PHOTOS: Burnley 1, Barnsley 1
POOR refereeing decisions proved costly once again as the Clarets drew 1-1 with Barnsley at Turf Moor.
Before the game a late change saw Carl Boyeson appointed as the match official, replacing Phil Gibbs, and it was he who became the headline feature of the Championship clash.
With the Clarets leading 1-0 at the interval, their task should have been made much easier in the second half but Boyeson failed on two counts. Former Claret Stephen Foster, already on a booking after a foul on Charlie Austin in the first half, dragged back Martin Paterson as the striker threatened to wriggle clear but the incident went unnoticed.
And midway inside the second half, Burnley's leading scorer was clearly felled inside the area - defender Martin Cranie getting nowhere near the ball as he brought the striker down - but once again the referee failed to make the correct decision.
Austin gave the home side the perfect start when scoring his 26th goal of the campaign in the ninth minute. Loanee Alex Kacaniklic fed Danny Lafferty down the left and the full-back whipped in a superb centre for the club's leading scorer to touch past Luke Steele from close range via the shoulder of midfielder David Perkins.
The remainder of the half proved uneconomical with neither side able to string a passage of play together to trouble their opponents. Instead, with managers encouraging their players to press high up the field, the result was often wasteful, speculative balls over the top.
After Kieran Trippier's cross floated beyond Austin at the near post, referee Boyeson waved away appeals for a penalty at the other end when Tykes striker Marlon Harewood was adamant that his drive was blocked by the arms of Lafferty once Chris Dagnall's header had fallen to him deep inside the area.
Skipper Jason Shackell headed in to the arms of Steele from a Junior Stanislas set-piece as the Clarets looked to extend their cushion and the defender was involved again, this time inside his own area, when his and Trippier's indecision was pounced upon by Dagnall and as Harewood attempted to latch on to his strike partner's header, Lafferty made a last ditch challenge to clear the danger.
And as the opening 45 minutes petered out, Lee Grant made a fine save when sprawling to his left hand post to push Kelvin Etuhu's header aside.
The game didn't improve too much in the early stages of the second stanza, though the visitors had the opportunity to level proceedings when Etuhu glanced Steele's clearance in to the path of Dagnall but the striker was unable to find the target as he lifted his effort over Grant.
Foster should then have walked as Paterson profited from Jacob Mellis's mistake before substitute Tomasz Cywka saw his dipping cross narrowly evade the far post.
Both Sean Dyche and David Flitcroft made changes to influence the game in a positive manner, both chasing maximum points for varying reasons. And those tactical changes, which saw Chris McCann, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes replace Stanislas, David Edgar and Paterson respectively for the hosts, saw the fixture open up.
It was Vokes who sparked the home side's next foray forward as he broke from his own half and his pass in to Austin saw the striker tripped by Cranie. No penalty said Boyeson much to the dismay of everyone of a Claret persuasion.
Austin miscued McCann's cross, Chris O'Grady headed wide from full-back Scott Wiseman's centre while a combination of Wiseman and Steele prevented Austin's header from Trippier's cross creeping in at the far post.
Play swung like a pendulum, though the game often became an ugly affair with both teams scrapping. O'Grady brought a great save from Grant as the striker glided goalside of Shackell and Lafferty before attempting to round the keeper, without success but the next attack crafted the leveller.
There didn't seem much danger when Cywka retrieved Perkins's pass with his back to goal and surrounded by claret shirts, but the Polish midfielder dug the ball from out of his feet and floated a delightful effort from the edge of the box across Grant and in to the top corner.
The away side warranted a point for their display, Dyche's men seemingly off the pace again, but they could've secured maximum points to aid their scrap for survival when Mellis's volley dipped just over the bar before Grant palmed substitute Jim O'Brien's strike over the bar in the final moments.
It's now four games without a win on home soil for the Clarets, a statistic they'll look to address when they entertain Hull City on Monday evening.