Where was VAR when it was most needed? When Chris Wood’s stoppage time tap-in was erroneously ruled out for offside, Burnley were denied what would have been an impressive win and three points of immense value against a well-drilled and in form Watford team.
Such decisions serve to feed the ever-growing feeling amongst Clarets' supporters that they are not afforded their due from match officials; that Burnley are not a club of sufficient substance to warrant being given the benefit of the doubt over marginal decisions.
Whether the additional two points that Burnley’s endeavours should have earned them yesterday will come back to haunt them when the points are tallied at the season’s conclusion remains to be seen; one hopes not, particularly in view of the fact that in most other aspects, the Clarets’ performance at Vicarage Road was more than satisfactory.
Nil-nil draws are often drab affairs with little to commend them to the casual viewer, but yesterday’s match was not one of those. That the score sheet remained blank was due as much to the performances of the two goalkeepers, Tom Heaton for Burnley and Watford’s Ben Foster, as it was to the flag-happy linesman previously described.
There can be no doubt that Burnley’s defence has felt more comfortable with Heaton marshalling them from between the posts, and yesterday he had to be at his best to deny Watford on a number of occasions to keep his sheet clean.
Since Heaton’s recall following the Boxing Day mauling by Everton, Burnley have looked to be a more stable structure; more comfortable in their skins; clearer in their minds and more decisive in their actions. The results have thus improved and yesterday’s point, whist a lesser return that it probably should have been, at least maintains the momentum that has built up.
Other factors have of course influenced Burnley’s upturn in fortunes; Ashley Barnes and in particular Chris Wood have re-located the back of the opposition’s net, benefitting as they have from improved service from the midfield duo of Westwood and Cork.
Teenage sensation Dwight McNeill has arrived seemingly fully-formed into the starting line-up and has impressed with his skill on the ball; and a special mention must go to Ashley Westwood, whose improved vision and passing range have been impressive of late; displaying a variety of skills which previously few would have thought he possessed.
Immediate challenges lie in wait for the Clarets in the form of two trips to Manchester in the space of a few days; City in the FA Cup next Saturday afternoon; followed by a mid-week assignment at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
Burnley’s recent revival will be set a stringent examination in those two fixtures; but their ability to rise to those challenges is now a likelier prospect than it was earlier in the season.
Written by Dave Thornley who is a long suffering Burnley fan who contributes regularly for Clarets Mad. (TEC).