No way through as Boro maintain unbeaten start at West Brom

Date published: Sunday 28th August 2016 3:21

Alvaro Negredo: Tangles with Gareth McAuley

West Brom and Middlesbrough created little of note as both sides settled for a point apiece as their Premier League encounter ended in a 0-0 draw at The Hawthorns.

In a game of few redeeming features it took Boro until 17 minutes from time to have their first shot on target with Albion equally toothless.

Baggies boss Tony Pulis wants five new players before Wednesday’s transfer deadline and the hosts’ failings were clear to see as they never broke down the resolute visitors.

Albion needed a performance after being dumped out of the EFL Cup on penalties by Northampton in midweek but never got going against the Premier League newboys, who now have a healthy return of five points from their first three games.

There was little excitement from the off but Antonio Barragan at least halted James McClean early on before the winger was thwarted by Brad Guzan after 11 minutes.

Darren Fletcher’s neat pass found the on-rushing McClean but Guzan smothered his six yard effort with the keeper relatively untroubled during a non-event of a first half.

Salomon Rondon headed two half chances well wide while Boro failed to create anything meaningful themselves with Alvaro Negredo isolated and anonymous.

Played at a pre-season pace neither side looked remotely like opening the scoring as West Brom’s need for more attacking threat was laid bare.

McClean was their brightest spark but £12million record buy Rondon was laboured and underlined why boss Pulis has been chasing new signings, including Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez.

In an attempt to break the monotony eight minutes before the break Brendan Galloway, making his Premier League debut for Albion after a loan move from Everton, forced Guzan into a low stop.

But it was a token effort which Gaston Ramirez matched when he swiped wildly wide within two minutes of the re-start.

The second half continued in the same uneventful, disappointing, vein as the first as the teams cancelled each other out to provide no excitement.

Craig Dawson’s header dropped a yard wide in a rare chance and Jonathan Leko replaced McClean after 65 minutes in the hope he would inject some pace and penetration to West Brom’s game which had failed to get out of first gear.

Middlesbrough had yet to register a shot on target but had looked more composed in possession despite failing to supply Valencia loanee Negredo with any decent service.

Leko lasted just five minutes before limping off injured to be replaced by Saido Berahino but Boro immediately threatened when Cristhian Stuani shot straight at Ben Foster with 17 minutes left.

The visitors finished the stronger, with Stewart Downing firing wide, but the Baggies almost got lucky with five minutes remaining when Ayala’s clattered off Guzan and bounced away.


Opta stats

Only Arsenal (27) and Man Utd (25) have kept more Premier League clean sheets than West Brom (23) since Tony Pulis took charge in Jan 2015.

West Brom have gone six Premier League games at home without a victory for the first time under Tony Pulis (D2 L4).

Middlesbrough have been involved in both of the PL games featuring the fewest shots on target this season (3 v Stoke City and 4 v West Brom).

Middlesbrough kept a clean sheet in a Premier League away game for the first time since October 2008 versus Wigan.

Under Tony Pulis, West Brom (8) have drawn more Premier League games 0-0 than any other team (10th January 2015 to present).

West Bromwich Albion have scored 55 goals in 59 Premier League matches under Tony Pulis (0.93 per game).

Jonathan Leko is the first Premier League player to be subbed on and then off again in the same game this season and the first since Joe Ledley vs Stoke in May 2016.

Daniel Ayala’s booking on 68 seconds is the quickest this season in the PL and the quickest since Gary Cahill (44 seconds) versus Sunderland in May.

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