Burnley administer the last rites as Fulham drop is confirmed
Fulham (0) 0
Burnley (2) 2 Westwood 36, Wood 44
Burnley applied the coup de grace Fulham have been all-but resigned to in recent weeks.
They are down after just one season back in the Premier League - their obit penned with this must-win game only half done.
First-half strikes from Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood were ample reward for an altogether more coherent strategy and goalscoring potential in the visitors’ ranks.
Another toothless display up front was a neat summary of all that has plagued Scott Parker’s men this term. Game and possessed of neat ball-players, but little danger of an end product.
Nine goals in 18 home league games tells you all you really need to know. That is a truly pitiful return which has invited the punishing consequences you would expect.
Not so long ago there was optimistic talk of a dramatic final-day salvation against Newcastle. Instead, the game us up with three still to play, such has been the rapidity of the decline since the glorious win at Liverpool.
With a raft of loan signings likely to depart in the summer, we could be back to year zero in the Championship next season as Fulham join West Brom and Sheffield United through the exit door.
The Whites looked purposeful in the early passages. How could they be anything else, given their dire predicament going into this match?
Only a timely interception from James Tarkowski prevented Ademola Lookman from converting a volley across the six-yard line from Ivan Cavaleiro, then Lookman headed the subsequent cross from Antonee Robinson just over the bar.
Cavaleiro also had England keeper Nick Pope getting down smartish to stop another crack at goal from finding the bottom corner.
But like many times this season, the opening zest proved a red herring as familiar frustrations kicked in, along with the realisation that this is a team lacking potency which was always likely to flounder against a resolute defensive unit like Burnley’s.
The Clarets sent the first warning signs of the shape of things to come when a ball swung in from the left by Charlie Taylor was met perfectly by Wood’s diving header, which looked destined for the net until it cannoned wide off Tosin’s chest – the Fulham defender knowing little about it.
It was only a temporary reprieve though, as in the very next attack, Matej Vydra got to the byline after skipping around Joachim Andersen all too easily and Westwood was on hand to poke home.
Vydra’s snapshot from the left after the Whites had frittered possession almost doubled the lead but the Clarets did not have to wait long for their second and it came when Chris Wood latched on to Josh Brownhill’s pass – planting it firmly inside Alphonse Areola’s left-hand post.
Aleksandar Mitrovic headed a corner straight at Pope and nodded another effort into the side-netting as the Whites did their best to get back into it after the break. Josh Maja came on for Kenny Tete as Fulham went for broke.
But in truth, a comeback never looked likely, although Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa did give the woodwork an almighty going over with a shot from the edge of the area which crashed against the underside of the bar.
Burnley, who needed the win to guarantee their safety, did not display any signs of tension, in spite of the importance of the occasion.
They saw out the game well and might even have added a third – substitute Jay Rodriguez denied by a fine save from Areola. Once again, it has been a job well done by boss Sean Dyche.
Whites: (4-2-3-1) Areola – Tete (Maja 54), Andersen, Tosin (Loftus-Cheek 74), Robinson – Anguissa, Lemina – Cavaleiro, Decordova-Reid (Onomah 66), Lookman – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Rodak, Hector, Ream, Bryan, Aina, Carvalho
Clarets: (4-4-2) Pope – Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee Taylor – Brownhill, Westwood, Cork, McNeil – Vydra (Rodriguez 67), Wood (Barnes 86). Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Gudmundsson, Stephens, Pieters, Norris, Bardsley, Dunne