Photos: Wigan Athletic 0, Burnley 0
The Clarets culminated the calendar year in third spot in the Championship following a goalless draw with Wigan Athletic.
The DW Stadium, nor indeed Springfield Park that preceded it, have ever been prosperous locations for the Clarets who have a winless streak stretching to 11 games across the two stadiums.
Previous encounters at the new build had seen just one goal in four fixtures - which came during the Premier League campaign courtesy of Hugo Rodallega’s late winner - and this was another outing where clear cut opportunities proved few and far between.
The home side made life awkward for the Clarets in the opening half, with Wigan boss Uwe Rosler operating a 3-5-2 formation that saw a midfield quintet press on the back of a plethora of percentage and diagonal passes.
That approach made it difficult for the visitors to get the ball down and play as the Latics picked up the scraps, with Jordi Gomez firing harmlessly wide in the opening minutes as the Spaniard picked up the loose ball.
It was a sequence that was becoming infuriatingly familiar as the fixture progressed, with set-pieces inclusive. Firstly Stephen Crainey’s free-kick, after Scott Arfield had felled James Perch, floated above the imposing frame
of defender Leon Barnett, before former Claret Chris McCann, jeered by a vociferous travelling support on every touch, was denied on the line by Kieran Trippier after meeting Crainey’s corner with a thumping header.
Marc-Antoine Fortune was occasionally menacing along the forward line, fostering pace and power in abundance, and he was often the beneficiary of flick ons and speculative balls in behind either Trippier and Danny Lafferty. The 32-year-old, once of Celtic and West Brom, forced Tom Heaton in to a save at his near post once McCann and Gomez had combined on the break.
When the chance arose, Sean Dyche’s side were tidy and rhythmic in working the openings with Marney exploiting the space in the channels when trading passes with Trippier, despite hoisting his cross out for a throw in, while Ings went close from a sublime, penetrative Trippier cross that was clipped in behind Barnett for Danny Ings who forced a near post save from Ali Al Habsi with a header.
As the midway point of the first half approached, which saw the Clarets pressing with more purpose, energy and conviction, Marney then sliced wide of the target from the edge of the box from Sam Vokes’s cushioned header.
Dyche was continually animated on the touchline, mostly due to the contentious decisions made by referee Michael Jones, and the Burnley boss held his head in his hands in disbelief as the hosts were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box as Michael Duff clearly won the ball in a challenge with James McArthur. From the resulting set-piece, Gomez bent an effort around the post.
Again, as the FA Cup winners failed to craft a way through a stubborn Clarets rearguard, they once again opted for the aerial route as Barnett sat the ball up to the back post for Perch who rose above Lafferty and fired a bullet header narrowly wide of the far post.
However, while the hosts committed men forward and boasted a physicality, they were susceptible to being caught on the break. That happened when Arfield stole in to the Wigan half, fed the ball infield for Marney who reciprocated by finding Keith Treacy on the opposite flank, but his left-footed drive, after cutting inside, was saved by Al Habsi who plunged to his near post.
Wigan skipper Emmerson Boyce should have done better when unchallenged from another Gomez set-piece, with the defender’s header directed timidly at Heaton, but it was the Clarets who went closest to taking the advantage in to the interval.
Treacy, selected ahead of Michael Kightly, executed a superb reverse pass to Trippier who hit the bye-line, pulled the ball square for David Jones, and the midfilder smashed an effort against the underside of the crossbar, via the fingertips of Al Habsi, before Barnett reacted instinctively to sweep off the line as Vokes pounced on the rebound.
After the break the Clarets were tactically disciplined and were unharmed by their hosts despite their dominance in possession. Ultimately the away side’s endeavour earned a 12th clean sheet of the campaign in all competitions with Heaton rarely called in to action.
Rosler introduced the likes of James McClean and Roger Espinoza at the expense of Fortune and Gomez in a bid to add more drive from deep, but still they lacked the invention or idea to break through.
Ings fired wide of the near post in front of 4,857 Clarets early in the half after turning Perch and Barnett from Lafferty’s centre while at the other end, after Kightly had replaced Treacy, Manchester United loanee Nick Powell fired in to the side-netting after Lafferty and Jason Shackell had failed to clear Ivan Ramis’s clearance.
Duff, who was cautioned for that first half infringement with McArthur, was then withdrawn and replaced by Kevin Long, while McCann left the field to boos when replaced by debutant Rob Kiernan.
Rosler’s men continued to push the Clarets deep but McArthur’s attempt that soared over the bar was all they had to show for their ball retention. At the other end, Kightly drove past Perch, Boyce and McArthur but sliced wide disappointingly from the edge of the box.
It’s now on to 2014 for the Clarets, with Huddersfield Town first up on New Year’s Day.