Al­bion slide to­wards trap­door af­ter eighth con­sec­u­tive de­feat

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By Jon Cul­ley at the Hawthorns

Man­ager Alan Pardew ad­mit­ted he was left scratch­ing his head as a dis­mal West Brom per­for­mance that lacked craft or qual­ity con­demned them to a record eighth con­sec­u­tive Pre­mier League de­feat.

Goals from Ash­ley Barnes and Chris Wood, one in each half, were an ac­cu­rate mea­sure of Burn­ley’s su­pe­ri­or­ity, al­though a late score from Salomon Ron­don cut the mar­gin to a sin­gle goal.

The gap to safety re­mains, as be­fore, 10 points but, with only six matches left, it seems cer­tain that they will be­gin next sea­son in the Cham­pi­onship.

It will spell the end of an eight-year run in the top divi­sion.

Pardew has spo­ken about wish­ing to be the man­ager charged with taking them back again but, in truth, it would be a sur­prise were he to sur­vive in his post be­yond this sea­son.

He ad­mit­ted he was find­ing it hard to give the players the means to cope with the pres­sure that has been building on them.

“Some­times you can sense in the team that they are suf­fer­ing from that and we def­i­nitely sensed that in the first half,” he said.

“Any per­son who is a foot­ball per­son would have been able to see that it was not that the team were not try­ing, but they were ner­vous and un­der mas­sive pres­sure. I had sym­pa­thy for them but also I wanted them to be stronger than that. Pres­sure does strange things to you.

“We were bet­ter in the sec­ond half but we stood off Burn­ley in the first half and did not en­gage them.

“To sit off as we did in front of our own fans is not how my teams are recog­nised. I was stand­ing on the touch­line scratch­ing my head.”

By con­trast, Burn­ley man­ager Sean Dy­che is hav­ing no dif­fi­culty mo­ti­vat­ing his team, whose first win here since 1969 puts them within strik­ing dis­tance of the top six and po­ten­tially a place in Europe, al­though he is con­fi­dent that they will re­main grounded de­spite their ex­tra­or­di­nary sea­son.

“The lads are en­joy­ing what they are do­ing but they know the re­al­ity of the Pre­mier League and how tough it is, they know we are not the real deal,” Dy­che said.

“They know we are a work in progress and though the fans may be singing about Europe, our fo­cus is al­ways just on the next game. We know if we keep per­form­ing the rest will take care of it­self.”

Burn­ley were at their most im­pres­sive in the first half. Al­though goal­keeper Nick Pope had to deal with a cou­ple of head­ers from Ron­don early and late, the 45 min­utes were dom­i­nated by the vis­i­tors, who went ahead in the 22nd minute as Barnes scored for the fourth con­sec­u­tive game, hook­ing home an air­borne vol­ley from an Aaron Len­non cross.

Dy­che said of his striker: “I think he con­tin­ues to adapt to the chal­lenge. His game has im­proved sea­son on sea­son with us and con­tin­ues to do so.”

There was more spark from Al­bion in the sec­ond half, and a slight cor­rec­tion to the im­bal­ance of pos­ses­sion, al­though noth­ing tan­gi­ble re­sulted from it, and when Burn­ley scored their sec­ond 17 min­utes from time, a pro­ces­sion of West Brom fans to­wards the ex­its be­gan.

The goal came af­ter a long clear­ance by Pope found its way to full-back Matt Low­ton on the right. He threaded a neat pass in­side to Wood, whose own nim­ble foot­work en­abled him to side­step a slid­ing chal­lenge from Jonny Evans and take a shot.

Foster man­aged to save it with his chest but Wood watched it all the way and was quick­est to re­act as the ball looped up, nod­ding it past the for­mer Eng­land goal­keeper to set up Burn­ley for a third con­sec­u­tive win.

Ron­don stabbed home a late re­ply for the home side fol­low­ing a mis­take by James Tarkowski, of­fer­ing a glim­mer of hope to the fans who had stayed behind, but there was no deny­ing Burn­ley, who cel­e­brated with their 2,700 sup­po­et­ers at the final whis­tle.

Se­rial fin­isher: Ash­ley Barnes, of Burn­ley, scored for a fourth con­sec­u­tive match

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