Sam Vokes' confidence boost in Burnley draw with West Brom
Burnley edged to the magic 40-point mark with a hard-fought 2-2 draw at home to West Brom on Saturday, a result that does not quite secure survival but means only an extraordinary set of results would see the club relegated from the Premier League.
Sam Vokes scored the first and last goal of the game as the Clarets took the lead after the interval following a poor first half, with a draw a fair result between two evenly matched sides.
A point was always going to be crucial and that Sean Dyche's side battled back to claim one was a sign of their character.
Vokes has not been in great form of late so a brace will do his confidence the world of good, while an under-strength defence coped reasonably well with the injury-enforced absences of Michael Keane and Ben Mee.
Burnley continue to be more streetwise and competitive than in their two previous Premier League seasons, which each ended in relegation.
Having taken the lead, the Clarets did not look like holding on to their advantage. The Baggies' fightback was somewhat inevitable as Burnley sat deep and invited to much pressure on their goal.
Both goals scored by the visitors really should have been prevented, particularly the second, which was a very soft goal from a corner.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Sean Dyche again left creative talents Robbie Brady, Steven Defour, Johann Gudmundsson and Andre Gray on the bench as he mostly stuck with the same team that won at Crystal Palace last weekend.
For a time his loyalty was rewarded, but when the Clarets ran out of steam in the second half he was too slow to make changes from the bench. When substitutions finally arrived they made a difference and helped Burnley to win a vital point, but it could have been three had Dyche been more proactive. This has been a regular complaint of the manager all season.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Tom Heaton, 6 -- Perhaps should have come for the corner that West Brom scored their second goal from but he rarely claims crosses so the defence should have dealt with the threat.
DF Matt Lowton, 7 -- Caught out of position for the West Brom equaliser but mostly solid and made some good interceptions.
DF Kevin Long, 7 -- Making his long-awaited Premier League debut for the club, Long was unfortunate when his clearance fell straight to Salomon Rondon for WBA's first goal, but he acquitted himself well considering his lack of minutes this season.
DF James Tarkowski, 8 -- Burnley's best player lit up a terrible first half with a bustling forward run and he also went close with a header, but his distribution was not as good as usual.
DF Stephen Ward, 7 -- Solid, reliable and consistent as ever from the Ireland left-back, who perhaps deserves more recognition for what has been an excellent season.
MF George Boyd, 6 -- Busy in the first half but his final ball lacked quality and his influence faded after the break.
MF Ashley Westwood, 7 -- Very tidy in midfield as he continues to impress filling in for the banned Joey Barton.
MF Jeff Hendrick, 6 -- Did not provide the forward drive that the team needs from him if he is to partner the more defensive-minded Westwood.
MF Scott Arfield, 6 -- Hesitated when presented with a fine chance, allowing James McClean to make a superb block. A performance of nearly moments from the Scot.
FW Sam Vokes, 8 -- A pair of decent finishes took the striker to 10 goals in all competitions this season, a good return in his first full campaign in the Premier League.
FW Ashley Barnes, 7 -- Probably should have had a penalty in the build up to Burnley's opener but did well to pick out Vokes regardless, but lost Craig Dawson for WBA's second goal.
FW Andre Gray, N/R -- Provided a spark in attack that had been lacking, although he never looked like scoring himself.
MF Johann Gudmundsson, N/R -- Showed off his willingness to be direct with a shot on target moments after his introduction.
MF Robbie Brady, N/R -- Created the equaliser for Vokes with a vicious cross that Ben Foster totally misjudged. Arguably should have been given more time to make an impact from the bench.