Goals from Sam Vokes and Junior Stanislas in victory over Doncaster Rovers saw the Clarets close the gap on leaders Leicester City ahead of the Championship top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
However, victory came at an expense as Dean Marney picked up his 10th booking of the season to force him out of fixtures with the Foxes and Watford the following week while striker Ashley Barnes limped off late on.
Results elsewhere ensured the Clarets maintained their 10 point cushion over third as QPR beat Wigan at home though Derby County fell 13 points adrift after losing out to Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
Rovers boss Paul Dickov claimed to have a ‘masterplan’ to prevent the Clarets, but aside from keeping the scoreline goalless until the interval there seemed minimal ingenuity.
The former Manchester City and Rovers striker utilised a basic 4-4-2 formation, though employing James Coppinger as a secondary outlet down the right behind
Mark Duffy. That aside, the visitors employed tight lines in a bid to restrict the hosts, which ultimately formulated a crisper more threatening display.
Despite a front two of Chris Brown and Billy Sharp, the Clarets played ably and precisely from the back, particularly through full-back Chris Baird who crafted the first opening when playing infield in to the feet of Ashley Barnes and the striker’s cushioned one-touch assist sat in the path of Scott Arfield who side-footed a delicate effort just over the angle from the edge of the box.
Immediately, it was clear that Rovers couldn’t handle the drive, energy and intensity of the Clarets, with Burnley boss Sean Dyche urging his players to press high and play on the front foot.
Stanislas, fresh from an impressive display in victory over Charlton Athletic, continued that mentality when racing at Coppinger and rifling the ball in to the box but goalkeeper Sam Johnstone came sprawling off his line to punch clear.
The home side were unexposed defensively, but a rare opportunity saw Brown snatch a yard ahead of Michael Duff from David Cotterill’s cross only to head well wide of the upright.
However, normal service soon resumed as Vokes beat Paul Quinn to Duff’s diagonal pass and, after Coppinger made a hash of his clearance, Stanislas’s bending effort from the angle of the area flashed beyond the far upright.
The pressure became unrelenting, Rovers struggling to draw breath, and Johnstone reacted well to turn Stanislas’s half volley away once Vokes’s deflected drive had fallen kindly for the winger off Abdoulaye Meite.
After referee Tony Harrington waved away penalty appeals, with Barnes seemingly dragged down by James Husband, though replays suggested otherwise, the home side’s now reputable style of pressing paid off again when Arfield robbed Husband, found Vokes, but the Welshman fails to find Stanislas in acres of space beyond Meite.
The hosts were now in confident mood and once Jones stung the palms of Johnstone with an attempt from distance, Vokes’s rebound from deep inside the box was blocked by Meite.
Arfield and Vokes both dragged shots wide of the upright in search of the opener, before Ben Mee’s cross was touched on by Vokes at the near post but Johnstone reacted instinctively to save with his legs.
And in the run-up to the break, Marney’s piledriver was turned over by a back-peddling Johnstone.
Dickov may have been content with that undeserved shut-out, but it lasted less than two minutes in the second half when the Clarets were awarded a penalty.
Appeals were limited as Barnes fell to the turf from Baird’s centre, but match official Harrington spotted a push from Coppinger at the back post and pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Vokes who nonchalantly found the top corner, sending Johnstone the wrong way in the process, to notch his 21st of the campaign in all competitions.
Vokes found the net again minutes later after latching on to Arfield’s penetrative but his finish in to the roof, at the second time of asking, was ruled out for offside.
Stanislas went close twice, firstly from a deflected effort that Johnstone gathered comfortably, before his measured free-kick drew cheers from the fans but the set-piece floated in to the side-netting.
Once again, similarly to the first half, the visitors had a brief reprieve when Cotterill’s free-kick fell for Sharp inside the penalty area but his effort was blunt and the volley found the David Fishwick Cricket Field Stand.
Burnley’s display was simply exquisite, intricate and effective, coupled with an awareness that opened up holes throughout Rovers’s midfield and rearguard.
After a corner was manufactured, Duff stole in to the six yard box and hooked Jones’s swinging corner just over the bar.
Stanislas went close again when combining with Barnes, but the former Hammer powered a half-volley in to the lower tier of the Jimmy McIlroy Stand.
Barnes should’ve doubled the advantage when Jones’s corner fell to his feet but from close range he saw his first shot blocked by Paul Keegan while his second was blazed over.
And the former Seagulls marksman went close again, forcing Johnstone in to a stunning save as the Rovers keeper acrobatically beat away his beautifully improvised volley.
Burnley’s patience and perseverance was eventually rewarded once more though and it was Stanislas who scored. With Rovers having committed men forward, Barnes broke down the right, found Jones infield and the midfielder slipped a pass in to Stanislas who calmly slotted in to the corner.
However, the goalscorer was then guilty of complacency as he conceded possession that led to the booking and consequent suspension of Marney after the midfielder cynically brought down Sharp on the edge of the area.
From the resulting set-piece, Cotterill’s shot had Tom Heaton well beaten but the ball rattled the bar while substitute Theo Robinson skied the rebound.
Heaton then plunged to the foot of his post to deny Brown after Shackell’s headed clearance from Cotterill’s cross fell in to his path.
Johnstone fell to his right to push Marney’s low strike away as the fixture came to a close before an innocuous challenge on Barnes saw the striker replaced by Keith Treacy.