Burnley failed to break through the meanest away defence in the Championship as they drew 0-0 with Brighton at Turf Moor.
Oscar Garcia’s Seagulls have proved an organised, methodical, unit on the road - conceding just 10 - and that proved the case again as they dug in for a point to remain on the fringes of the play-off spots.
The Clarets, meanwhile, stretched their unbeaten streak on home soil to 18 games, though lost ground on the division’s top two as leaders Leicester City and QPR won respective games against Birmingham City and Bolton 2-1.
Burnley boss Sean Dyche claimed the away side’s negative tactical structure from the start was a huge compliment as they rarely broke from the rigidity of a 4-5-1 formation, in a bid to keep the Clarets at bay.
However, while the Clarets struggled to play through the visitors, it was Brighton who forced the better openings when profiting from loose balls as they tried to feed off Leonardo Ulloa.
Once leading scorer Danny Ings was denied by a last ditch challenge from Keith Andrews, with the striker combining with David Jones and Michael Kightly intricately in the centre of the park, the Stoke loanee went on to smash the post from an acute angle courtesy of Ings’s clever back heel.
As play switched, with Rohan Ince providing the drive forward, David Lopez looped an effort over the bar via a deflection from skipper Jason Shackell after the Spaniard traded passes with Ulloa on the edge of the box.
With the home side pressing high, Matthew Upson’s clearance cut out the midfield and from Michael Duff’s wayward header, speed merchant Kazenga LuaLua stormed in ahead of Shackell, raced in to the box, but was foiled by the legs of Tom Heaton.
And with first half chances at a premium, David Jones saw his set-piece deflected wide after Ings was caught with a high boot from defender Gordon Greer.
After the break, with the Clarets having limited success through the middle, they once again searched for full-back Kieran Trippier to provide the ammunition and invention from the flanks.
It was his foray in to the final third that led to Dean Marney winning a free-kick on the angle of the penalty area, though from Jones’s delicate centre, Sam Vokes glanced wide of the far post.
Burnley sensed a breakthrough, and it almost arrived from the most unlikely of sources when Duff lifted just over the upright with an outstretched leg once Ings had clipped a cross over the head of Tomasz Kuszczak.
Garcia opted to withdraw Lopez and introduce Andrea Orlandi after Ulloa scooped an effort wide, while Jake Forster-Caskey sliced wide of the target as the away side were restricted to speculative attempts.
At the other end, Kightly averted the close attention of Bruno to lay the ball off to Jones whose measured effort dipped just over the woodwork. Kuszczak then preserved his clean sheet with a smart save from Vokes, saving at his near post after the Welshman had climbed above Greer to meet Trippier’s deep cross.
Dyche then introduced Ashley Barnes, at the expense of Kightly, to face his former employers, and moments later the Clarets went agonisingly close to an opener again. Jones’s set-piece was touched goalwards by Caskey, under pressure from Duff, but Kuszczak showed his pedigree when scrambling desperately to somehow turn the ball on to the upright before Upson hooked clear.
With full-time looming, Heaton did exceptionally well to get a strong hands to substitute Orlandi’s shot once the former Swansea City attacking midfielder had been threaded through on goal, before Barnes almost made the headlines when hooking an effort wide acrobatically.
The Clarets now travel to Loftus Road in a bid to keep the pressure on QPR, with kick-off at 12-15 p.m. on Saturday.