Turf Moor under angry skies and moistened by driving rain is never the most hospitable venue for visiting teams of a delicate disposition, or "Southern Softies" as they are known in these parts.
Under such conditions the East Lancashire climate can often serve as a twelfth man for Burnley. Fulham, with a dire away record and manifest deficiencies of confidence found that out to their cost in yesterday’s Premier League clash.
In fairness to the Cottagers, they worked hard, were always actively contesting the game and may have deserved a point, but the Turf Moor faithful have become accustomed to Burnley winning matches in these circumstances and, after a first half of the season where everything seemed to unravel, they now seem to have got back into their stride.
Fulham’s talented German international Andre Schurrle hadn’t, it seemed, read the script and in only the third minute of the match, he brilliantly plucked a long defensive clearance out of the gloomy skies and teed up a volley which evaded Tom Heaton’s dive and entered the Burnley goal via the crossbar.
It was a breathtakingly wonderful piece of football skill, impossible not to admire, however grudgingly as a home fan for its sheer beauty.
Fortunately, that was pretty much the last we saw of Schurrle, until he sprinted off the field and into the warming embrace of a duvet coat, having been substituted with a quarter of an hour to go.
So it was that, as with their previous Premier League match against Huddersfield, Burnley were obliged to overturn a 1-0 deficit in order to secure victory. Also as with the match against Huddersfield, they were able to do so.
As the first half progressed, Burnley cranked up the pressure on a creaking Fulham defence; an aerial bombardment from the flanks saw Wood’s header clip the post and shortly afterwards another cross was ineffectively dealt with by Fulham and the ball broke to Jeff Hendrick on the far post, whose shot was deflected into the net off a Fulham defender.
It was only a couple of minutes later that a flowing Burnley move culminated in Hendrick scooping a cross in the direction of Ashley Barnes’ forehead. Before it could reach its destination however, another Fulham defender intervened to head the ball past his own goalkeeper to give the Clarets the lead.
So lamentable was Fulham’s defending at that time that it seemed highly probable that Burnley would add to their tally and secure victory with a margin of some comfort.
But to their credit, Fulham rallied; Chambers headed a corner against the angle of bar and post and in the second half, Vietto’s shot was brilliantly and improbably cleared off the line by James Tarkowski.
Burnley, however, did what they do so well, they hung on, and on, and on until the final whistle pierced the Burnley air and three more points were securely lodged in the far right hand column of the league table. They had won – and scored twice – without having had a shot on target, a statistical curio which is sure to keep trivia buffs amused for years to come.
Few teams are as comfortable and as resolute out of possession as Burnley, it has served them well in the past, and has now begun to do so again when the chips had been put down and relegation was staring Sean Dyche and his team in the face.
It is now four consecutive wins in all competitions and the gloom of relegation – if not the meteorological gloom – has been lifted somewhat.
There is still much work to do of course for Sean Dyche. Burnley are now about half way to their desired target; six more victories must be harvested from their remaining fixtures and that will not be easy.
Burnley have at least put themselves in the position that such a target is much less daunting than it seemed a month ago. Huddersfield Town, Fulham and Cardiff now have a monumental task in retaining their Premier League status.
Written by uber Clarets fan Dave Thornley who contributes regularly for Clarets Mad. (TEC.)