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James McClean makes first start of the season as West Brom labour to uninspired draw

The 27-year-old winger was replaced by Jonathan Leko on 64 minutes.

Image: Nick Potts

WEST BROMWICH ALBION and Middlesbrough scrapped their way to a goalless draw in a Premier League game of few chances at The Hawthorns on Sunday.

The point apiece saw newly-promoted Boro climb into sixth place, with West Brom moving up to tenth in the table.

But this was a match to tax even the patience of the most loyal supporters, with visitors Boro not managing a shot on target until 17 minutes from time and the Baggies offering little more in attack.

The draw was some consolation for West Brom after they were knocked out of the EFL Cup on penalties by third-tier in Northampton on midweek, but Sunday’s match helped explained why Baggies manager Tony Pulis has been calling for several new players to join his squad by the close of the transfer window on Wednesday.

West Brom manufactured something close to an early chance when James McClean saw an 11th-minute effort smothered by Boro goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Salomon Rondon, West Brom’s record £12 million ($16 million, 14 million euros) buy, then headed two half-chances well wide.

Meanwhile Alvaro Negredo ploughed a lonely furrow up front for Boro.

Eight minutes before half-time, a rare attack by either side saw Brendan Galloway, making his Premier League debut for Albion after a loan move from Everton, produce a low save from Guzan.

But it was a far from threatening effort and Gaston Ramirez replied in kind early in the second half before the Baggies’ Craig Dawson headed wide of the target.

West Brom substitute Jonathan Leko lasted just five minutes before he himself limped off injured and he was replaced by want-away forward Saido Berahino.

At the other end, Boro’s Cristhian Stuani shot straight at Ben Foster in the 73rd minute before the visitors saw Stewart Downing shoot wide.

West Brom almost got a lucky break in the closing stages when Daniel Ayala’s shot struck Guzan before bouncing away from goal.

There was positive news from an Irish perspective as McClean made his first start of the Premier League season, but the 27-year-old winger was ultimately replaced by 17-year-old Leko on 64 minutes.

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

© – AFP 2016

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