- Campbell 25,
- Bent 41
- Thompson 82
**Darren Bent's 23rd Premier League goal of the season helped edge Burnley ever closer to the relegation trapdoor.
Having impressively seized possession from Tyrone Mears, Richardson’s delivery reached Alan Hutton via Bent. All that remained was for the excellent Hutton to dispatch a cross stabbed beyond Brian Jensen’s reach by the on-rushing Campbell. Utter despondency was writ large across Laws’s face.
Not that Campbell’s opener came as a shock. Jensen had earlier done well to repel a John Mensah header following Jordan Henderson’s cross before looking relieved as Kenwyne Jones hit a post after connecting with Richardson’s corner. Even worse, Burnley were coming off consistently second best against Sunderland’s youthfully dynamic central midfield combination of Henderson and David Meyler.
Before kick-off Laws warned his team Bent was “on fire” but Burnley’s defence lost the would-be England striker as Campbell met Meyler’s splendid long pass to the back post and headed down for Bent to tap the ball home from close range. It was his 23rd Premier League goal of the season. Surely it is time Fabio Capello took the hint. “We couldn’t cope with Jones and Bent,” conceded Laws. “They’re quality and they pushed us far too deep.”
Beneath Wearside’s weak April sunshine, Burnley’s hopes of a top flight future were fading away in much the same meek and mild manner they had allowed their protests about that second goal possibly being a shade offside to be swiftly extinguished. “Bent’s strike was a killer. It was a soul destroyer,” lamented Laws. “And I’m told it was marginally offside.”
At least Robbie Blake did not abandon hope. The gifted forward had been on the pitch for less than a minute after stepping off the substitutes’ bench when his incisive pass played in the negligently marked Thompson whose low shot from the edge of the area proved far too good for a hitherto under-employed Craig Gordon.
After barely conjuring a chance all afternoon Burnley had left it until the 82nd minute to take advantage of a Sunderland defence who appeared to be allowing their minds to wander towards summer holiday plans.
Burnley : Jensen, Mears, Cort, Duff, Fox, Paterson, Elliott, Alexander, Cork, Eagles, Steven Fletcher. Subs: Weaver, Carlisle, Caldwell, Blake, Bikey, Jordan, Thompson.
Sunderland : Gordon, Hutton, Turner, Mensah, Richardson, Campbell, Meyler, Henderson, Malbranque, Jones, Bent. Subs: Carson, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Zenden, Da Silva, Kilgallon, Mwaruwari.