A season can hang on certain moments, a club’s fate determined in a matter of seconds.
For the Clarets that defining sequence arrived just before the hour against Leicester City at Turf Moor.
Matthew Taylor, who scored his last goal 18 months ago against the Clarets from the penalty spot in West Ham’s Carling Cup triumph, faced Kasper Schmeichel from the spot after tumbling under the challenge of Paul Konchesky.
The one-time Hammer, making only his third appearance in eight months following an achilles injury, championed his wealth of Premier League experience to shoulder the responsibility from 12 yards out.
However, an untimely slip saw his strike smash the upright as Schmeichel went the wrong way. Taylor, who dropped to the turf in devastation, had scored seven of his eight top tier penalties prior to today with his only failure coming for Bolton against Reading in 2008.
Fast forward just 59 seconds and the Foxes were ahead. A huge turn of events in the race for survival. Michael Duff’s touch from Marc Albrighton’s cross was clawed off the line by Tom Heaton but Jamie Vardy simply made sure.
Cue delirium from the travelling support that had filled three-quarters of the Cricket Field Stand, while the rest of Turf Moor sank in disbelief.
A relatively unproductive opening 45 minutes saw the visitors force the first opportunity. With Duff and Leonardo Ulloa battling for aerial supremacy, Albrighton’s set-piece was diverted to the feet of Vardy who turned his marker and drew the save from Heaton.
Just after the half-hour the Clarets went close themselves. Duff climbed to meet Trippier’s corner before Taylor’s acrobatics forced a fine reflex save from Schmeichel, who was recently voted in the Championship team of the decade.
After the break, the Foxes were handed an opportunity from 20 yards out once Robert Huth had been grounded by George Boyd. The expectation was high as Champions League winning former Argentina international Esteban Cambiasso stood over the ball, but his effort floated harmlessly over the bar.
Ulloa saved Scheichel a job when flicking over the bar as Duff powered a header from Trippier’s corner goalwards, moments before the pivotal episode in the fixture.
Danny Ings, without a goal in four months, wriggled in to the area after combining with Lukas Jutkiewicz, only to watch his attempt beaten away by Schmeichel. However, as Konchesky delayed his clearance, the full back floored Taylor as the midfielder nicked possession.
Taylor, who indicated to the media earlier in the week that he would take a penalty if needed, picked up the ball as Ings strolled to the edge of the area.
Schmeichel went to his right, Taylor drilled in the opposite direction, but the ball clipped the post and careered behind for a goal kick.
And from Schmeichel’s goal kick, the game took another twist. Albrighton latched on to Vardy’s flick on, his cross glanced off the toe of Duff, Heaton scrambled to keep the ball out but Vardy pounced.
Sean Dyche turned to Marvin Sordell, Ross Wallace and Michael Kightly to influence the game, but still the hosts couldn’t find a breakthrough.
Schmeichel made a tremendous reflex save to preserve his side’s lead after Huth turned Ben Mee’s strike in an unwelcoming direction. The goalkeeper was then in the right place to gather Wallace’s shot from an Ings centre.
As the Clarets committed men forward in hope of salvaging a vital point, the Foxes found solace on the break.
Heaton denied Vardy and then plunged to his right to keep out Burnley-born Matty James’s stinging drive.
The Clarets, now with just one goal in 720 minutes of football, are five points adrift of safety with just four games remaining.