WARNING SHOT AT TITLE RIVALS
Davies fuming as Forest crumble
BRILLIANT Burnley blew promotion rivals Nottingham Forest away with a stunning first-half blitz at Turf Moor.
The Reds arrived at Turf Moor unbeaten in 14 league games, a run stretching all the way back to November 29.
But Billy Davies’ injury hit side – upset 3-1 by Sheffield United in the FA Cup in midweek and missing influential playmaker Andy Reid – proved no match for a Burnley outfit protecting their own proud run.
Goals from Scott Arfield and Sam Vokes – whose brace brought up 16 for the season – made it 20 home games unbeaten for the Clarets and left Davies fuming at his players.
“When you come to Burnley, you have to play a certain way,” he said. “You have to prepare for a certain type of game. And unfortunately, in the first 45 minutes, my players didn’t listen to instructions.
“We weren’t aggressive enough, we didn’t put the ball in behind enough.We didn’t handle the headers, the second balls. We didn’t do what’s necessary when you play a good team away from home.
“Burnley are very physical, very aggressive. They put you under pressure. And quite simply, we never handled it.
“But they got us at the best time possible. We’re missing so many players. We lost Andy Reid to a calf problem on Friday. We lost Raddy Majewski to a family issue.”
A hallmark of Davies’ sides is their rip-roaring starts, but the tables were turned in spectacular fashion at Turf Moor.
Forest were little more than a rabble for the first 40 minutes, the organisation and work ethic on which Davies prides himself utterly absent.
Shapeless and wasteful, the Reds – admittedly shorn of eight players – were second to every loose ball and looked powerless to prevent the waves of Burnley attacks that poured their way.
Forest’s left side – manned by loanee Danny Fox and the defensively woeful Djamel Abdoun – was particularly weak and Arfield had already made several inroads before megging Fox and shooting under Karl Darlow to give Burnley the lead.
Next it was Trippier’s turn to sear up the right, the full-back bewitching Jamie Paterson with a lovely sleight of foot before unleashing a cross that Vokes could not fail to convert.
It was Trippier’s 13th assist of a sensational season that will surely end – one way or the other – with a move to the Premier League.
Unsated, Burnley smelled blood and, after Michael Duff saw a header ruled out for offside, Vokes bagged his second, his low shot hitting Danny Collins and looping crazily into the far corner.
Forest’s second-half response was spirited, with Jamaal Lascelles hitting the crossbar and Rafik Djebbour seeing his goal-bound header cleared off the line by the outstanding Trippier.
Abdoun, too, appeared at pains to atone for his wretched first half, drifting dangerously and causing problems for Burney’s back four.
But it was to prove a brief respite before normal service resumed with Ings (twice) and centre-back Jason Shackell both missing decent chances to heap embarrassment upon misery. Abdoun did eventually net a consolation, nodding home after seeing his penalty well saved by Tom Heaton. And had Jamie Paterson’s drive been a few inches to the right, an unlikely grandstand finish would have ensued. Anything but victory, though, would have been hugely unjust on Burnley.
“A game is never over at halftime, but I think it deserved to be based on the performance,” said Dyche. “We played free-flowing football, we looked like we could score at will against a side unbeaten in 14 games.
“I thought we were outstanding, first class. I just spoke to a couple of people after the game and they said it’s the best football they’ve seen at Turf Moor for a long, long time.
“I promised we’d play attacking football and that we’d give everything to win games. That first half was as good as it’s been.”
FAST START: Burnley’s Scott Arfield scores their first goal