IT’S HELL FOR HULL THANKS TO BIG MAC MISTAKE
Burnley close gap on Tigers at the top
ABLUNDER from keeper Allan McGregor brought Hull’s five-match winning run to a shuddering halt and hauled Burnley back into the title race.
A dismal contest in filthy conditions was trudging towards a stalemate when Joey Barton’s longrange strike was spilled at the feet of Sam Vokes. The Welsh international gleefully dispatched his eighth goal of the season, avenging the Clarets’ 3-0 defeat at the KC on Boxing Day.
The result leaves Burnley just one point behind leaders Hull and a rain-soaked Bruce looked as miserable as the sky above Turf Moor.
“On days like this, in conditions like this, it’s about who makes the fewest mistakes,” said Bruce, who also saw 15-goal top-scorer Abel Hernandez head over an open goal from six yards.
“Unfortunately, we’re the ones who made the mistake and it has cost us the game.We didn’t deserve it. In the second half especially, I thought if anyone was going to win, it was probably us.
“We created enough chances, especially down the left. We got in three or four times and just needed that little bit more of a killer instinct in front of goal. It’s an opportunity missed but let’s be fair – it was awful out there and it’s one mistake.”
Sean Dyche good-naturedly dismissed all talk of a title challenge, preferring instead to hail the deceptive skill behind Vokes’ goal.
“It’s a fantastic finish,” said the Clarets boss, whose side haven’t tasted defeat in the six league games since that 3-0 reverse at Hull.
“I’ve seen it back and when it pops up off the keeper, it’s almost behind Vokesy. But he stayed calm and just kind of used a really basic technique to scoop and finish it all in one move.
“It’s a good win, but if the league table could talk at the end of season, then it wouldn’t give a monkeys who you beat along the way. All it would talk about is the points you got. That’s three more.”
Windy and rain-lashed, the firsthalf was predictably bleak. Hull at least tried to play football, stringing together several slick moves that, whilst attractive, failed to trouble a disciplined Burnley side expertly marshalled by Barton.
The closest the Tigers came was a point-blank volley from Robert Snodgrass. Tom Heaton proved equal to the task. Once Burnley desisted from smashing clearances into the Lancashire murk, they too carried a threat, albeit it slightly more industrial.
Several hoisted crosses caused panic, the best a Matt Lowton delivery that saw Barton denied by McGregor. The midfielder – easily the Clarets’ best player – also had a free-kick tipped around the post.
“Joey’s been very good and I think he’s enjoying his football,” added Dyche. “But he’s in a team full of very good people. Leadership is shown in many different ways. Ben Mee shows it in the way he goes about his business. Michael Keane is growing into his role. Vokesy shows it in his selfless teamwork, Andre Gray with his goals.
“We all think of leadership in a certain way but David Beckham was probably the classic example of a player who inspired people not with his voice but just by his actions. Joey does that.”
Hull were the better side for much of the second half and might have led had Hernandez shown more decisiveness following a Snodgrass through-ball. The Uruguayan then compounded that miss by somehow heading a pinpoint Sam Clucas cross over the bar.
Minutes later, his profligacy was made to look even more costly when McGregor fumbled Barton’s skidding piledriver straight to Vokes for the decisive goal.
The striker should have had a penalty too, crumbling under McGregor’s challenge only to be booked for a dive.
“It was a pen,” added Dyche. “We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. Last season we had Ruud Gullit on TV saying we’re daft for not going down. Sam does go down, he doesn’t get a penalty and gets booked. Thankfully it hasn’t cost us.”
SLAMMING SAM: Striker Sam Vokes scores the game’s only goal against Wolves