Andre Gray broke Fulham hearts Burnley came from behind to beat Fulham in a five-goal thriller at Craven Cottage this evening.
Sean Dyche’s side rather rode their luck after taking what appeared to a routine early lead through Sam Vokes’ powerful header. It was no surprise that a game between the Championship’s two highest scorers produced end-to-end football, but Fulham – marooned in the lower reaches of the table after three wins in their last 23 matches – really unsettled the league leaders. Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele put Slavisa Jokanovic’s side in charge at the interval, but Burnley proved their promotion credentials by roaring back to take all three points.
Vokes grabbed his second of the evening after Tom Cairney was controversially adjudged to have tripped Joe Barton and Gray’s 22nd goal of an outstanding season meant the Clarets could leave the capital with all three points. Michael Madl had kept Burnley’s big-money signing quiet for the first half, but Gray got free to fire in what proved to be the winner just after the hour mark.
Burnley went in front when Vokes produced a trademark downward header from a corner and Barton almost doubled their lead when his whipped free-kick from 25 yards whistled fractionally wide. Fulham were more than playing their part in a watchable encounter and they drew level when Moussa Dembele played the perfect through ball for McCormack to slot home his twentieth goal of the season.
The Frenchman turned the game on its head three minutes later when he chested in a devilish cross from Luke Garbutt. The Clarets came roaring back, after an incandescent George Boyd was refused a penalty for a tackle by McCormack, Gray had a goal disallowed for handball. Fulham remained a threat on the break with one lightning counter-attack culminating in McCormack supplying Cairney, who was only denied a third by a superb save from Tom Heaton.
Barton appeared to go down theatrically in front of the Hammersmith End as Cairney came in to challenge and Vokes dispatched the spot-kick emphatically, sending Lornegan the wrong way into the bargain.
Vokes took penalty responsibility four minutes after the restart after sharing the duties with Gray this season, and he made no mistake by sending home keeper Andy Lonergan the wrong way from the spot. Jokanoivc urged the hosts to keep attacking as evidenced by the number of advanced positions Garbutt took up on the left flank. The on-loan Everton left back was thwarted by Heaton and McCormack lashed wastefully over from a good position.
The Whites looked well placed to cause a shock but Gray had the last word, blasting past Lonergan after outmuscling Madl to secure a vital three points.
FULHAM (3-1-4-2): Lonergan; Madl, Burn (Smith 83), Amorebieta; Parker (Ince 83); Fredericks, Garbutt, Tunnicliffe, Cairney; McCormack, Dembele. Subs (not used): Lewis, Richards, Ream, Baird, O’Hara.
GOALS: McCormack (17), Dembele (22).
BURNLEY (4-4-2): Heaton; Lowton, Ward, Keane, Mee; Barton, Ulvestad (Marney 59), Boyd, Arfield; Vokes, Gray. Subs (not used): Robinson, Tarkowski, Darikwa, Kightly, M. Taylor, Hennings.
BOOKED: Boyd, Arfield.
GOALS: Vokes (9, pen 49), Gray (61).
REFEREE: Dean Whitestone (Merseyside).