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Match Reports

Fulham 2 Burnley 3

8 March 2016

Fulham 2 Burnley 3

Never write Burnley off!

The Clarets found yet another way of winning a game after throwing away an early lead, then coming from behind to strengthen their position at the top of the Championship.

Sam Vokes’ early header was cancelled out before the break by soft goals from Fulham strike pairing Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele.

But Sean Dyche’s relentless side have mastered the winning habit, and when Vokes levelled from the penalty spot in the 49th minute for his 12th goal of the season, you sensed only one outcome.

And when Andre Gray drilled home a sensational winner just past the hour mark, a 10th win in 13 games and first win at Fulham since 1980 sent the Clarets four points clear at the summit.

Midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad made his first Championship start for the Clarets following an injury to David Jones.

The Norwegian’s only other start came at Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League season.

Ulvestad was preferred to the returning Dean Marney, who took his place on the bench having played just one minute of action this calendar year.

There was a bright start by the hosts, whose flurry of pressure forced a series of blocks from an alert Burnley defence that had conceded just one goal in their last six league games.

But in the ninth minute, Burnley struck first!

Scott Arfield had been denied by a late tackle that led to a corner - and when the Scot hung up a cross, a criminally unmarked Vokes nodded home from six yards.

Joey Barton was soon inches away from extending the lead with a curling 25-yard free kick following a foul on Andre Gray.

And Fulham levelled matters in the 17th minute through nemesis McCormack.

The visitors failed to clear their lines and when Dembele fed his strike partner he made no mistake, scoring his seventh goal against the Clarets with a firm, rising drive that gave Tom Heaton no chance.

Five minutes later, the Cottagers stunned Burnley again, as Luke Garbutt’s pinpoint cross evaded everyone to the far post, where Dembele bundled it home from point-blank range.

The whirlwind start continued and George Boyd looked to be clipped by McCormack in the box, appealing the non-award of a penalty after Ulvestad fired the loose ball just over the bar.

And when Gray had the ball in the net just past the half-hour, the division’s top scorer saw his strike chalked off after handling as he spun his marker.

It was easy to see why Fulham were up with Burnley as the league’s top scorers, and Tom Cairney was narrowly off target as halt time approached with a firm effort from distance.

And Burnley would have been glad to get back into the dressing room just a goal behind after a wonder save from Heaton.

Fulham broke four-on-three and from McCormack’s cut-back, Cairney’s first time effort looked destined to extend the lead, only for Heaton to parry the ball clear.

And the Clarets capitalised on that save within four minutes of the restart.

Vokes flicked on a throw close to the by-line and when Gray let the ball run across his body, Barton was tripped as he raced in to shoot.

Referee Dean Whitestone had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Vokes made no mistake from 12 yards.

Fulham’s response again belied their lowly league position and it needed another top save from Heaton to deny Garbutt after the wing-back benefited from a lucky deflection.

Dyche’s reaction was to replace Ulvestad with Marney as the hour mark approached.

And as the clock ticked past the 60 minute mark, the pendulum again swung Burnley’s way.

Gray rolled his marker 30 yards from goal and after shifting the ball out of his feet, unleashed a howitzer that flew past Andy Lonergan in the Fulham goal for his 22nd of the season.

It was a breathless contest and on the counter, Gray turned and fired over following neat approach play from Vokes and Marney.

But Fulham were not finished yet and they threw the kitchen sink at Burnley as the clock ticked down nervously.

And a magnificent goal-line clearance from Michael Keane, with Heaton beaten, somehow denied Dembele as Burnley ground out what could be a pivotal victory in the capital.

BURNLEY: Heaton, Ward, Mee, Keane, Lowton, Arfield, Barton, Ulvestad (Marney 59), Boyd, Gray, Vokes.
Subs: Robinson, Kightly, Taylor, Hennings, Tarkowski, Darikwa

Booked: Boyd, Arfield

FULHAM: Lonergan, Garbutt, Fredericks, Parker (Smith 82), Cairney, Madl, Tunnicliffe, Dembele, Burn (Ince 82), McCormack, Amorebieta.
Subs: Richards, Lewis, Ream, Baird, O’Hara.

Booked: Madl 85

Ref: D Whitestone

Att: 15,281

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