West Brom 1-2 Burnley: Ashley Barnes stunner heaps more misery on hosts
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 31/03/18 7:38pm
Rock-bottom West Brom slumped to an eighth consecutive Premier League defeat as Burnley held on to win 2-1 at The Hawthorns.
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Ashley Barnes' brilliant acrobatic finish after 22 minutes sent them on their way to a third successive victory before Chris Wood doubled their lead with a header from close range (73).
Salomon Rondon reduced the arrears with a well-taken finish seven minutes before the end but the hosts could not complete the comeback and Alan Pardew's side remain 10 points adrift of safety with six games remaining.
West Brom: Foster (6), Nyom (6), Gibbs (5), Evans (6), Dawson (5), Hegazi (5), Yacob (5), Livermore (6), Brunt (6), Rodriguez (5), Rondon (7).
Subs: Phillips (6), Burke (6)
Burnley: Pope (6), Lowton (7), Ward (6), Tarkowski (7), Mee (8), Westwood (6), Cork (7), Lennon (8), Nkoudou (6), Barnes (8), Wood (7).
Subs: Vokes (5), Hendrick (5)
Man of the match: Ashley Barnes
Burnley go from strength to strength, however, with Sean Dyche's men just two points off sixth-placed Arsenal, and the sides face each other in the penultimate weekend of the season.
West Brom's eight-year stay in the Premier League looks increasingly like coming to an end, and they paid the price on Saturday after an opening half which lacked the sense of urgency required for a side fighting for their lives.
Burnley dominated possession, but scored from their first meaningful attempt on goal as the impressive Aaron Lennon stood up a cross from the right for Barnes to volley past Ben Foster.
It was the fourth consecutive Premier League game in which the forward scored - the first time he has achieved the feat - and West Brom failed to test Nick Pope until Rondon's header from Jake Livermore's cross was tipped around the post in first-half stoppage time.
West Brom were unchanged from the side that lost 2-1 at Bournemouth. Burnley made two changes to the side that won 3-0 at West Ham as Georges-Kevin N'Koudou and Chris Wood came in for Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Jeff Hendrick.
Pardew sought to inject greater endeavour and energy at the interval with Matty Phillips replacing Kieran Gibbs, and the switch had the desired effect as the substitute's cross was headed narrowly over by Jay Rodriguez 14 minutes after the restart.
But the necessary quality continued to desert the hosts, with Burnley's resolute defence absorbing their opponents' best efforts and the game appeared over as a contest when Wood latched onto Matt Lowton's cute pass to head beyond Foster after his initial shot was saved.
It was only after Rondon pounced on a loose ball from Jonny Evans' cross to fire past Pope with seven minutes remaining that Burnley showed any signs of weakness, with Chris Brunt unable to convert from Phillips' cross moments later as the visitors held on for victory.
Alan Pardew: "We were so tentative in what we did [in the first half]. It wasn't the team I saw in training this week. We didn't cope with the pressure from the fans and the media, but in the second half, we did much better.
"We need a result, and we did everything today but we couldn't get one. We've got another tough game here next week at home, and we're learning some players can deal with the situation.
"We've got to stand up to the opposition and ask them questions. We did that in the second half but the first 45 minutes we weren't good enough."
Sean Dyche: "We're really pleased. It's another big win. This is a strange place to come at the minute but I thought we handled the occasion well.
"I'm not sure if we can break into the top six [this season], but progress is being made. It's hard to make massive strides at once but we've made improvements, particularly away from home.
"You've got to be careful what you wish for, but I'm very proud of what the players are achieving."
Man of the match: Ashley Barnes
Barnes' beauty midway through the first half lit up a match that had been starved of quality.
The 28-year-old forward is brimming with confidence after notching in his fourth straight Premier League game, and his overall link-up play in particular with Lennon and Wood was a highlight of his performance.
He is the second Burnley player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances after Sam Vokes did so between May and August 2017.
England World Cup watch
Nick Pope and James Tarkowski returned from international duty with England to play with all the confidence and know-how of two players who have been on the scene for many years.
Tarkowski’s only mistake led to Rondon’s goal but, alongside Ben Mee, this was another impressive defensive display to enhance his chances of making Gareth Southgate’s final 23-man squad.
As always there were several Englishmen in Dyche’s side, with Aaron Lennon’s resurgence likely to come too late while West Brom’s Jake Livermore produced moments of quality during a midfield battle with Jack Cork.
The injury concerns surrounding Jack Wilshere could yet force Southgate to select a wildcard in the centre of the pitch, and while West Brom’s season now appears an exercise in futility, Livermore still has plenty to play for.
- Burnley have won six away games this season, one more than in their three previous Premier League campaigns combined (5).
- West Brom have lost eight consecutive Premier League games, their longest losing run in the competition. It's their longest losing run in the top-flight since a nine-game streak ending in September 1985.
- Alan Pardew has collected just 12 points from a possible 84 in his last 28 Premier League games as manager of both Crystal Palace and West Brom (W2 D6 L20).
- Chris Wood has found the back of the net in each of his last three Premier League games, scoring four in the process.
- Aaron Lennon has assisted a team-mate in back to back Premier League games having registered just one assist in his previous 72 in the competition.
- Salomón Rondón has scored three and assisted one more in four Premier League matches against Burnley.
West Brom are at home next weekend as they host Swansea on April 7 while Burnley travel to face Watford at Vicarage Road on the same day.