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Match Reports

Burnley 2 West Bromwich Albion 2

6 May 2017

Burnley 2 West Bromwich Albion 2

Sam Vokes struck twice as the Clarets fought back to claim the point that makes it almost certain they will be playing Premier League football again next season.

Vokes made it 10 goals for the season as he headed the late equaliser which put Sean Dyche’s heroes on the magical 40-point mark all but out of reach of Hull City in the scramble for safety.

And even though Swansea beat Everton later in the day, only an improbable avalanche of goals from Hull in the final two games can deny Burnley their place among the elite for another season as they moved back up to 14th-place in the table.

Vokes put the Clarets in front just after the break but in a dramatic second half West Bromwich Albion refused to accept their fate and put their terrible run behind them with goal from Salomon Rondon and birthday boy Craig Dawson to lead 2-1.

Sam Vokes puts the Clarets 1-0 up

But Burnley never know when they are beaten at Turf Moor and in another storming finish Vokes headed the equaliser five minutes from time to make it all but job done for the courageous Clarets. 

With injury ending Michael Keane’s ever-present record and forcing the England international onto the sidelines alongside long-time defensive partner Ben Mee, Dyche was unable to stick with the side that secured a first away win of the season a week previously to put safety within touching distance.

The one change meant a rare call-up for Kevin Long, as the Irishman started his first Premier League game and made his first league appearance for the Clarets since sustaining a long-term knee injury as a substitute at Newcastle United on New Year’s Day, 2015.

Long forged a new pairing with James Tarkowski and the partnership picked up where the previous ones had left off as they kept the shackles on a West Brom side that had gone five games without a goal.

Big striker Rondon had demonstrated in the Baggies’ 4-0 win at the Hawthorns in November the kind of threat he could carry.

But Long and Tarkowski stuck to tight to the Venezuelan international throughout a first half which saw the visitors denied a sight of Tom Heaton’s goal.

The Clarets didn’t find it easy to make headway themselves but gradually asserted themselves in the opening 45 minutes to end the first half on top.

It took 20 minutes for either side to deliver an effort on target but when it did come, West Brom keeper Ben Foster had to be alert to keep out an effort from Sam Vokes.

The Clarets’ striker had made an excellent run across the near post to steer a deflected effort goalwards following a cross from George Boyd, whose switch to the left flank and link-up with Stephen Ward brought Burnley some joy.

Kevin Long made a successful return to Premier League action after a two-and-a-half year wait

Boyd then sliced a half-volley wide following an excellent cross from Matt Lowton before Scott Arfield looked poised to break the deadlock.

Vokes and Ashley Barnes combined to work the ball into Arfield’s path but as he shot, James McClean’s superb covering block saved his side to keep the scores level at the break.

The momentum was with Burnley, though, and three minutes into the second half they went close again, this time Arfield creating the chance with a corner which the impressive Tarkowski met with a thumping header which flew just over the bar.

Boyd then saw a shot charged down by Gareth McAuley as the Clarets neatly worked another opening and 11 minutes into the second half Burnley went 1-0 up with the goal that looked as though it might guarantee Premier League safety with two matches to go.

Craig Dawson headed West Bromwich Albion in front with 12 minutes to go

Arfield and Lowton created the opening for Barnes to burst into the box. And although the striker went down under a challenge from Jake Livermore which the assistant referee flagged as a foul, Barnes picked himself up to deliver a low cross which Vokes coolly tucked away at the near post to claim his ninth goal of the season.

The Clarets’ destiny was entirely in their own hands at that point, but with nothing to lose the visitors stirred themselves into life.

Dawson sent a deflected header against the crossbar from a corner and then with 66 minutes gone West Brom finally ended their goal drought to make it 1-1.

Dangerman McClean created the chance with a low cross from the left which was deflected towards Rondon, who was able to turn and bury a shot across Heaton and into the corner of the net.

A first goal since mid-March understandably lifted the Baggies, who suddenly went from stopping the rot after four straight defeats to believing they could dig out a first win in six games.

Vokes scores the goal that should secure Burnley's Premier League status

And with 13 minutes to go their threat from set-pieces paid off when Dawson - celebrating his 27th-birthday - threw himself at a Chris Brunt delivery from a corner to head home his fourth goal of the season and make it 2-1.

Dyche responded by sending on Andre Gray as the first of three late substitutions to try and claw back some reward.

Gray had an early half-chance but sent his first-time shot wide moments after coming on.

But it was Robbie Brady, also summoned off the bench, who created the equaliser with a free-kick – after Gray had been fouled by Gareth McAuley - which Vokes reached first to glance over the stranded Foster with a header which took him into double figures for the season and means that only a mathematical miracle can deny the Clarets a place in the top flight again next season.

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Long, Tarkowski, Ward, Boyd (Brady 84), Hendrick, Westwood, Arfield (Gudmundsson 84), Vokes, Barnes (Gray 79). Substitutes: Pope, Darikwa, Flanagan, Defour.
Booked: Barnes

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, Evans (Nyom 53), McAuley, Wilson (Yacob 86), Fletcher, Field (Morrison 55), Livermore, Brunt, McClean, Rondon. Substitutes: Myhill, Yacob, Chadli, Leko, Wilson.
Booked: Wilson, McAuley, Nyom

Referee: Mike Jones

Charlie Proctor led out the team with captain Tom Heaton as the Clarets joined forces with East Lancashire's other professional clubs to support his family's efforts to raise funds for treatment for the four-year-old.

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