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Fulham hit by enthusiasm - The Times

last updated Monday 17th February 2003, 11:32 AM


AXA FA Cup - Sunday February 16, 2003
Fulham (1) 1-1 (1) Burnley


Fulham Manager Jean Tigana
Fulham Manager Jean Tigana sees his squad suffer with missed chances
Previous Jean Tigana Stories
THIS WAS A GLORIOUS Cup tie. Do not let anyone tell you that Burnley were lucky, that they earned a replay courtesy of a freak early goal. Burnley were architects of a well-deserved draw. The moral of this tie was that opportunism, allied with determination and fine organisation, can reap dividends. It was the Barclaycard Premiership team that were let off the hook thanks to an individual piece of brilliance.
Alan Moore, the former Middlesbrough midfield player, gave Burnley the lead in the fourth minute. He ran up the pitch as if he had had a vision that a long jog and a gamble would pay off. As he ran, Sean Davis passed the ball back towards his defence. There seemed little immediate danger, but Andy Melville and Steve Finnan left Davis’s pass alone, anticipating that the other was about to mop it up. Moore kept running, ran in between them, nicking the ball in the process and produced a calm, neat finish to beat Maik Taylor.

In these days of financial constraint a replay can be a fiscal godsend. “I hope the television take the match,” Stan Ternent, the Burnley manager, said. “It would be a lot better news if Sky took the match.” The television rights debacle has left Burnley with a £4 million deficit.

Fulham’s problems are less straightforward. Will Jean Tigana stay or go? The Fulham manager said he had met with with Mohamed Al Fayed, the chairman, over the weekend, but there is still no firm decision on whether Tigana will be Fulham manager next season. “The problem is not me,” Tigana said. “I need to know about targets. I don’t know where we will play, the new stadium.” Should Al Fayed and Tigana fail to agree fresh terms, Tigana seems likely to give up the game altogether.

“It’s possible,” he said to the suggestion he might simply go fishing. Of more immediate concern is that the replay is scheduled for February 26, two days after Fulham’s televised game at White Hart Lane. Tigana indicated he would try to change one of the fixtures. Burnley would be livid if any change meant the loss of revenue.

The Nationwide League first division team had embarrassed the Premiership club with Moore’s opportunist strike. An onslaught was called for but instead the home fans became increasingly frustrated as Fulham failed to gather their composure. Louis Saha was perhaps most guilty of raising hopes only to fluff the end product. In particular, a clever header from Façundo Sava landed in Saha’s path but Saha shot over the bar. He held his head in his hands, the supporters groaned.

Just before the half-time whistle, Fulham equalised. A headed clearance from the excellent Ian Cox was controlled by Steed Malbranque on his chest. He let the ball bounce and then unleashed an unstoppable strike.

In the second half, Burnley continued to apply pressure, the best of their chances coming from Lee Briscoe. Taylor just managed to hold on to Briscoe’s effort with Gareth Taylor, playing as a lone striker for Burnley, ready to pounce on any fumble. At the death, Malbranque tried to lob Marlon Beresford but put his attempt wide.

Almost 3,000 Burnley fans had travelled to West London and their sheer enthusiasm played a large part in creating a fabulous atmosphere, one in which the Burnley team could convince themselves that anything was possible. It is 52 years since Fulham last managed to win at Turf Moor. “It will be difficult for us,” Tigana said, although he added that his priority this season is not the FA Cup but to keep Fulham in the Premiership.

“It’s not the size of the dog, it’s the fight that’s in it,” Ternent said of his side’s impressive team spirit. “We enjoy our work and have a laugh and a joke,” he said.

Right now that is not something that Tigana could claim. “I know a few players have lost confidence,” he said. Chief among them are his strikers none of whom has found the back of the net in seven matches.

Ternent refused to single out individuals for praise but his two centre halves were exceptional. Partnering Cox was Drissa Diallo, who signed last month from KV Mechelen. Together they looked capable of the move up to the Premiership, which is still a slim possibility for Burnley through the play-offs should they perform for the remainder of the season with the gusto they exhibited at Loftus Road.

Fulham (4-4-2): M Taylor 5 — S Finnan 5, A Melville 5, A Goma 5, J Harley 6 — B Goldbaek 5 (sub: S Marlet, 46min 5), M Djetou 5, S Davis 5, S Malbranque 7 — L Saha 5, F Sava 5 (sub: J Inamoto, 72). Substitutes not used: M Herrera, A Ouaddou, P Womé.

Burnley (4-5-1): M Beresford 6 — D West 6, D Diallo 7, I Cox 7, G Branch 6 — I Moore 6, P Cook 6 (sub: M McGregor, 82), T Grant 5, L Briscoe 6, A Moore 8 (sub: P Weller, 77) — G Taylor 6. Substitutes not used: N Michopoulos, R Blake, D Papadopoulos. Booked: West.

Referee: G Poll 6. Attendance: 13,062
Source The Times by Alyson Rudd

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