Sky Bet Championship leaders Burnley saw their advantage at the top trimmed to just a single point on Tuesday night following a goalless draw with Cardiff at Turf Moor. The Clarets extended their unbeaten run in the league to 17 games but will be looking nervously over their shoulder ahead of the final half-a-dozen fixtures as nearest challengers Middlesbrough and Brighton both won.
Sean Dyche's side could have ended the night level on points with second-placed Boro too had Kenneth Zohore's 87th-minute try gone in rather than hit the crossbar, though the Bluebirds were indebted to two terrific stoppage-time saves from goalkeeper David Marshall. Prior to the game there was a minute's applause for former Burnley midfielder Ian Britton, who passed away recently and whose goal in 1987 prevented the Clarets from slipping out of the Football League entirely.
Twenty-nine years on their supporters are looking up, rather than down, at the Barclays Premier League, with a second promotion in three seasons very much on the cards thanks to an unbeaten run in the league that stretches back to Boxing Day. However, their play-off chasing visitors were certainly not intimidated in the first period and might have led had Tom Lawrence squared for Anthony Pilkington rather than opting to go alone.
After Sean Morrison's block halted George Boyd's progress in the box, Dyche's side did ask questions of Marshall before the break and he was equal to efforts from Andre Gray and then Boyd on the stroke of half-time. With Middlesbrough and Brighton winning elsewhere, the tension around Turf Moor was understandable and it was only heightened when Scott Malone's low cross narrowly evaded Pilkington.
Stuart O'Keefe then scuffed an attempt harmlessly at Tom Heaton before the audible groans which greeted a misplaced pass from Boyd gave further indication of how uneasy the home fans were feeling. Dyche, who had named an unchanged XI for a fourth successive fixture, turned to his bench in the 67th minute to introduce Matthew Taylor at the same time as Cardiff withdrew the injured Pilkington.
Burnley continued to struggle to break down Cardiff, though, with Sam Vokes nodding Joey Barton's cross over from just outside the six-yard box in their first real attempt of the half. Gray, with 23 goals to his credit already this term, had been kept quiet by Morrison all night, yet it was a surprise to see Dyche withdraw him for Ashley Barnes with 15 minutes remaining as the hosts sought a winner.
That nearly arrived courtesy of Matt Lowton's low cross, yet Wales international Vokes was unable to pip Marshall to the delivery at the near post. And it was Cardiff who almost snatched a late winner, first through Lex Immers, whose shot was blocked by Ward, and then through substitute Zohore. The chance appeared to have gone for the Dane after he got behind the defence and hesitated, but he lifted a half-volley that dropped on to the top of Heaton's crossbar
Marshall then made sure Cardiff would return to Wales with something by pushing Vokes' header from Taylor's free-kick wide before making an even better save to get down and stop Barnes' near-post flick from the resulting corner creeping home.