West Brom rue missed chances despite Ajayi red card in draw with Burnley
Baggies defender was sent off in the first half at Turf Moor
Referee Mike Dean shows a red card to West Bromwich Albion’s Semi Ajayi during the Premier League match against Burnley at Turf Moor. Photo: Gareth Copley/PA Wire
Burnley 0 West Bromwich Albion 0
West Brom overcame Semi Ajayi’s first-half red card but spurned several gilt-edged chances in a goalless Premier League draw against Burnley as the Baggies missed the chance to boost their survival prospects at a blustery Turf Moor.
Mike Dean, refereeing his first match since asking for a break after receiving death threats on social media, gave Ajayi his marching orders as the defender’s handball denied Matej Vydra from going clean through.
That left the relegation-threatened Baggies to play with 10 men for the remaining hour but they had the clearer chances after the interval, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mbaye Diagne and Matheus Pereira all going close.
Diagne clattered the top of the crossbar from close range while Pereira’s effort was blocked on the line by James Tarkowski, with West Brom settling for a draw that leaves them 11 points adrift of Premier League safety.
Burnley, who welcomed back captain Ben Mee following concussion protocols, were unable to break down opponents who have by far the worst defensive top-flight record this season and only managed one shot on target.
They had strong claims for a penalty when Kyle Bartley appeared to handle in the area but Dean waved away Burnley’s pleas on an afternoon when the difficult conditions made life tough for both sides.
It was the away side who showed more endeavour early on, with Maitland-Niles and Pereira lively presences.
Darnell Furlong curled wide having cut on to his left foot, as did Pereira, who moments later forced Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope into a low save after Maitland-Niles had dispossessed Ashley Westwood in a dangerous position.
Just as it seemed West Brom were starting to find some fluency, they were reduced to 10 men on the half-hour, with Dean’s hopes of an inconspicuous outing dashed as Ajayi was dismissed for denying a clear goal-scoring chance.
That was Dean’s view after a check with the video assistant referee, having initially been unmoved by the home side’s loud appeals for handball when Conor Gallagher’s loose back-pass was intercepted by Vydra, whose first touch on halfway brushed the right arm of Ajayi and prevented the striker from going clean through on goal.
Sam Allardyce withdrew Matt Phillips and sent on Dara O’Shea in an attempt to shore up his backline, which was able to keep Burnley at bay for the remainder of half, but there was more drama to follow shortly after the interval.
O’Shea’s header back to Bartley in West Brom’s area seemed to come off the visiting captain’s outstretched right arm, but Dean once again waved away Burnley protests and this time saw no need to consult with technology.
Okay Yokuslu nearly unknowingly deflected Westwood’s cross into his own goal, while — at the other end — the dangerous Pereira let fly from the edge of the area, narrowly missing Pope’s right-hand post.
By this point West Brom had adjusted to being a man down and twice came close to breaking the deadlock, with Maitland-Niles first blazing over after cutting on to his right foot and finding some space in the area.
Diagne then probably had the game’s best chance as he surged forward on the inside right, went past last man Tarkowski but clattered the top of the crossbar with his finish from six yards out.
Burnley were caught out once again as Maitland-Niles worked his way into the box but his square pass was behind Pereira, who collected the ball and unleashed a shot, only for Tarkowski to get his body in the way on the line.