Steve Bruce and Sean Dyche both questioned the appointment of referee Tim Robinson as the official took charge of a Premier League game for the first time in Burnley’s 1-0 win over Newcastle at Turf Moor.
Bruce was unhappy when Robinson awarded a corner instead of a foul on Federico Fernandez 13 minutes into the second half, the official initially giving a goal-kick only to change his mind on the advice of his assistant.
Ashley Westwood took the corner and his delivery found Chris Wood, who headed home his seventh Premier League goal of the season to end Burnley’s run of three straight defeats.
“Both teams huffed and puffed all day and we were hoping it’s not going to rest on a refereeing decision and unfortunately, that’s what’s happened,” Bruce told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“There were so many decisions that were strange and the big decision that wins or loses the game, he has got wrong.”
Robinson also took charge of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup defeat by Leicester earlier this season, when Bruce was highly critical of his decision to only book Hamza Choudhury for a foul on Matt Ritchie, describing it as a “horror” tackle.
The Scotland international suffered an ankle injury as a result and has not featured for the club since.
“The same referee missed a challenge that has had Matt Richie not kicking a ball all season,” added Bruce. “So I understand how difficult it is but, for me, Burnley versus Newcastle on a day like today, is it really the right occasion for him to make his debut? I’m sorry but it didn’t look quite right from the first whistle.”
Burnley boss Dyche also questioned why Robinson was handed this fixture, rather than a match involving some of the division’s bigger sides.
“A few of us have fed back to the powers that be that it seems that teams like us do get these first-time referees and then you go, ‘Well, why don’t you put them in the big games?’ because if they’ve got to learn, they’ve got to learn – because these are big games for us,” said Dyche.
“These can decide up and down in a division so I think there’s just a little bit less tolerance, not because of the referee you understand, but if you are going to blood these people into the highest division, which needs to happen, why is it only our games? Why is it not the big games? If they’re deemed good enough for the Premier League then put them in the big games.”
Burnley have kept clean sheets in all five of their Premier League home wins this season and rarely looked like conceding against a Newcastle side without several creative players, including top scorer Jonjo Shelvey and winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
The win lifts Burnley up to 12th, six points clear of the relegation zone and one point and one place behind opponents Newcastle, who suffered their first defeat in four matches.
Burnley end losing run
Burnley went into the game on the back of six defeats in eight and having lost their past three league games by an aggregate score of 1-11, leaving them within three points of the bottom three.
But in this remarkably tight Premier League a few wins can make a huge difference and Saturday’s victory moves the Clarets to within three points of the top six.
Dyche was able to recall Ashley Barnes after missing the last two games with a groin problem, meaning he could resume his profitable partnership with Wood.
The pair have scored 62% of Burnley’s goals in 2019, though they struggled to get much joy out of a resolute Newcastle backline.
Burnley’s only opportunity during the first half was an optimistic long-range effort from Dwight McNeil that was pushed away by Martin Dubravka.
Wood remains a fearsome threat from set-pieces and his winner was his 10th headed goal in the Premier League since the start of last season, at least two more than any other player.
Jack Cork should have sealed the win when he robbed Sean Longstaff of the ball inside the Newcastle half and evaded Fernandez on the edge of the area, but his low shot was well blocked by Dubravka.
Injuries catch up with Newcastle
In contrast to Burnley, Newcastle went into this game on the back of successive victories, scoring twice in each game, to raise hopes that the second half of the campaign will be spent competing in the top half of the table.
But a mounting injury list looks to have caught up with Bruce’s side, particularly in attack, as they failed to have a shot on target for the third time this season.
Hitting the ball towards lone striker Andy Carroll was an obvious tactic, with Newcastle attempting 20 crosses from open play.
But bar an early Isaac Hayden cross that Carroll headed wide, Newcastle’s delivery into the box was poor, even from set-pieces.
Brazilian forward Joelinton was deployed on the left wing in the absence of Saint-Maximin but again struggled to make an impact.
His best chance was a swerving volley from just outside the area that hit the side netting on 71 minutes.
Man of the match – Ashley Westwood
‘We’ve had a tough week’ – what they said
Burnley manager Sean Dyche told Match of the Day: “We’ve had a tough week with three losses. Against two top sides we didn’t perform as we can do. We’ve got a tight win today. Chris Wood has been ill for a few days and he stuck at it.
“We have a tight group here. I was really pleased with the mentality today. I’m pleased with the performance but I’m most pleased with the result today.
“It was a tight, awkward game but we’ve done the right things and come out on top.”
Wood uses his head again – the stats
- Burnley stopped their opponents from registering a shot on target for the first time in their 207 Premier League games.
- A team has failed to direct a shot on target on nine occasions in a Premier League game this season; Newcastle United have bene responsible on three occasions.
- Each of Burnley’s past seven Premier League victories have come without conceding a goal.
- Newcastle have lost five of their past seven Premier League away games, after losing just one of the five before that (W3 D1).
- Chris Wood has netted 15 goals in the Premier League in 2019 for Burnley, a joint-high for the Clarets along with Ashley Barnes.
Burnley travel to the south coast to take on Bournemouth while Newcastle host Crystal Palace in the Premier League next Saturday, 21 December (both 15:00 GMT).