West Brom fight back to hold Burnley in game of four headers
Brown Ideye was West Brom’s unlikely saviour as they fought back from two down to draw 2-2 at fellow strugglers Burnley.
The Baggies’ record signing almost left the club in the final hours of the winter transfer window on Monday but came off the bench at half-time at Turf Moor to head in the equaliser.
Burnley were two up inside 32 minutes through Ashley Barnes and Danny Ings but Chris Brunt pulled one back just before half-time for Albion.
It was a first Premier League goal of the season for Brunt, who lost the captain’s armband to deadline-day signing Darren Fletcher.
The point was enough for Burnley to climb back out of the relegation zone but they desperately needed all three with an extremely tough run of fixtures coming up.
Saido Berahino’s “naughty chair” was parked on the bench as the Baggies striker was dropped following an interview where he spoke of wanting to move on to bigger things, but he was called upon in the 18th minute after an injury to Victor Anichebe.
Burnley boss, Sean Dyche, meanwhile, named an unchanged starting line-up for a 10th successive Premier League match.
The club have come in for criticism from some supporters this week after failing to add to the squad during the transfer window, but holding on to Ings was a significant consolation.
Dyche substituted the striker at Sunderland last weekend because he felt constant speculation had affected the 22-year-old, but there was nothing sluggish about Ings as Burnley made a flying start.
After Ings fired over, the hosts thought they had scored when Kieran Trippier’s cross was touched back to Scott Arfield by Barnes, but Ben Foster reacted superbly to push the midfielder’s shot onto the underside of the crossbar.
However, West Brom, who had thrashed Burnley 4-0 in September, could not stem the tide and it was no more than Burnley deserved when Barnes headed in the opener in the 11th minute.
This time Dean Marney’s cross from the right was dummied by Ings, who then picked up Arfield’s header and hooked the ball across goal for his strike partner.
Berahino was unsurprisingly given a mixed reception by the travelling supporters when he made his entrance, and West Brom at last began to manage a few forays into the Burnley box. Joleon Lescott might have done better with a header from Fletcher’s free-kick.
In the 32nd minute, however, Burnley doubled their lead as Ings finished off a fine move with his eighth of the season.
Marney’s pass out to the right was dummied by Trippier which freed George Boyd, and his cross was perfect for Ings to head in off the post.
It all looked rosy for the hosts but they had lost two of their previous three games from 2-0 up and their Achilles heel came back to bite them again.
Burnley have conceded more headed goals than any other team in the Premier League and, with the first half into injury time, Brunt was allowed to head in Callum McManaman’s corner from five yards. The ball seemed to come more off shoulder than head but Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton was helpless as it bounced over him and into the net.
Both managers made changes for the second half. Burnley’s was forced as Michael Kightly replaced the injured Marney, while Tony Pulis sent on Ideye for Chris Baird, with Brunt dropping to left-back.
There was a half-hearted Burnley appeal for a penalty when Barnes tumbled under pressure from Craig Dawson trying to reach another excellent Trippier cross, but referee Mike Dean was unmoved.
With 67 minutes gone, West Brom drew level as Burnley were exposed at a corner once again.
This time Brunt’s delivery from the right found record signing Ideye all alone in the centre of the box and he headed in his third goal for the Baggies.
It was Burnley’s turn to threaten from a corner nine minutes later but Lescott was in the right place to clear Jason Shackell’s header off the line.
The final chance of the game went to Berahino but he could not quite reclaim his hero status as a combination of Heaton and Ben Mee on the line denied what appeared a certain goal.