Saturday 24 February 2018

Fantastic Mr Fox gives Hammer blow to Zola

Burnley boss Brian Laws hailed "a huge three points" after the Clarets withstood late West Ham pressure to win 2-1 and claim their first victory in 13 Premier League games.

The win over Gianfranco Zola's side was also the first for Laws since taking over from Owen Coyle and he insisted his side's performance proved they have what it takes to secure survival.

"It was a huge three points and when you talk about games you have to win this was one of them. There was so much pressure but the players were magnificent," said Laws.

"David Nugent scored a fantastic goal and it set the tone of the game. It gave us great belief because we haven't been in this position for such a long time. We've got to make this an uncomfortable place for any team coming here and the fans play a huge part in that. To play under that kind of pressure proves the players can get results."

Laws picked out defender Danny Fox who, in his first game for the Clarets, set up Nugent's opener then fired home a superb 55th-minute free-kick before the Hammers reduced the deficit through Ilan.

"Danny had a fantastic debut and you couldn't ask for more. He's a smart acquisition and there's no doubt he'll help give this team a different dimension," added Laws.

Elsewhere, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was in defiant mood after seeing his side extend their winless Premier League run to 11 games after a 1-1 draw with Wigan at the Stadium of Light.

Kenwyne Jones' 64th-minute header was only enough to secure a point, a result which means the Black Cats have now taken just five points from the last 33 on offer.

"The one thing I am not going to do is give up on it -- I have never given up on anything in my life, so I am not going to start now," said Bruce. "We have got to make sure we are ready for the challenge ahead. We won't give up on it, that's for sure and we will turn it around."

Meanwhile, Bolton boss Owen Coyle felt his captain Kevin Davies was denied a clear winner against Fulham in a game which ended as a goalless draw.

Coyle's struggling side were forced to settle for the draw at the Reebok Stadium after Davies had a late headed goal disallowed for a push on Brede Hangeland. Coming moments after Johan Elmander spurned a fine opportunity, it made for a dramatic end to a dreary clash but Coyle could not understand the decision.

"I think it is fair to say we certainly didn't get what we deserved from the game today," said Coyle, whose side are just a point above the relegation zone. "I can't be evasive -- we have scored a very good goal in the game."

"Everyone in the stadium knew it was a goal, bar one man. That is hard to take, that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It was clearly a terrific goal. Kevin has jumped among a group of players and planted a great header in the corner.

"The referee (Mark Clattenburg) has deemed Kevin has pushed the defender with two hands. I knew at the time there was no contact and I've seen the re-run -- certainly not any two hands that I've seen. Every point is a good point in the Premier League but the galling thing is we were deserving of three points."

Finally, Stoke continued their unbeaten start to the new year with a 3-0 victory over Blackburn at the Britannia Stadium.

Full-back Danny Higginbotham produced the finish of a striker in the eighth minute as he sent a volley past Paul Robinson before Mamady Sidibe made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage-time. Matthew Etherington then added a third in the second half after Chris Samba had been sent-off for pulling back Ricardo Fuller.

"I don't think I have to talk Matty up any more, his performances speak for themselves," said Stoke boss Tony Pulis on Etherington.

"If he was at a different club a lot more people would be talking him up. Matty and Ryan Shawcross have both been outstanding."

Sunday Independent

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