PL REPORT: Burnley 0 West Bromwich Albion 0
Clarets struggle against 10 men but extend unbeaten run and edge a point nearer safety
The Clarets missed a golden opportunity to put themselves even closer to Premier League safety by reaching the 30-point mark as West Bromwich Albion negotiated an hour with 10 men.
The dismissal of Baggies’ defender Semi Ajayi for stopping a goal-scoring opportunity with the use of his hand presented Burnley with an ideal chance to secure a fifth home win of the season and push the Midlanders a little nearer the drop.
But on a day when Sean Dyche’s men were way below their best, they failed to make the most of the numerical advantage and in truth were fortunate to end up with even a point.
West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone didn’t have a save to make as the leg-weary Clarets were short of ideas and inspiration.
And the visitors missed a couple of magnificent chance of their own to claim only a third win of the season as they were left marooned in the bottom three.
The Clarets therefore stayed 14 points clear of the Baggies and remained 15th in the table.
And at least by making sure they avoided a first defeat in four league games, the Clarets added to their tally and remain six points ahead of Fulham and the relegation places following the Cottagers’ win over basement club Sheffield United later in the day.
The Clarets’ injury jinx struck again with mid-week goalscorer Ashley Barnes added to the absent list, along with Johann BergGudmundsson and Robbie Brady after they both picked up knocks in the draw with Fulham.
Matej Vydra was able to return, however, as he joined fellow former Baggie in the Clarets’ attack.
And both were central figures in a goalless first half which ended with the visitors down to 10 men following the dismissal of Ajayi.
Rodriguez had missed the Clarets’ best chance when he didn’t get enough on a header from Matt Lowton’s cross to find the target and claim the 100th League goal of his career.
And Vydra then took centre stage with half an hour gone as Ajayi was dismissed.
The striker’s touch just over half way would have given him a clear run at goal until Ajayi stuck out a hand to palm the ball away and snuff out the chance.
Mike Dean – back in Premier League action following a weekend away from the middle – initially allowed play to go on.
But once the ball had gone out of play and the referee was advised by VAR to check the pitch-side screen, it looked a fairly straight-forward decision to show a red card.
In blustery, tricky conditions the Clarets couldn’t make their advantage count before the break and punish the leakiest defence in the top-flight which was re-organised with the introduction of Dara O’Shea from the bench.
That was at the expense of Matt Phillips as Albion’s attacking options were reduced after the 11 men hadn’t been able to test Nick Pope, Darnell Furlong and Matheus Pereira going closest with long-range efforts which didn’t threaten the target.
The Clarets tried to raise the tempo after the re-start and seize the opportunity that had been presented to them.
But they struggled to prise open the visitors’ defence and create the opening that could have led to the all-important opening goal.
Dean was in the spotlight again when he waved away Burnley appeals for a penalty when the ball struck the arm of Kyle Bartley following Rodriguez’s downward header – this time VAR seemingly not taking a view.
West Brom were content to just try and stay in the game and nick a goal out of the blue and the dangerous Pereira wasn’t far away with a skidding drive which went just wide.
And with Clarets’ injury-hit squad allowing Dyche few options from the bench to offer something different, it was left to the starting line-up to try and raise their levels to force the breakthrough until Joel Mumbongo was sent on with 10 minutes to go.
Their failure to do so saw confidence increase in the visitors’ ranks and it was the Baggies who went closest to taking the lead as the game entered its final quarter.
Firstly, Ainsley Maitland-Niles fired over the top and then Mbaye Diagne looked a certain scorer after catching the Clarets short-handed at the back before cutting in and sending his close-range effort against the top of the crossbar.
It was getting desperate for the Clarets as their confidence seemingly ebbed away and it took a remarkable goalline clearance from James Tarkowski - following a touch from Pope - to keep out an effort from Pereira with Albion players almost queuing up to score.
And while there was no suggestion of a winner at the other end, the Clarets still finished a potentially pivotal week unbeaten following a win at Crystal Palace a week ago and thanks to a ninth clean sheet of the season still well placed to get the job done.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Rodriguez (Mumbongo 80), Vydra. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Norris, Bardsley, Long, Nartey, Dunne, Benson, Glennon.
Booked: Cork, Mee, Brownhill
West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Yokuslu; Pereira; Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Phillips (O’Shea 32); Diagne. Substitutes: Button, Robson-Kanu, Robinson, Livermore, Diangana, Sawyers, Peltier, Grant.
Sent off: Ajayi
Referee: Mike Dean