STRIKERS have been a thorny issue at Fulham in recent days.
The prickly relationship between Bobby Zamora and his own supporters has been the hot topic on the message boards the former West Ham player finds so objectionable, while a lack of attacking options has been troubling manager Roy Hodgson for some time now.
This was a game Fulham should have won comfortably after Zamora netted for the second successive game in the 50th minute, but they spurned a host of chances and were duly undone by Wade Elliott’s equaliser.
Hodgson was nonplussed at a return of a single point but believes he will soon boast the kind of arsenal that can fulfil the club’s ambitions of repeating their European qualification from last season.
“I’m hoping pretty soon I’ll have both Diomansy Kamara and Andrew Johnson back to bolster our strike-force and that will maybe make us a little bit more dangerous in the final third,” he said.
“We had a lot of possession in there but we could have done a little better with it.
“But it’s 23 points after 16 games and that’s a very good return considering how many games we’ve played in Europe. Considering we’re still in the top half of the table I’m really pleased.”
Seeking their first league win at Turf Moor since 1951, Fulham started superbly with Duff fluffing an attempted lob in the opening seconds, then Nevland struck a low shot at Brian Jensen’s legs.
Jensen was the star of the show as the Clarets protected their fine home record, the Dane parrying a low left-foot shot from Duff with his legs as the visitors kept carving the home defence open with alarming ease.
Burnley stirred belatedly, the impressive Chris Eagles shooting into Mark Schwarzer’s arms, but Fulham kept pressing with Clint Dempsey close from long range and Aaron Hughes flashing a header wide.
But the home side came out firing for the second half with Elliott trickling a shot across the face of goal and Fulham took the lead against the run of play when Zamora shrugged off Steven Caldwell to shoot coolly past Jensen.
Dempsey’s header from a Duff corner was heading goalwards until it was booted off the line by Tyrone Mears, and Burnley made the most of their reprieve when they equalised on the hour.
A deep cross by Stephen Jordan was headed back across his own area by Brede Hangeland and Elliott struck with a delicious volley from eight yards for his second goal of the season. Burnley manager Owen Coyle hailed his side’s fighting qualities and called on the home fans to recreate their vociferous atmosphere for Wednesday night’s Turf Moor clash with Arsenal.
“The fans were brilliant,” he said. “We have to pay credit to their support because it gives the players a lift and it really drives them on.
“I can’t ask any more of the players I’ve got and we have to do that again on Wednesday night and make Turf Moor a real fortress.”
Despite poor recent form which has begun to suggest the Clarets’ early-season surge has been replaced by a battle to avoid the drop, Coyle maintained his side will continue to play the right way.
“We have the quality and we have players in one-on-one situations who can light the place up,” added Coyle.
“I have asked them to go and be positive and if they make mistakes they make them trying to win.”
REFEREE: Mike Jones (Cheshire) 7: Few incidents to test him but he handled things with authority and was never ruffled.
MATCH RATING: *** Two teams that did their best to play flowing football.
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