Ignore also the many outlandish claims made by Jean "The Toothpick" Tigana. Listening to the Frenchman’s long list of complaints you might be tempted to feel sorry for him, were it not for the fact that none of his woes were credible. He moaned, for example, about tired players. This conveniently sidesteps the fact that he had the option to move Monday’s Premiership tie with Spurs but turned it down, so the club could trouser £800,000.
He whined about his players not being given enough protection from Burnley’s bully-boys. What, do they not tackle in the Premiership? And finally, he belly-ached about the sending-off of Sean Davis, despite the fact that had the Fulham midfielder hit Tony Grant’s leg any harder it would have flown off into the Harry Potts Lower Tier and some spectator would have had a unique, if grisly momento of the evening. No, this was Burnley’s night and nothing should detract from that.
After the Derby game on Saturday, Stan Ternent dropped a strong hint that he would stick with the same eleven who won so well against the Rams. He was true to his word and the Clarets lined up with Beresford in goal, Branch, Diallo, Cox and West along the back, I.Moore, Briscoe, Cook, Grant and A. Moore in mid-field with Gareth Taylor once again being the sole striker.
After some neat opening passing moves from Fulham, Burnley had their first run at goal on 3 minutes as Ian Moore burst into the box. As the ball ran away from him, Moore threw himself theatrically to the ground in an attempt to win a penalty. Frankly, it was embarrassing and Phil Dowd rightly issued a yellow card to Moore. The striker was to make amends later.
Five minutes later, Alan Moore won the ball on the left flank. He cut inside and released and threaded a perfectly weighted pass to his namesake. John Harley, who was to have a running battle with Moore all evening appeared to grab at the forward’s shirt, but Mr. Dowd saw no contact and the ball ran safely through to Maik Taylor. It was just after the quarter hour mark when the visitors caught their first serious sight of goal. A sprayed pass from Sean Davis picked out Louis Saha who drove a low shot at Beresford from just outside the area. Marlon saved comfortably.
Maybe Fulham were getting a little frustrated at not being able to get anywhere against a Burnley outfit which closed them down at their every turn. That could have been an explanation for Sylvain Legwinski’s despicably late challenge on Alan Moore, as the Irishman attempted to break away down the left. Deservedly, he found his way into the ref’s notebook.
On 24 minutes, came Burnley’s biggest scare of the half as Steed Malbranque’s superbly delivered free-kick tantalisingly flew across four Fulham players ten yards out. Fortunately, not one of them was able to get a boot on it. They would regret it within 60 seconds. Tony grant played a delicious ball down the line for Dean West. His initial cross was poorly cleared by Fulham. Tony Grant hung another ball up and although the ball eluded Briscoe, Gareth Taylor was on hand to slip between two markers and glance the ball home. Cue delight from the home supporters.
Fulham rallied briefly, and on 28 minutes Marlon had to react swiftly to block a Malbranque effort and concede a corner. From the resultant corner, the ball fell to Malbranque whose swerving shot flew inches wide of the target.
The action swung to the other end of the pitch, and as Dean West broke forward he chipped a superb ball into the path of Ian Moore who had made a superbly timed run. He certainly timed it better than Maik Taylor who was slow coming off his line and could only wave despairingly at the ball as Moore deftly caressed the ball into the goal. This was fantastic stuff from the Clarets and the supporters reacted accordingly.
On the stroke of half time, Burnley could have added an incredible third as a Tony Grant corner was headed down by Gareth Taylor. The ball broke for Ian Cox who couldn’t quite work an angle to force the ball home. The interval was spent watching Sky’s pictures of The Toothpick bellyaching to Mr. Dowd that his players weren’t getting enough protection.
The Frenchman had obviously got his troops fired up at halftime – too fired up in fact. Within three minutes of the restart the Cottagers were reduced to 10 men as Sean Davis launched into a dreadful assault on Tony Grant. Mr. Dowd quite rightly gave Davis his marching orders. Quite how he had the nerve to moan about the decision beggared belief.
He would have been moaning even more five minutes later, when Tony Grant having hobbled back into the action took a corner on Burnley’s right. His outswinger was met with an absolutely thumping header from Drissa Diallo which crashed into the Fulham net. Burnley 3 ten man Fulham 0. They weren’t coming back from that.
On the hour, Fulham offered a little token resistance when substitute Sava smashed a shot into Beresford’s side netting. But the game was well and truly up now. For a couple of minutes every Burnley pass was greeted with a huge "Ole" as Burnley turned the screw on a visibly dispirited Fulham.
With 15 minutes remaining, captain Paul Cook was substituted for Paul Weller. Cook was worthy of the standing ovation from the Turf Moor crowd. The icing on the cake came 8 minutes from the death as Glen Little came on to perform a couple of tricks on his way back to fitness. He replaced Alan Moore who had also played his full part in proceedings.
It says it all that the last ten minutes of this game were played out with consummate ease. Burnley had destroyed a dismal Fulham side who could have had no complaints about the scoreline. Play like this against Watford in the quarter-finals, and the last four of the FA Cup is a strong possibility for Burnley Football Club.