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accrington 1000x500Burnley became the latest League Cup victims last night when a 120th minute goal from Accrington Stanley’s Matty Pearson gave them a 1-0 win against us and a trip to West Ham in the 3rd round.

It shouldn’t have happened but it was no surprise when it did given that we’d made ten changes from the side that beat Liverpool last Saturday with Sam Vokes the only player to start both games.

We still shouldn’t have lost the game but this was not a good performance by any means and at times we looked like a set of individuals who hadn’t played together.

Just over 20 years ago, I recall a real furore when Manchester United opted to play what was considered a weakened team in a League Cup tie. As it happened, that team won 2-1 at Port Vale with debutant Paul Scholes scoring both goals. After the game, Alex Ferguson said: “This could incur the wrath of the authorities, but the inexperience of my side was an advantage tonight because they didn’t seem to have a care and feared no one. The boy Scholes took his goals superbly, and capped an excellent performance by the whole team.”

It’s now become common practice in this competition, but more to so give fringe players a game rather than blood youngsters. We did a little bit of both last night with four players actually getting their first competitive starts for the club. They were the Charlton pair, Nick Pope and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, loan player Jon Flanagan from Liverpool and teenager Aiden O’Neill who, I have to say did extremely well throughout the two hours of football.

More than anything, I think we were thankful that Aiden was on the pitch that long after the shocking challenge on him from former Burnley player Shay McCartan. I know Shay was poorly treated at Burnley but his early over the top challenge on O’Neill last night really was appalling and it is hard to believe that even this somewhat inept referee Tony Harrington could see it and only issue a yellow card. It wasn’t the only unsavoury incident in which McCartan was involved either; he might have got another red later in the first half, this time the hapless Harrington not even taking any action other than awarding a free kick and yellow carding another player for speaking out of turn.

With James Tarkowski (pictured at the end of the game) captaining the side, there were signs early in the game that this might be a very comfortable win. One break apart, nothing was seen of Accrington as we dominated the game and created some decent opportunities. I reckon we’d have been easy winners had we been able to get in front from one of them.

Stanley did come close on one occasion with a header but again, just before half time, we should have done better with an opportunity but Michael Kightly’s cross was too strong for Lukas Jutkiewicz who would have only needed a touch to be a certain scorer.

It hadn’t been good; far from it, but we did start to dominate even more in the second half. But it was all so slow and my thoughts were that we needed a Dean Marney type figure in the middle of the pitch to get some energy into the play.

We didn’t test them often enough and the best opportunity again fell to Juke whose header from a Vokes effort went agonisingly wide.

Andre Gray came on and then Scott Arfield. Gray, more so, gave us an impetus but by the end of the ninety minutes the game had just about lost its way and it felt like another thirty minutes would be too much to endure.

It was; it was painful stuff at times with neither side ever really giving a suggestion that they might win it. Gray did have the ball in the net with a smart finish but the whistle had gone well for a foul before he hit the shot.

Then, as we were all trying to decide who would take the penalties, and at which end they would be taken, Pearson ruled out the need for that when the ball dropped nicely to him in the box to finish.

We were out at the first time of asking with a 1-0 defeat for the third successive season. In terms of the result, I suggested this was the most embarrassing we’d suffered since that horrible, horrible day at Telford almost thirty years ago. I stand by that suggestion.

If some of those players were being given the opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the Premier League team, they failed the examination I’m afraid. There were very few who really came out with much credit at all.

Burnley Football Club used social media yesterday to ask fans who they wanted in the next round. That silly idea backfired didn’t it? We all know the answer to that question now.

I joked earlier this week of having two big away games at Accrington and Chelsea this week. The team will be back to how it was last Saturday by the time we get to Stamford Bridge. At least we’ll be taking the league seriously.

The teams were;

Accrington: Elliot Parish, Matty Pearson, Mark Hughes, Omar Beckles, Seamus Conneely, Janoi Donacien, Sean McConville, Steven Hewitt, John O’Sullivan (Arron Davies 101), Shay McCartan (Romuald Boco 68), Billy Kee (Patrick Lacey 84). Subs not used: Callum Jones, Bastien Hery, Ross Sykes, Aaron Chapman.
Yellow Cards: Shay McCartan, Seamus Conneely, Janoi Donacien.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Tendayi Darikwa, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Jon Flanagan, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Fredrik Ulvestad, Aiden O’Neill, Michael Kightly (Scott Arfield 81), Sam Vokes (Andre Gray 67), Lukas Jutkiewicz (George Boyd 105). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tom Anderson, Danny Lafferty, Ntumba Massanka.
Yellow Cards: Sam Vokes, Fredrik Ulvestad.

Referee: Tony Harrington (Hartlepool).

Attendance: 3,170 (including 1,824 Clarets).

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