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22:17 10th March 2010

Burnley 1 Stoke City 1

TUNCAY'S fifth goal of the campaign wasn't enough to secure City's third win on the road as David Nugent ensured a share of the spoils for Burnley in an entertaining affair at Turf Moor on Wednesday evening.

The Turkey skipper headed the visitors into a first half lead after latching on to Mamady Sidibe's neat flick on, and whilst the Potters should have at least doubled their advantage prior to the interval, they were made to pay just five minutes into the second half as the on loan Portsmouth striker Nugent headed the Clarets level.

Both managers set their stalls out by introducing extra strikers as the game wore on, but despite the best efforts of both Matthew Etherington and Chris Eagles, they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

Ahead of the game, Tony Pulis was forced into two changes as both Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan were ruled out through injury, meaning Liam Lawrence and Matthew Etherington, having recovered from a troublesome knee injury, returned to the starting eleven.

Fuller's absence paved the way for Tuncay to return to his more accustomed role up front partnering Sidibe, with both Lawrence and the impressive Etherington occupying the two flanks. Salif Diao's absence in midfield meant Pulis had no option other than to partner Rory Delap and Dean Whitehead together at the heart of the team.

Brian Laws handed starts to both Leon Cort and Martin Paterson against their former employers, whilst the former Sheffield Wednesday boss was boosted by the news that Steven Thompson had been deemed fit to start after picking up a hand injury at the weekend.

The game began and City looked by far the better side. Etherington, marking his first start since picking up a knee injury in the FA Cup at Eastlands last month, was a constant menace to the Burnley backline as his pace and trickery caused no end of problems.

In fact it was he who delivered the first real test for the Clarets backline with a delightful ball in just the fourth minute, however, with Sidibe ready to pounce from close range, Cort came to the hosts rescue by volleying the ball away from danger.

For all of the Potters pressure, there appeared to be no way through a stubborn looking Burnley backline as both Cort and Clarke Carlisle kept City's strikers at bay.

A couple of trademark Delap long-throw ins caused brief moments of panic inside the danger zone and it came as no surprise that when the Potters did find a breakthrough, it was courtesy of another 'Delap special'.

The former Southampton and Sunderland man launched a missile into the penalty area which Sidibe flicked straight into the path of Tuncay, who made no mistake in powering the ball into the roof of the net, via the palm of Brian Jensen from six-yards.

The hosts looked lethargic and the supporters weren't doing them any favours be jeering every mistake they made. A second goal would have almost certainly killed them, but despite the efforts of Tuncay and Whitehead, who flashed a long range effort just wide, a second goal never came.

It was in fact Burnley, who against the run of play, had their best chance of the half right on the stroke of half time. Eagles delivered a pin-point delivery to the back post where Paterson had the opportunity to score against the club he supports, however, he appeared in two minds and tamely fired the ball straight at Sorensen.

The interval inevitably brought with it a stern talking to from Laws and they came out for the second half all guns blazing. Eagles fired just wide whilst the evergreen Graham Alexander curled an effort horribly wide from twelve-yards.

The warning signs were there prior to the leveller just a minute or two later. Eagles found the time and space to deliver a delightful ball deep into the Potters penalty area which on loan Portsmouth man Nugent met with aplomb and powered beyond City's Denmark international from eight-yards.

That breathed fresh hope into the hearts of the players and supporters, and they really began to assert themselves on the visitors over the course of the next 15 minutes. Germany international Huth did well to thwart the pacy Paterson shortly before Tyrone Mears wasted a glorious opportunity when well placed in the penalty area.

Pulis shuffled things around by introducing David Kitson and Danny Pugh and it was the pair who linked up well to win a corner midway through the second half. Etherington delivered a delightful ball into the mix and Abdoulaye Faye somehow got his foot to the ball, only to see it drop inches over the bar.

Tuncay then blazed wide after dispossessing Mears whilst at the other end Paterson fired straight at Sorensen with Nugent crying out for the ball to be squared inside the six-yard box. Pulis thrust Academy striker Louis Moult on in one last ditch attempt to seal all three points for his top flight bow and he looked eager to impress.

His industrious work led to Kitson receiving the ball 20-yards out, and after turning Cort he fired a powerful effort goalwards, which brought the best out of Jensen. Right at the death, the hosts fired just wide through substitute Kevin McDonald.

The result moves the Potters one point closer to the magic 40, whilst the hosts remain rooted in the bottom three ahead of their crucial six-pointer against Wolves at the weekend.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955