Vokes' focus on Foxes as Burnley fall to basement
Everton 1-0 Burnley
STRIKER Sam Vokes admits Burnley are facing the biggest challenge of what remains of their season when fellow strugglers Leicester visit Turf Moor next Saturday.
Defeat at Goodison Park, where Kevin Mirallas scored the only goal on 29 minutes, coupled with the Foxes' third successive victory, dropped the Clarets to the bottom of the table.
They are still only two points from safety, albeit with an inferior goal difference to all their rivals. However, if they are to stand any chance of surviving, they surely must get something out of next Saturday's game.
What is most frustrating for Sean Dyche and his players is they are playing well without doing their jobs at either end of the pitch: Burnley have not scored for six hours and 29 minutes and have kept just two clean sheets in their last 17 league matches.
"There are going to be a lot of ups and downs between now and the end of the season, but Leicester is massive," said Vokes.
The dismissal of Ashley Barnes for two bookable offences - the first for a late tackle he did not even land on his opponent - just before half-time not only cost Burnley the chance of a point, but also ruled the midfielder out of next week's match.
Aside from the sending-off and Mirallas' goal, which he needed two attempts at after miskicking James McCarthy's cross, the only other real talking point was Everton's failure from the penalty spot again.
David Jones' tackle on Aaron Lennon appeared to be just outside the area, but referee Mike Jones ruled otherwise. Instead of opting for Leighton Baines, who has scored 15 out of 16, Ross Barkley stepped forward and saw his effort saved by Tom Heaton.
Having described Barkley's display and general potential as "incredible" a rather incredible six times in his post-match press conference, Everton manager Roberto Martinez insisted that it was better for Barkley's long-term development that he did not convert his penalty-kick.
"Once you win the game, and you can look back at that incident, I'm happier that he missed it rather than score," Martinez added, reasoning that Barkley grew stronger from the experience.
"From that point on he was like someone who has been playing at this level for his whole career.
"He is only 21 and I was extremely impressed in the manner that he took responsibility, working for the team, showing for the ball.
"He comes from a World Cup experience then all of a sudden he has found expectations, responsibility and an interesting learning curve." (© Daily Telegraph, London)