Richard Osman and Fulham left pointless by relentless Burnley
Burnley won a fifth successive Championship game last night with a 3-2 win at Fulham and in doing so came from behind to win for a second time having done just that at Bolton a week and a half ago.
It was three points that, at half time, I didn’t think we were going to get. We went in for the interval 2-1 down and quite honestly the scoreline could have been worse than that. Sean Dyche said he reminded the players at half time that we are where we are for a reason and, lo and behold, they came out, got level quickly and then went on to win it with a sensational third goal.
Sam Vokes had scored the first two. He gave us the lead with an early header from a Scott Arfield corner, scored the equaliser from the penalty spot and that left Andre Gray to score the winner for the third time in ten days with a simply stunning finish.
We might not have created too much after that but we defended resolutely as Fulham did a Blackburn and hurled big high ball after big high ball into our box. The defending, which had left much to be desired in the first half, stood up to everything to the point that I can’t recall Tom Heaton having to make a save.
Five of us departed by car just after lunch yesterday afternoon. Weather apart, it was a trouble free journey all the way. We often play Pointless on long journeys to pass the time but, probably because of Richard Osman’s committed support of Fulham, we gave it a miss for once.
This site’s message board is often a source of useless information, often posted by myself, but can also, at times, prove invaluable. Thanks to Herts Clarets for the parking advice. It allowed us to get parked up just after five and without charge. It left us ample time to saunter across the river at Putney Bridge to enjoy a pint and some tea before the short walk back to Craven Cottage and its unique neutral end.
Prior to leaving the pub came the disappointing news that David Jones was ruled out. He’s such an influential player that he is always going to be missed. Fredrik Ulvestad, who played both of our FA Cup ties this campaign, came on for him in the derby win and he got his first league start of the season with fit again Dean Marney on the bench.
Former Preston and Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan was right in front of us for the first half and within no time at all he was picking the ball out of the net when Sam Vokes hit home. Lonergan and Fulham were relieved to see the flag had already gone up for offside.
But it was Fulham who grabbed the early initiative and more than once we found ourselves scrambling the ball away from our own box as the home side looked to gain an early advantage. We couldn’t get the ball, but when we did it was us who took the lead.
Scott Arfield looked all set to get a shot on goal only for the home defender to get it out for a corner. Arfield, in the absence of Jones, was on corner taking duty and Vokes found space for himself to power home a header to give us the lead.
It might have been two soon after with Joey Barton so close to scoring from a free kick. We all expected him to hit it over the wall but he kept the kick low, curled it round the defenders only to see it go inches wide.
I’m not sure how it came about but that seemed to signal a complete change in the game. Suddenly there was only one team in it and it wasn’t us. Fulham had us in all sorts of trouble defensively. Only Michael Keane in the back four looked anything like his best and suddenly two goals in five minutes saw Fulham go in front.
Ross McCormack got the first when a ball was played between Ben Mee and Stephen Ward, and for the second they got the better of Matt Lowton down the flank with neither Mee nor Tom Heaton dealing with the cross leaving Moussa Dembele with the simplest of chances.
It could have been even worse to be honest but we should have been given the chance to equalise when George Boyd was clipped in the box. It was, unquestionably, a penalty and just to make it worse, Ulvestad’s following shot took a deflection over the bar with referee Dean Whitestone, who had missed the penalty, then awarding a goal kick.
I have to say, in the referee’s defence, that I thought he had a very good game throughout and I’d be hard pushed to find too many errors. It’s his second Burnley game this season and his second very good performance.
Right on half time, with Fulham again in the ascendancy, a ball in from the right was met by Tom Cairney whose shot was saved well by Heaton going down to his right. It allowed us to go in at half time with just a one goal deficit; it really could have been more.
I imagine that Dyche tore a strip off them in the dressing room and we came out for the second half and immediately looked so much better. It took us just four minutes to get the equaliser. Barton was fouled in the box and this time Whitestone pointed to the spot. Vokes made no mistake for his second of the game.
Things really were looking better now but the game had proved to be a difficult one for Ulvestad who was withdrawn just before the hour. Two minutes later and his replacement, Marney, got an assist on the winner.
Heaton collected the ball and kicked it long into the Fulham half. A defender got a head to it but only as far as Marney who headed it down for Gray. He got the better of Michael Madl who I think got the touch on the ball for Gray to hammer home right footed from outside the box. From the far end it looked a stunning finish.
There was still almost half an hour to go but I thought we were in control although we did have some defending to do. As time started to run out for them they started to launch more and more high balls into our box. They even brought on the former Oldham and Leeds battering ram Matt Smith.
We’d not looked good defensively in the first half, now we looked almost unbeatable. Yes, we had to win a lot of headers but there’s little you can do to stop a barrage of high balls coming into your box. The two central defenders were now outstanding and also a special mention for my man of the match Vokes. Having scored two goals I lost count of the number of headers he won in his own box.
When the board went up for five extra minutes, with news that Lee Frecklington had scored a winner for Rotherham against Middlesbrough coming through, I thought we could have done with couple of minutes less. But Fulham didn’t get a chance, we saw it out, and at the final whistle had secured a fifth successive win to move us four points clear at the top of the table.
I’m not counting any chickens yet, not even close to it. We’ve a long way to go, ten more games, but it is just incredible right now watching this relentless Burnley side. We’ve even got the good news that for Joey Barton to receive a suspension for yellow cards he’ll now have to collect seven more in those last ten games. He’s currently on eight with the amnesty for ten coming this Sunday.
I’d like to say the return journey was trouble free but motorway closures on both the M4 and M6 put paid to that but we were on our way home with three more points. It doesn’t matter when you’ve won, you can put up with it all.
No Pointless on the way home. I usually play the Richard Osman part. The others haven’t worked out yet that you can’t look silly not knowing answers if you have them in front of you.
He’ll be back on tonight but he and his team went home pointless last night because, in the second half, they couldn’t come with the relentless Burnley.
The teams were;
Fulham: Andy Lonergan, Michael Madl, Dan Burn (Rohan Ince 83), Fernando Amorebieta, Ryan Fredericks, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Scott Parker (Matt Smith 83), Tom Cairney, Luke Garbutt, Ross McCormack, Moussa Dembele. Subs not used: Joe Lewis, Jazz Richards, Tim Ream, Chris Baird, Jamie O’Hara.
Yellow Card: Michael Madl.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Fredrik Ulvestad (Dean Marney 59), Joey Barton, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Rouwen Hennings.
Yellow Cards: George Boyd, Scott Arfield.
Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).
Click HERE to vote for your man of the match.
Click HERE to leave your player ratings.