No more will I say I enjoy my visits to the Hawthorns. With just over a quarter of an hour gone last night I didn’t want to be there, and after that it just got worse as two more goals went in leaving us with a second successive 4-0 away defeat against West Bromwich Albion.
Needless to say there had been some discussion about the last game we played there as we made our way down through the pouring rain, road works and accidents, but the consensus was that we did have something of a scratch team out back in 2014 and that wouldn’t be the case this time.
Such was the journey down that we thought, for a time, that we might miss out on our planned stop, but we got there for some good food and a pint before driving the last five or six miles without any delays to our parking place close to the M5.
The day seemed to be improving. Despite the pouring rain virtually all the way down, it had thankfully decided to hold off while we walked up to the ground. What we were about to witness was bad enough sat there in dry clothes.
We made once change from the team that had beaten Crystal Palace in the last game. Fit again Stephen Ward came back in for Jon Flanagan, who had deputised, with Patrick Bamford the player to drop off the bench.
As a team that is going to be towards the bottom end of the table, you shouldn’t target certain games for points; the first two home games of the season against Swansea and Liverpool are testament to that, but you couldn’t help thinking, given the opposition we’ve faced so far on our travels, that this one might represent one of our best chances of picking up some points away from home.
If there was any hope of that, they were hit within four minutes and then completely wiped out a further twelve minutes into the game as West Brom boing boinged their way into a 2-0 lead.
It was a ridiculous start and self inflicted. The first came via a ball in from the right which Dean Marney intercepted only to play it into the path of Matt Phillips. Maybe Ben Mee could have done more but Phillips was given the space to turn and hammer the ball high into the net.
It was almost 2-0 within a minute but then we got into the game and started to dictate play. We were passing the ball nicely but much if it was kept at arm’s length by West Brom other than one opportunity when Sam Vokes headed down for Jeff Hendrick who couldn’t quite get his shot on target.
Still, even though a goal down, it was looking quite positive, but then from that it was so very quickly all over as West Brom ended another Burnley attack, got the ball forward, left us totally exposed and doubled their advantage.
Salomon Rondon, a player we didn’t get to grips with all night, got the better of Michael Keane to send Morrison free. Quite what Mee was doing I’m not so sure but side on he all but invited Morrison to shoot and he did just hitting a shot into the bottom corner.
I’m told they’d only had one touch of the ball in our box at that time. So what, I’m not one for such stats and, as always, there is only one that counts and that’s the number of goals. We were 2-0 down early in the game and potentially heading for a pasting.
The period of play between those two goals, when we had so much of the ball, proved to be our best spell and by the time the game ended I’m sure most Burnley fans were relieved that it was only four.
There was, thankfully, just one more goal in the first half but if you thought the first two were bad then this was even worse. West Brom had us sussed. They let us have the ball then, when they regained possession, broke quickly and picked us off.
Tom Heaton had almost joined in with a shocking clearance from which they should have made it 3-0 but then a move down the left hand side did get them that third goal. Phillips crossed from the left where an unmarked Darren Fletcher turned the ball home from close range. Fletcher had moved across our penalty box from the left hand side. If his move from left to right was detected, and I’m not sure it was, no one did anything about it. That’s as bad a goal as we’ve conceded all season.
There was much shaking of heads in the away end during the half time interval. I suggested we’d likely bring on a striker for Steven Defour; not as though I thought that was the correct move but the one I thought would happen. It did, Ashley Barnes came on.
To be honest, nothing much changed. We had the ball, we went forward and they tried to catch us on the counter. We did create slightly more. Barnes fired high and wide and then only a good block prevented Matt Lowton from getting in a shot.
But any likely fourth goal you sensed would not go our way and that’s exactly what happened. This time left back Allan Nyom pulled the ball back for Rondon to score via a touch off Ward.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Venezuelan striker Rondon was the man of this match. The home fans knew it although I have to say the constant singing of Da Doo Rondon, Da Doo Rondon did get a but tiresome.
I’m not sure they had another shot at our goal but we did at theirs. We finally got our first two efforts on target, both from Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
In truth it was a relief when it all came to an end. For once homer referee Mike Jones couldn’t be blamed; I just wish he’d blown that final whistle considerably earlier than he did.
It had rained during the game but I’d like to thank the West Midlands weather for remaining dry while we walked back to the car. I kept a promise to do a live interview for Australian radio who seemed to want to push me into believing a change of manager was needed. And then the journey home that was mainly in heavy rain.
Plusses from the night – remaining dry and good food. Nothing from inside the Hawthorns I’m afraid although things can get worse there as I know only too well. “That’s twice I’ve been and we’ve conceded four both times,” one fan said to me as we left. I told him about the day in 1967 when we conceded eight.
The teams were;
West Brom: Ben Foster, Craig Dawson, Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans, Allan Nyom, Darren Fletcher, Claudio Yacob, Matt Phillips (James McClean 75), James Morrison (Craig Gardner 83), Chris Brunt, Salomon Rondon (Hal Robson-Kanu 79). Subs not used: Alex Palmer, Jonathan Leko, Brendan Galloway, Jonas Olsson.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Johann Berg Gudmundsson (George Boyd 79), Jeff Hendrick, Dean Marney, Steven Defour (Ashley Barnes ht), Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes (Andre Gray 70). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, James Tarkowski, Michael Kightly.
Referee: Mike Jones (Chester).
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