By David Awopetu
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.
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.
In a final 20-minute flurry, Ainsley Maitland-Niles blazed over, January signing Mbaye Diagne clipped the bar and Matheus Pereira swiped at thin air with the goal at his mercy before seeing a follow-up shot cleared off the line by James Tarkowski.
As a result, the 19th-placed Baggies missed the chance to substantially reduce the gap between themselves and safety, which now stands at 11 points, while Burnley remain 15th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.