Three-time SkyBet Championship Manager of the Month victor Sean Dyche can now focus on building towards the Premier League after setting a record-breaking points total for the Clarets.
Former boss Stan Ternent had set the club’s previous best in 1999/2000 as the Clarets earned automatic promotion from the old Division Two with 88 points.
The class of 2013/14 surpassed that tally with a 2-0 win against Wigan Athletic last month, but a 2-2 draw with Reading at the Madejski Stadium ensured the Clarets culminated the term with 93 points.
Reading fans flooded the pitch at full-time, believing they’d cemented sixth spot, but Leonardo Ulloa’s stoppage time winner for Brighton at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest saw the Seagulls creep in. Cue dejection, despondency and disbelief from thousands of supporters that had raced on to the playing surface.
Going in to the fixture the Clarets had won just once in Berkshire against the Royals in 17 outings, which came in the promotion-winning season of 2009/10 when spectacular strikes from Martin Paterson and Steven Thompson secured a spot in the play-off final at Wembley.
The Clarets didn’t require that route this time following a remarkable campaign, but it was an ambition that Nigel Adkins’s side were targeting.
With Brighton and Rovers also challenging for the final play-off spot, the hosts set out brightly and were aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty in the opening minute as Jason Shackell - while grounded alongside Adam Le Fondre - seemingly blocked Pavel Pogrebnyak’s strike with his hand. However, referee Michael Russell ignored the protestations.
The opening quarter-of-an-hour crept by without much action, but the hosts took the lead moments later as they broke from a Clarets corner.
Once Ashley Barnes’s effort ricocheted wide off the leg of Alex Pearce for a corner, Michael Kightly conceded possession from the resulting set-piece as Le Fondre found Jobi McAnuff to his right and the captain’s cross was turned past Tom Heaton by Kieran Trippier.
However, the Clarets responded well and equalised as the Royals switched off from a set-piece won by Barnes. Dean Marney’s run from deep was picked out by Trippier and the midfielder’s cross was diverted in to the path of Scott Arfield who thumped an effort in to the roof of the net.
The visitors were well worth the equaliser, having shown the organisation, composure, desire, positional awareness and calmness in possession to control the fixture.
Reading did have their chances to regain the lead though. First Shackell stuck a boot out ahead of Heaton to block Mikele Leigertwood’s fizzing volley after Michael Duff failed to deal with Garath McCleary’s centre, while the Clarets stopper made a fine reaction save at his near post to prevent Shackell from turning in to his own net from McAnuff’s cross.
Still the Clarets were impenetrable and sprung from deep to cause the home side problems, and that ultimately led to another goal.
As Burnley patiently built from back to front, Arfield skipped infield to find Marney and the midfielder’s ingeniously disguised pass manufactured the space for Danny Ings to turn and find the bottom corner from the edge of the box - his 26th goal of the season in all competitions.
That lead could’ve been extended further by the division’s Player of the Year, but Alex McCarthy spread himself well to deny Ings from close range after Sean Morrison had misjudged Ben Mee’s clearance.
After the break Adkins made changes with Jake Taylor and Hal Robson-Kanu replacing Hope Akpan and Le Fondre respectively, and the switch paid dividends.
Adopting a 4-2-3-1 formation, the hosts went on the offensive and found the leveller it phenomenal fashion. Robson-Kanu challenged Shackell in the air and, as the ball dropped, McCleary struck a sublime sweeping volley in to the roof of the net to make it 2-2.
With just over 20 minutes remaining McCarthy plunged to his right to turn David Jones’s shot away after the Clarets worked the ball well on the edge of the area, but it was Reading who threatened again minutes later.
Lone striker Pogrebnyak used his experience to pull away cleverly at the back post to find space from McAnuff’s pull back, but the Russian was denied by a stunning goal-line clearance from Shackell with Heaton easily beaten.
McCleary - played onside by Trippier - had another chance to calm the nerves circling around the stadium when racing on to Leigertwood’s cutting pass between Duff and Shackell but Heaton stuck out his left leg to save.
Junior Stanislas, who had previously replaced Arfield, tried finding the corner with a right-footed effort after cutting past Chris Gunter, but was denied by McCarthy, and in one final push Heaton made a terrific reflex save to keep out Morrison’s header after full back Jordan Obita sat his corner perfectly in to the six-yard box.
Devastation for the Royals, but everything is being geared towards a return to England’s top tier for the Clarets now.