Fresh from their well-deserved victory over Chelsea last weekend, Burnley hosted West Bromwich Albion at a blustery Turf Moor in one of the oldest fixtures in the football calendar.
The Baggies started brightly, with James McClean breaking through the Clarets defence before firing into the legs of James Tarkowski.
Jack Cork tested the visitor’s back line with some intelligent passing through the centre of the park in the early exchanges as Burnley slowly but surely took control of possession, which the Baggies in their typical counter attacking style were allowing.
The physicality of the fixture was epitomised by the developing battle between Ahmed Hegazi and Sam Vokes, with the former changing shirts twice before half time due to a blood injury inadvertently afflicted by the Welshman.
The game came to life around the 25 minute mark as the home side were unlucky not to score during a goalmouth scramble which Albion did well to come away from unscathed.
Five minutes later a deft layoff from Vokes put Gudmundsson through, who should have done better. The Icelandic international almost did so with his head moments later from a smart left flank cross, which Ben Foster did well to hold low to his left.
Vokes should have scored in the 37th minute; he did well to lose his marker but will be disappointed in himself for not connecting with the cross from the left hand side where the Clarets had clearly sensed a weakness in the Baggies defence and continued to test it.
The chances the Baggies did have were limited to set pieces (particularly and perhaps predictably corners), with Sam Field coming closest with an improvised reverse header flying over the crossbar. The first half was summed up by Ben Mee heading wide from Robbie Brady’s corner just before the break when it looked easier to score.
West Brom started the second half with the same level of threat as they did the first 45 minutes. Jake Livermore had a shot deflect into the net only to be ruled offside by the linesman. Shortly after, Matt Philips broke down the right and was brought down by Steven Ward. Chris Brunt should have made more of the resulting free kick.
The increased tempo of the fixture was a welcome sight as an end to end pattern emerged and the noise in the stadium reacted accordingly. Hal Robson-Kanu took the place of McClean just past the hour as Pulis sensed he could return to the Midlands with all three points.
A dangerous free kick on the edge of the Baggies box came to nothing for the hosts as the early promise and tempo of the half slowly diminished. Up step substitute Robson-Kanu; a good flick on from Philips put him through, the Welshman showed great strength with a tenacious run through the middle and the finish left Heaton with no chance. 71 minutes, 1-0 to the visitors.
Walters and Barnes were introduced by Dyche on 78 minutes who almost made an immediate impact; Walters’ flick on eventually breaking to Barnes who got a shot away, albeit a tame one. Goalscorer Robson-Kanu quickly turned from hero to villain as he lead with his elbow into the face of Matthew Lowton, who was rightly given his marching orders in the 83rd minute regardless of whether he meant to connect with the Burnley defender or not.
Rondon was brought on to provide an outlet for the defence, replacing youngster Sam Field. The 10 men in blue and white desperately tried to hold on to their lead as the game entered its final moments. Burnley continued to flood the Albion box, but Barnes relieved the pressure with an unnecessary shove on Foster and earned a yellow card for his efforts.
In the dying embers of the game Vokes had the chance to join his countryman on the scoresheet; with the goal at his mercy he headed well over, much to the relief of the travelling fans.
Burnley, particularly Vokes, will feel that they should have done better today; with more composure in front of goal it could have been a comfortable victory for the hosts. A job well done for the men from the Black Country who continue their perfect start to the season.
Man of the Match: Ahmed Hegazi – difficult choice this week but the Egyptian is already proving to be a shrewd buy for the Baggies. Strong in the air, committed in the tackle and received a few stitches today for his second clean sheet in as many games.
Written by George Bates.