Perfect six for Fulham

Click to follow
The Independent Online

As the entire country ran out of gas, it appeared for a good part of the evening that Fulham's attempt to record their best-ever start to the season would be similarly afflicted.

As the entire country ran out of gas, it appeared for a good part of the evening that Fulham's attempt to record their best-ever start to the season would be similarly afflicted.

But at Craven Cottage, a spirited Burnley were finally overcome as the home side eventually put their foot to the floor to record their sixth consecutive win.

Fulham's casual Sunday afternoon 5-1 demolition of Barnsley had boded ill for Burnley, although the visitors had nothing to fear early on. After inconclusive opening exchanges, Burnley took the lead with a free-kick from Paul Cook which deflected off the Fulham wall, comprehensively wrong-footing Maik Taylor.

Suitably stunned, Fulham responded with Steve Finnan sending Lee Clark through on the left side of the penalty area, his cross met firmly by Barry Hayles but blocked by the massed ranks of the Burnley defence. The Fulham pressure continued with Hayles catching centre-half Gordon Armstrong in possession, but top scorer Louis Saha, a £2.1 million bargain from Metz who had scored seven goals in six games, failed to add to his season's tally when through on goal.

Fulham's play thereafter, like the engines of the nation's motor vehicles, spluttered with Rufus Brevett frequently guilty of over-elaboration at left-back, rescued only by captain Chris Coleman who displayed his customary cool demeanour.

It might have been worse for Fulham, too, as John Mullin swung and missed at a low cross from Glen Little. Order was almost restored when Paul Crighton got down well to save a firm Hayles drive at the other end.

A succession of chances and strikes on goal followed in the first 10 minutes with Fernandez and Clark going close.

Goldbaek then struck the goal Fulham deserved, hitting a free-kick that he himself had earned into the top corner from 25 yards.

Burnley made clear their determination to win the game with the introduction on the hour of Graham Branch, their goalscorer in the 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. It was Fulham, however, who continued to attack with menace and Saha put them into the lead on 64 minutes.

A fine turn and threaded ball from Fernandes left Saha with a run on goal, a slick move complemented by his exuberant finish. Saha then added a second, stroking home another fine free-kick after he was fouled by Lee Briscoe, an offence which earned the Burnley player a red card.

Fulham: Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Coleman, Clark, Hayles, Goldbaek, Saha, Davis, Fernandes. Substitutes: Hahnemann, W Collins, Lewis, Boa Morte, Knight.

Burnley: Crichton, Little, Thomas, Cox, Armstrong, Cook, Cooke, Briscoe, Weller, Ball, Mullin. Substitutes: Branch, Payton, Jepson, Maylett, Mellon.

Referee: T Parkes (Birmingham).

Comments