PL REPORT: West Ham Utd 1 Burnley 0
Finishing touch still missing as Clarets come up just short again
The Clarets again fell the wrong side of the slenderest of margins as things start to become equally tight again at the bottom end of the Premier League.
For the third time in four games, Burnley lost by a single goal as they slipped a place below Brighton to 17th spot in the table.
An early strike from Michail Antonio was enough to give West Ham a third successive win in league and cup as they stayed comfortably in the top half.
But the Clarets’ cushion at the other end is being diminished as their struggles in front of goal continue.
The introduction of Dwight McNeil – who announced his arrival on the Premier League stage against West Ham a couple of years ago – prompted a second-half fightback.
But Burnley’s efforts are currently being hamstring by a shortage of firepower as a third successive away game without a goal – and the joint lowest tally in the top tier – leaves them with work to do with two more trips to come and just one home game before the end of the month.
The Clarets were unchanged from the side that started their mid-week defeat to Manchester United as they kicked off a run of three successive weekends in the capital.
But they had barely had time to find their bearings when they went behind to virtually West Ham’s first attack.
A cross from Pablo Fornals should have been dealt with but when the ball flicked off the head of Ben Mee to by-pass defensive side-kick James Tarkowski, Antonio was left with a straight-forward finish at the far post.
After three home games without a home win it was the perfect start for a Hammers’ side which was then content to absorb what response Burnley could muster and look to strike again on the break.
Had Angelo Ogbonna’s header from a Jarrod Bowen corner then doubled their lead seven minutes before the break it would have looked a long way back for a Clarets’ team which had scored twice in a Premier League only once since their opening fixture.
But while the margin was so slender Sean Dyche’s men were still in the game. Chris Wood was clearly off-side before he delivered the cross which West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell sliced into his own net but there were a couple of attempts before the break to give the Clarets’ some encouragement.
Wood had scored six goals in his previous six games against the Hammers and he skidded a low effort wide from 25 yards before Johann Berg Gudmundsson at least forced the returning Lukasz Fabianski to make save with another effort from just outside the box from Ashley Barnes’ lay-off.
There had not been enough of a goal threat, however, and Dyche sent on McNeil in place of Gudmundsson at the start of the second half in a bid to sharpen the cutting edge.
McNeil immediately made a difference with a couple of driving runs and balls into the box.
But the momentum wasn’t maintained as Declan Rice whipped a free-kick just over the bar at the other end and with almost half an hour to go Matej Vydra was given an extended chance to try and make a difference off the bench.
West Ham still looked the most likely scorers as Fornals had a volley charged down by Matt Lowton and the pacy Bowen fired into the side netting after being released by Rice’s ball over the top with the hosts’ best chance since going ahead.
And Dyche played his final trick with 20 minutes left as Jay Rodriguez – the match-winner here in July – replaced Wood.
It took an excellent defensive header from Craig Dawson to stop Rodriguez meeting a perfect Lowton cross and a McNeil delivery from the other flank then kissed the crossbar as the Clarets stepped up the pressure in search of a leveller.
Another Lowton cross then bounced just wide off the on-rushing Rodriguez as the Hammers were left hanging on, although with Burnley committed to all-out attack it needed a superb challenge from Mee to stop substitute Andriy Yarmolenko making the game safe for the Londoners.
That kept the Clarets’ hopes alive but despite pressing to the end, they couldn’t fashion the clear-cut chance they needed to end their away-day goal drought.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Gudmundsson (McNeil HT), Westwood, Brownhill, Brady; Wood (Rodriguez 72), Barnes (Vydra 63).
Substitutes: Norris, Cork, Stephens, Rodriguez, Bardsley, Long, Benson.
West Ham: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Bowen (Yarmalenko 82), Soucek, Rice, Fornals; Benrahama (Lanzini 68); Antonio.
Substitutes: Randolph, Ibsen, Noble, Diop, Fredericks, Johnson, Odubeko.
Booked: Soucek, Ogbonna
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Wed, Oct 27, 2021