Defensive resilience has been vital says skipper

Burnley's defensive resilience has been one of the stories of the season according to skipper Tom Heaton.

Monday, 10th April 2017, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:25 pm
England's John Stones (right) holds of Spain's Iago Aspas (behind) as England goalkeeper Tom Heaton clears the ball during the International Friendly at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 15, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.

The Clarets goalkeeper chalked up a ninth clean sheet of the term in the goal-less draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside to push the club another point closer to survival.

It was the third time that Sean Dyche’s side had kept their opponents out on the road in the top flight, following stalemates against Manchester United and Sunderland, which helped them climb back up to 12th in the table.

With Burnley sporting the second best defensive record in the bottom half of the division, behind Boro, the England international said: “It’s been a base for us since my time here and it’s been another factor this year.

“It’s nine clean sheets now, it’s a good return at this stage and it gives us a good foundation to go on and get some results.”

Heaton made a significant intervention when repelling Alvaro Negredo’s acrobatic attempt in the second half while Matt Lowton’s heroics on the line denied both Grant Leadbitter and Daniel Ayala in quick succession.

“They are fighting for their lives and they have nothing to lose, which can be dangerous, and last 10 or 15 minutes you could see that but we matched it really well,” said Heaton.

“It was bodies on the line, Lowts heading one off the line and then clearing one off the line, Wardy’s tackle, Keano had a few interceptions, Ben Mee.

“We were trying to get rid of that monkey on the back of the first win. But it’s important we didn’t get beat and we stood up well to the challenge.”

The point took the Clarets eight points clear of 18th place Swansea City with six games remaining, meaning safety is now within touching distance, but Heaton knows that there’s still a job to be done.

“It’s a very big point,” he said. “It was a tight game, it could have gone other way, but all in all it’s a good point and a good clean sheet away from home.

“There’s still a job to be done. We’re still looking upwards but with the nature of the division you can’t get away from the fact you do glance down to see what the situation is.

“The focus has to remain on one game at a time.”