English Premier League

Burnley 0 – 0 West Brom

Ten-man West Brom kept their first clean sheet under new manager Sam Allardyce but their goalless draw with Burnley at Turf Moor did little to help their relegation fight.

The Baggies wasted a series of huge chances in the second half as their best all-round performance since Allardyce took charge 11 Premier League games ago failed to gain its full reward.

Matheus Pereira was the chief culprit. The Brazilian somehow missed his kick in the middle of the six-yard line with only Nick Pope to beat after being set up by Mbaye Diagne.

In the melee that followed, Pereira failed to turn home an Ainsley Maitland-Niles cross as James Tarkowski eventually cleared.

Pereira also went close in the opening period with a low shot that was heading for the bottom corner until Pope made the save.

Diagne was not blameless either, blasting against the bar from six yards after cutting inside Tarkowski.

Darnell Furlong and Maitland-Niles also threatened the Burnley goal but it just heightened the frustrations of a West Brom side who played the final hour a man down after Semi Ajayi was sent off for deliberate handball.

Sean Dyche’s Burnley were uninspiring going forward. Indeed, the hosts were limited to just one shot on target as West Brom comfortably kept their first clean sheet in 15 matches.

But second-bottom West Brom remain in massive trouble, 11 points behind fourth-bottom Newcastle, while the point nudges an uninspiring Burnley outfit a bit closer to safety despite remaining in 15th spot.

Referee Mike Dean did not take charge of a Premier League game last weekend in order to remove him from the spotlight after his recent decisions to dismiss Southampton’s Jan Bednarek and West Ham’s Tomas Soucek – both following the intervention of VAR – were overturned.

The official must have had a sense of dread as Michael Oliver told him to take another look at Ajeyi’s misdemeanour.

In truth, this decision was straightforward and Dean had no hesitation in brandishing his 111th Premier League red card. The 52-year-old has shown 44 more than any other referee in the competition’s history.

As he explained to Furlong and Maitland-Niles as they headed for the dressing rooms at half-time, once it was determined Ajeyi’s hand moved towards the ball, it had to be a red card even though Matej Vydra had a long way to run if he was to score.

Under the circumstances though, it was a surprise Dean was not ushered back to the screen at the start of the second half when Albion skipper Kyle Bartley controlled a header by Conor Townsend with an outstretched arm inside his own box.

West Brom’s struggles have continued throughout Allardyce’s time in charge, with their defending a major issue.

A routine early cross from Burnley defender Matt Lowton which picked out Jay Rodriguez unmarked between Ajeyi and Bartley did not hint at training ground work transferring onto game day.

Yet, as it turned, out Burnley, lacking Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood, were largely lifeless. Josh Brownhill had a couple of efforts at goal but the Rodriguez effort was the best they had.

Burnley did not need to win though. Their task now is to keep others – including West Brom – at bay.

And just as against Manchester United last week, Allardyce will wonder how his team failed to secure maximum points.

How the Pereira tap-in failed to end up in the net was beyond comprehension, the only plausible explanation, other than a bobble, was momentary panic as he knew the enormity of the opportunity.

Allardyce can take solace from his team looking more like the side he wants them to be – and going two games unbeaten for only the second time this season. But West Brom need points – and for the second game running, they didn’t get enough.


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