Leicester climb out of the Premier League relegation zone after Burnley victory
Published 25/04/2015 | 17:31
For the first time in five months Leicester have climbed out of the Premier League's bottom three as their unlikely great escape edged a step closer to reality with a fourth successive league victory, a 1-0 win at Burnley.
In what was billed a must-win match for both sides fellow strugglers Burnley spurned the opportunity to draw first blood when Matt Taylor missed a second-half penalty.
Just seconds later the Foxes punished that error with Jamie Vardy scoring to at least prevent the otherwise-excellent Clarets' centre-back Michael Duff suffering the ignominy of an own goal.
The 1-0 scoreline meant Leicester won four successive league matches for the first time since October 1966 and, after 140 days at the bottom of the table before last week's win over Swansea, they are now clear of the drop zone by a single point, something not seen since since November 17.
For Burnley the wait for a goal goes on as another blank means they are one minute short of eight hours since they last scored on March 14.
That win over defending champions Manchester City now seems a long time ago as they have taken one point from five matches and are now five points from safety.
In the first half there was more penetration on the adjoining cricket pitch - where England's record wicket-taker James Anderson learned his trade - as the seamers made a couple of breakthroughs as Burnley Cricket Club's first XI hosted Enfield in the Lancashire League.
Burnley had been dealt a blow before kick-off when striker Sam Vokes was ruled out by injury, handing Lukas Jutkiewicz his first Premier League start in six months.
The 26-year-old had more yellow cards (one) than goals in 25 previous Premier League appearances this season so it is safe to assume the Clarets were not pinning their hopes on any survival miracles from him.
However, one man they would have wanted their first chance to fall to was Danny Ings but, just two minutes in, the England Under-21 international displayed an understandable lack of confidence after nine matches without a goal and delayed his shot long enough for Wes Morgan to get a block in.
The best other chance of the half dropped to Taylor, making his first start since August 30 after injury, but he could not properly connect with a shot hooked over his shoulder from Duff's header at a corner and Kasper Schmeichel clawed away the ball from close range.
How pivotal the 90 seconds around the hour mark were may not yet be know but there was no doubt in the minds of the visiting supporters, who celebrated wildly after going ahead.
It was a dramatic about-turn in emotions for Foxes fans after Taylor had been brought down by Paul Konchesky when Schmeichel parried a shot from Ings after the Burnley striker had jinked one way and then the other to create an opening.
Taylor, whose last goal was against the Clarets for West Ham in the Capital One Cup in October 2013, picked himself up to take the most pressurised of spot-kicks but - having sent Schmeichel the wrong way - he could only watch in despair as the ball hit the outside of the post and flew behind.
To add potential catastrophic injury to that insult, Leicester went straight down the other end where Marc Albrighton's cross cannoned goalwards off Duff for Vardy to pounce on the goal line.
Burnley had one real chance to salvage at least a point but Schmeichel produced a brilliant reaction save after defender Robert Huth inadvertently turned Ben Mee's cross goalwards.
Survival often hangs on such fine margins and Leicester are winning those small battles, which could ultimately add up to a much greater victory.