Burn­ley close gap on Tigers at the top

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

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

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