Burnley 3-1 Fulham: Andre Gray at the double again
Last Updated: 03/11/15 11:46pm
Andre Gray's third home brace in a row propelled in-form Burnley to a hard-fought 3-1 victory as Fulham's miserable, winless run at Turf Moor continued in the Championship on Tuesday evening.
Sean Dyche's side have reacted impressively to relegation from the Premier League, having kept the core of last season's squad - Danny Ings aside - and made some wily summer additions.
Club-record acquisition Gray has been the most impressive of the new boys and the former Brentford striker took his goal tally to seven in six matches as Fulham were overcome.
Kit Symons' men arrived in Lancashire looking to become the first Whites side since 1951 to win at Turf Moor, although it soon became apparent that hideous run would likely stretch to a 26th league match.
Gray needed just 18 minutes to open the scoring and followed up that header with a low strike as half-time approached, giving Burnley a lead their dominance deserved.
The 24-year-old struck the crossbar in his second-half quest to complete a hat-trick, but Ross McCormack coolly curled home to set up a nervy ending - tension lifted as substitute Matt Taylor struck home in stoppage time.
Fulham's first-half display was drab and uninspired by comparison, with goalkeeper Joe Lewis - in for the injured Andy Lonergan - seeing David Jones flash wide before Sam Vokes narrowly headed over.
The powerful Wales striker was soon proving a nuisance again, reacting well after initially missing the ball to hit a goal-bound strike that Dan Burn met with a crucial block.
The Fulham goal would soon be breached, though, as Jones swung in a superb cross from the left, with Gray rising highest to head home.
The big-money summer signing was soon pushing for a second, wriggling free in the box and getting away a shot that led the home fans to call for a handball against Tim Ream.
Fulham were enjoying the lion's share of possession but lacked the hosts' cutting edge, which saw them double their advantage when Gray latched onto Scott Arfield's fine through ball to rifle home.
It could have been worse had Joey Barton done better from the edge of the box before half-time was called - a period of welcome respite for Fulham.
It looked to have done the visitors the world of good and six minutes after the break, they reduced the deficit, with McCormack showing impressive composure to curl home.
Gray was just centimetres away from the perfect riposte after dinking Jones' wonderful, clipped ball onto the crossbar, before firing over after a Vokes header was cleared off the line by Burn.
The second half was a more entertaining end-to-end encounter thanks to an improved Fulham display, with highly-rated Moussa Dembele showing impressive control and skill in flashing a volley just over.
The 19-year-old was denied by Tom Heaton either side of a blocked McCormack attempt as the visitors pushed for an equaliser which never materialised.
Instead, Burnley added extra gloss to the scorelines as Taylor reacted quickly to turn home in stoppage time.
The Clarets are second in the table, behind leaders Hull on goal difference, while Fulham are 11th.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche said:
"We know there's no guarantees - you have to be ready every single time and you have to find different ways of operating, different ways of winning.
"But we are a good side so we have got to operate in a manner that can be effective and it is a case of so far (so good), but it is a so-far situation because we know it is a marathon not a sprint."
Fulham manager Kit Symons said:
"You lose games of football sometimes, but if you are going to go down then go down with your boots on, having a right go and We did that in the second half so I have no complaints with the second half.
"I thought we were very brave, really had a go and if we had got something out of the game then I don't think too many people could have complained, really."