Post by Football News on Mar 31, 2018 19:37:21 GMT
West Brom 1-2 Burnley
With 72 days to go until the World Cup, Gareth Southgate can add another name to the roll-call of Burnley players vying for a seat on the plane to Russia. Before Chris Wood sealed an unwanted club-record eighth successive Premier League defeat for West Bromwich Albion, his strike-partner, Ashley Barnes, scored a spectacular acrobatic overhead-kick – his fourth goal in as many games – to keep the Somerset-born striker, capped by Austria at Under-20 level but eligible for England, dreaming for club and country.
At this rate, Burnley are on course for a seventh-place finish and securing an unlikely spot in the Europa League, should one of Chelsea, Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur lift the FA Cup. “We’re all going on a European tour,” echoed deliriously from the away end as a sparse Hawthorns emptied before the final whistle. This latest damning defeat condemned them to a ninth straight defeat in all competitions for the first time since 1996.
Salomón Rondón struck late on to give them the smallest glimmer of hope but they remain marooned at the foot of the table, 10 points from safety with just six games to play. Things are looking rosy for Sean Dyche’s side, though. James Tarkowski, Jack Cork and Nick Pope have been included in squads by Southgate in recent months and, with seemingly one place in attack still up for grabs, there may be room for one more yet.
“I think he continues to adapt to the challenge and his game improves season-on-season with us,” Dyche said of Barnes, after his 100th win as Burnley manager. “With football, everyone wants it yesterday but it’s not that easy. Year-on-year, he keeps developing, learning and improving, and he’s another one that keeps doing that with us.”
Pardew insisted the international break refreshed his players but his side’s first-half display was abject, and, even before Barnes’ wondrous strike, the home crowd was painfully flat. When Rondón passed the ball straight out of play, Pardew was among those who could do little but grimace. A penny for the thoughts of the chief executive, Mark Jenkins, present here in the directors’ box, who this week expressed his shock at the state of the club’s finances, given they will need to lean on an overdraft for the first time in 10 years. The reaffirming thing is that the club are at least readying themselves for the inevitable event of relegation. Lifeless until just before the interval, when Rondón forced Pope into a low left-handed save and Jay Rodriguez mustered an effort at goal, Pardew sought a change of personnel, introducing Matt Phillips.
Very little changed for West Brom until Rondón’s strike on 83 minutes, when Burnley were caught daydreaming in defence. The striker drilled home and West Brom suddenly discovered a sense of urgency as the game came to a climax with Brunt driving wide from Phillips’s cross but it was simply too little too late.
“That team was not not trying,”said Pardew, who also confirmed the injured Gareth Barry had not breached any curfews after being pictured at a Birmingham nightclub on Friday night. “They were just nervous and under massive pressure. I sympathise with them a little bit but part of me is going: ‘You have got to be stronger than that.’ The only thing I would say for our fans, really, is that I hope they understand that a little bit.”