Wednesday 26 July 2017

Laws vows to fight until the end as Bent batters hopes

SUNDERLAND 2
BURNLEY 1

Rob Stewart

IT MIGHT be Mission: Implausible for Burnley but as far as manager Brian Laws is concerned it is certainly not a case of Mission: Impossible although the spectre of relegation has now grown at Turf Moor.





Laws last night remained defiant even though the club's Premier League adventure appears to be almost over but they will not be going down without a fight judging by their efforts during this potentially critical defeat.

Fraizer Campbell and Darren Bent's goals gave Burnley an insurmountable task but Steven Thompson's late effort showed Laws' club will not go back to the Championship without a fight after a solitary season in the top division.

"Our chances of avoiding relegation are slim but not impossible and we still take heart from other teams that have done it," Laws said. "It's going to take a lot of great belief in ourselves because no one else believes we can do it. People said last week we'd never win another game but we did and with that fighting spirit we will give ourselves a chance.

"Who is to say we won't get nine points? Who can guarantee what the results will be? You can't predict them.

"It was always going to be tough job to keep Burnley up. I don't like using excuses but we have the lowest budget in the Premier League by a mile. We're trying to achieve something that's never been done on a budget of our size. Yet we still think we can do it. If we do that'll be a tremendous achievement."

Second-bottom Burnley, buoyed by last week's 4-1 win at Hull, looked fragile at the back as their defenders struggled to get to grips with Kenwyne Jones and Bent. Brian Jensen brilliantly denied John Mensah and Jones rattled a post before Burnely resistance was ended as Laws' side -- without David Nugent due to hamstring trouble -- were pushed towards the brink in the 25th minute.

Campbell flicked in the overlapping Alan Hutton's cross from close range to finish off a move instigated by the tenacious winger Kieran Richardson.

The visitors, victorious in just two of 16 games under Laws, seemed resigned to their fate and Bent side-footed home after Campbell nodded Jordan Henderson's through-ball across the goalmouth.

"It was a soul-destroying first half and their second goal was a killer but it was offside," Laws said. "Some will say it was marginal but we are not looking for luck we just want accuracy."

Burnley stuck to their task; Laws sent on Robbie Blake and it paid immediate dividends as he picked out Thompson with a clever pass and the Scot thumped a low shot past Gordon in the 82nd minute. Burnley remain four points adrift of safety.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who revealed that midfielders Henderson and David Meyler were poised to sign five-year contracts, can look forward optimistically after the club's Premier League status was safeguarded.

"It is mission: accomplished," Bruce said. "We can only get bigger, better and stronger. The top eight will take some catching but our aim is to be the best of the rest. I was confident we would be okay when we got our big players. We have been terrific at home but we still have to address our away form."

He also had words of comfort for fellow Wallsend Boys' Club graduate Laws: "For anyone who is manager of Burnley it is very difficult in the best league in the world and they did well to get in it after finishing sixth in the Championship last year. It was unbelievable but it was always going to be difficult to sustain."

Sunday Independent

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