Tottenham, any strategy to beat a Spurs side somewhat less than the some of its parts, floundered.
Having gone into Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Southampton sixth in terms of big chance creation in the Premier League, the Clarets huffed and puffed, but lacked the quality to work Pierluigi Gollini – yet to make his Premier League debut.
Unlike the harrowing experience of Ben Alnwick 12 years ago, with the young keeper conceding three on his debut as Burnley fought back from 4-1 down to aggregate to take the semi-final to extra time, the Italian scarcely had a save to make.
While the conditions looked ripe for another memorable cup night against Spurs, as the wind howled and the rain fell at Turf Moor, it took 85 minutes for the Clarets to test the former Aston Villa man, and it was a pretty routine stop at that, from substitute Ashley Barnes.
At the other end, Nick Pope showed he is returning to his best form with two tremendous saves, a one on one with Giovani Lo Celso, before diving to his right to beat away a fierce drive from matchwinner Lucas Moura.
But Moura’s free header, 22 minutes from time, from an Emerson Royal cross, sealed a rather tame exit for Burnley, who have now gone 15 games without beating a Premier League rival at Turf Moor.
Both sides made six changes, with Dyche handing a debut to deadline day signing Connor Roberts at right back, while captain Ben Mee returned at the heart of defence after three games out.
The first half was devoid of chances, with Burnley’s best openings coming from wind-assisted clearances from Pope.
Matej Vydra almost got on the end of a raking goal kick early on, while Jay Rodriguez – who scored the equaliser on that famous night against Spurs in 2009 – was close to getting his head on a free kick later in the half.
In between, Lo Celso pulled the strings for Spurs, who, nevertheless, didn’t test Pope.
The Argentine threaded a pass through to Harry Kane, who pulled his shot horribly wide – half a chance for the England captain.
Just before the break, Kane, who spent the half rather deep, to Burnley’s delight, sent a volley high and wide from a corner, while Spurs could think themselves lucky not to be a man down after Oliver Skipp caught Dwight McNeil high up his shin in front of referee Peter Bankes, who bizarrely allowed play to continue.
Had VAR been in use, you suspect Bankes would have been asked to look at it again, and come to the only possible conclusion, of a red card for the Spurs youngster.
The sides went in goal-less, Spurs having gone 96 minutes since having a shot on target, after their 1-0 defeat at West Ham on Sunday.
In the second half, Burnley tried to get a head of steam up, and Erik Pieters’ fine cross was headed back across goal by Johann Berg Gudmundsson, but hit Rodriguez’s arm as he looked to profit.
At the other end, Pope produced his best save of the season to deny Lo Celso from Kane’s pass, after substitute Chris Wood was dispossessed as he tried to hold the ball up.
But the goal finally arrived as Moura started and finished the move.
He drove into Burnley’s half and found Kane, who fed Lo Celso, and the former Real Betis man played the ball out wide to Emerson Royal, whose cross was met by Moura, heading down and in.
Pope made another fine save to beat away Moura’s shot, with the Burnley defence backing off from the Brazilian, and as Spurs finally enjoyed a period of pressure, Emerson Royal fired straight at Pope from an angle.
Dyche, having swapped Wood and Barnes for Vydra and Rodriguez, replaced both his widemen, as former Spurs man Aaron Lennon and Maxwel Cornet came on for Gudmundsson and McNeil, and Cornet again made an impact.
The Ivory Coast international headed down Pope’s clearance to Barnes, who turned and forced Gollini’s only save.
Then, Davinson Sanchez did brilliantly to stop Wood forcing in Cornet’s cross.
And then Pieters fired over when well placed on the edge of the area from Sanchez’s clearance from a Cornet corner.
It was too little, too late, however, as fans drifted away disappointed after another difficult watch.
They will hope their patience is rewarded on Saturday against Brentford.