But league leaders have now not won in three games and look vulnerable
Burnley still remain top - three points clear of title rivals Middlesbrough
Cardiff sit seventh in the division - two points clear of the play-off spots
Statistics are there to be interpreted any way you please. Burnley say they now boast a 17-match unbeaten run, dating back to Boxing Day. Middlesbrough and the rest of the chasing pack’s angle on that? Well, the Championship leaders have now not won in three and are there to be caught.
Sean Dyche does not buy their argument, unwavering in his belief that Lancashire will house another Premier League representative come August, even after a trio of draws. If this is the peak of their wobble he will be a very happy man.
‘I have to look at the whole season,’ he said on a disappointing night when their lead at the Championship’s summit was cut to a single point.
‘Add these three draws to six wins on the trot and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. That’s the reality. We’ve come from eight points behind the leaders on Boxing Day.’
They were nowhere near their best, struggling for cohesion in midfield and curiously finding rhythm difficult to muster. The end result was another point on the board ahead of Leeds’ trip here on Saturday. Keep on keeping on.
‘There’s a lot of good work being done and more to do,’ Dyche added. ‘The mentality of the players is very important. There’s plenty of energy and endeavour. We can’t define what everyone else is going to do. It’s another clean sheet, that’s 16 this season. We’re the highest scorers in the division.’
TURF MOOR MATCH FACTS
Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Mee, Keane, Ward, Boyd, Barton, Jones, Arfield (Taylor, 66), Vokes, Gray (Barnes, 76).
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Kightly, Marney, Darikwa, Tarkowski.
Cardiff: Marshall, Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Malone, O'Keefe (Zohore, 82), Dikgacoi, Ralls, Lawrence (Noone, 82), Pilkington (Gunnarsson, 66), Immers.
Subs Not Used: Moore, Fabio, Whittingham, Ameobi
Others won closing the gap. The Clarets toiled, knowing they are six games away from the end of another captivating second-tier season, the sort of which to have become the norm on a night they marked the passing of Ian Britton, who died at 61 after a battle with prostate cancer last week.
Britton was instrumental in Burnley retaining their Football League status in 1988 and that this display against Cardiff should prompt such angst from the stands shows what a different football club stands here now.
Anthony Pilkington was sprightly for the Welsh side, seeing an early shot bravely blocked after Scott Malone’s effort had been deflected wide for a corner. Pilkington, born down the road in Blackburn territory Darwen, would later fire over on the turn while Stuart O’Keefe found a pocket but fired straight at Tom Heaton.
Cardiff’s upturn in fortunes this season have coincided with the deployment of Pilkington as a central striker, his movement in behind menacing and hold-up play robust enough to warrant Russell Slade persisting with what began as a gamble.
Slade, hoping to launch what had seemed an improbable play-off bid, will have gone in at half-time frustrated after the chances his side carved. The Bluebirds were sharp, quick on the break, and - when Tom Lawrence had Burnley two on one - should have taken the lead.
On loan from Leicester City, Lawrence pounced on Bee Mee’s dithering but galloped towards goal too quickly, running out of room when deciding whether to find the unmarked Pilkington or shoot. In the end he did neither.
‘I didn’t think it would end up 0-0,’ Russell Slade said. ‘There was no plan to come here and nick a point. You want quality and composure and both teams lacked that.’
George Boyd was also guilty of taking too much time, not pulling the trigger quickly enough when slipped clean through by Sam Vokes and allowing Sean Morrison to avert any danger. That was Burnley’s best chance in a strangely disjointed first half, until Boyd fired straight at David Marshall alone at the back post. Either side of the Scotland international and the Championship leaders would have led.
The natives were restless, groaning at lumped balls or misplaced passes, gasping as Malone robbed Matthew Lowton, his eventual cross just evading everybody. Dyche hadn’t awoken a slumbering Burnley who could not build the sort of momentum with which they pummel opposition into submission when in east Lancashire.
O’Keefe spurned another chance, swivelling on the edge of Heaton’s box but failing to connect properly, and the murmurs struck a worried tone. The sight of Pilkington hobbling off will have Slade equally twitchy, the former Huddersfield man key if they are to squeeze into that top six. Pilkington left Turf Moor in a brace and is due for a scan on Wednesday.
Vokes nodded over from Joey Barton’s smart centre as Dyche threw on Ashley Barnes in search of a winner, his first appearance here for 11 months after a horrific knee injury sustained on the final day of last season at Aston Villa.
This was not subtle from Dyche, two big burly centre forwards in hope of a knockdown. Burnley cried foul in the box as Barnes was bundled over but nothing doing.
Cardiff were so close to clinching all three from the toughest of Championship assignments. Lex Immers was ready to tap in a late winner at the other end but for a huge Stephen Ward challenge; then, on the break, Kenneth Zohore was clear, only to see his lob cannon back off Heaton’s bar.
Marshall did his bit at the other end too, brilliantly saving from Vokes and then Barnes in stoppage-time. Slade added: ‘Burnley could’ve stolen it in the dying seconds but on the balance of play that would’ve been very cruel on us.
‘We’re running out of games now. Who knows how many points it will take to nick a slot?’