Burnley 3, Fulham 1

  • Andre Gray scores two for third consecutive home game
  • Clarets up to second in league table
  • Burnley unbeaten against Fulham at Turf Moor in 31 matches

Andre Gray scored his third home brace in succession to hit double figures for the season and send the Clarets joint top of the Championship on the third anniversary of boss Sean Dyche’s first game in charge.

It all started with a 2-0 win over Wolves on home soil as Martin Paterson and Charlie Austin secured the points. And he celebrated the milestone in similar fashion as Burnley beat Fulham by an identical cushion.

Gray took his tally to 10 for the term to become the division’s leading marksman when notching twice in the first half before super sub Matthew Taylor sealed victory late on after Ross McCormack had halved the deficit.

The Clarets completely dominated the opening half against a Fulham side that lacked any form of fight or spirit.

Kit Symons’ men, who had netted eight times in their previous two outings, were expected to be compact when lining up 3-5-2 but a dispirited and undisciplined display saw them carved open far too easily.

Gray showed more heart and determination to beat a laboured Tim Ream to Tendayi Darikwa’s long ball only for David Jones to slice wide of the target from the resulting squared pass with just five minutes on the clock.

Andre Gray celebrates scoring the second goal with team mates Scott Arfield and Joey Barton

Andre Gray celebrates scoring the second goal with team mates Scott Arfield and Joey Barton

The striker was alert within 60 seconds to expose a hole between Dan Burn and Ream once Sam Vokes flicked on Ben Mee’s clearance, but Gray’s heavy touch gifted Joe Lewis the ball.

The visitors rarely threatened, lacking incision or invention in the final third, and Jamie O’Hara’s shot which landed in the lower tier of the Jimmy McIlroy Stand from Tom Cairney’s corner was the best the Londoners mustered up.

The away side, unbeaten in five games, couldn’t live with the movement, pace and power of Gray and the £6m man was at the heart of the action again when stepping ahead of O’Hara to head Mee’s cross over the bar.

However, just moments after Vokes was denied by Richard Stearman’s block from point blank range, the pressure paid off as the Clarets took the lead.

Jones’s corner was eventually recycled back to him on the left hand side and the midfielder’s delivery was headed in to the corner by Gray who pounced ahead of Ryan Tunnicliffe.

Burnley’s record signing then usurped Reading’s Nick Blackman to move to the summit of the division’s goalscoring charts in the 37th minute as he notched his ninth of the season.

Mee, Jones and Scott Arfield were involved in the build up before the latter slipped a beautifully weighted pass in to Gray and the former Bees man didn’t need to break a stride before slotting past Lewis.

Joey Barton then fired over the bar from the edge of the box when finding space from Arfield’s pass as the half came to a close.

With Bonfire Night approaching, the away side were clearly given the proverbial rocket up the behind at the interval.

Fulham were vastly improved on their return from the tunnel, displaying more energy, craft and ambition to find a way back in to the game.

O’Hara and Cairney combined infield and the former Rovers midfielder fed McCormack who shaped the ball on to his left boot and picked out the corner with equal measures of excellence and nonchalance.

But the home side responded well and were extremely unfortunate not to extend their advantage.

Jones’s vision sprung the attack, lifting the ball delicately over Burn and in to the path of Gray, but Burnley’s leading scorer was denied a hat-trick when his effort over Lewis came back off the crossbar.

He went close to his third of the evening minutes later when hooking an effort over the top after Burns had cleared Vokes’s header off the line. The Welshman had climbed above Stearman to meet Darikwa’s cross but the defender was well placed to rescue Lewis.

The Clarets went from being comfortable to clawing on to their lead as Fulham probed for the equaliser.

Moussa Dembele rifled an effort over the bar from the angle of the six yard box after bringing Cairney’s delivery down on his chest and thigh.

The visitors, though, failed to find that all important leveller and the Clarets eventually broke away to threaten once more.

Vokes led the counter but, with substitute Chris Long peeling off the shoulder of Stearman, the Welsh international ignored his strike partner and instead found the gloves of Lewis with a tame attempt.

The tension inside Turf Moor was rising but it was an atmosphere that Taylor has thrived on this season.

The former Hammer, who had replaced George Boyd with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, wrong-footed Lewis to guide Arfield’s assist in at the near post in stoppage time to claim his fourth goal of the campaign and send the Clarets joint top of the table.