Sam Allardyce was heartened by West Brom’s display after Semi Ajayi’s red card but the veteran manager lamented the missed opportunities in a goalless Premier League draw at Burnley that has done little for their survival prospects.
Ajayi was given his marching orders in the first half as his handball denied Matej Vydra from going clean through on goal, but Burnley were unable to capitalise on the man advantage as their opponents rallied after the interval.
Mbaye Diagne clattered the top of the crossbar from close range, while Matheus Pereira’s effort was blocked on the line by Burnley defender James Tarkowski on a blustery afternoon at Turf Moor.
This stalemate is West Brom’s second in a row after Manchester United battled back to grab a 1-1 draw last weekend, and while Allardyce was encouraged by how his side fared, he acknowledged they need to start winning matches as they sit 11 points adrift of Premier League safety.
“The performance deserved a win,” Allardyce said. “We didn’t do anything other than try to win this game even when we went down to 10 men, which I’m so pleased about.
“Everybody knew how important the three points would have been so even with 10 men, the amount of work-rate and opportunities we took to attack the 11 men of Burnley were absolutely fantastic.
“Of course, creating the two best chances of the entire game in the second half, we’re all very disappointed we didn’t convert at least one of those. It would have brought us a very precious three points.
“Things are getting better, the defending’s getting better, attacking and creating is getting better, but the sad thing is we’re sat with two points from the last two games which actually should have been six.
“We’ve still a bit to go to try to change these performances into victories and another game goes by which means we get a little bit more desperate about trying to get three points in the next game.”
Referee Mike Dean, officiating his first game since requesting to miss last weekend’s fixtures after he and his family received death threats on social media, was kept busy on his return.
He was initially unmoved on the half-hour when Vydra’s first touch on the halfway line brushed the right arm of last man Ajayi, denying the Burnley striker the chance to rush through on goal.
However, a check with the video assistant referee saw Dean brandish a straight red card for the defender.
“In the rules, everybody’s going to say it’s a deliberate handball and it stops a goal-scoring opportunity,” Allardyce added.
“I can’t say from 50 or 60 metres away, ‘he’s stopping a goal-scoring opportunity’ but everybody will say it’s right. We’re just living with it now, we’re living with the rule changes.
“If that’s the way the rules are then fine, we’ll have to accept that. But I have to say it didn’t affect us and you could say in the second half we actually got better with 10 men.”
Kyle Bartley appeared to handle in the area after half-time but Dean waved away Burnley protests although Clarets boss Sean Dyche believes the West Brom captain may have been spared by the ball glancing his thigh.
“From a distance it looks like a penalty but I’ve only seen it once quickly,” Dyche said. “It might just glance off his thigh and if it does then he can’t move his arm out the way.”
Dyche acknowledged his side were well below-par but accepted the bustling schedule means the occasional off day is inevitable.
“I’m pleased with the outcome because I thought with the performance, we were absolutely miles off where we can be,” he added.
“I’ve asked a lot of these players and continue to have to ask a lot of them, so I’ve got to be careful what I ask of them. But we were nowhere near our performance level.”