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1617 burnley youth team picThe calendar year has ended for the Youth Alliance League with Walsall claiming the Christmas number one with a four point lead over Bury at the top of the league, but Burnley’s sixth place with 22 points from 13 games marks a dramatic improvement on the first half of the year.

The year had started with a 4-1 win at Morecambe, and in mid-March we won 3-0 at Fleetwood. There was also a 0-0 home draw against Blackpool but those results stand out as the only point winning games from January to the end of the 2015/16 season.

The record was played 14, won 2, drawn 1, lost 11, goals scored 14, goals conceded 36. Terry Pashley had gone, Andy Farrell followed and it was a rudderless ship in a department that had been run into the ground in just over four years.

You can’t go from there to perfect in a matter of months but with a new regime at the head of the department, and Michael Duff installed as youth team coach, the improvement has been there for all to see.

The team has already won more points than in the entire 2015/16 season and goes into Christmas and the New Year in 6th place in the table and only one two points behind third place Bury and we ended the year with a more than creditable draw at Port Vale with a young side in action due to the Premier League Cup tie on the following day.

I can confirm that RJ Pingling scored his fourth Burnley goal to earn us that draw, although there was some confusion last Saturday afternoon with news coming out that goalkeeper Connor King had scored a late equaliser having gone up for a corner.

It proved not to be the case, it was a wind up from the players but by the time the truth came out the ‘goalkeeper scores’ news had already been reported on Up the Clarets. That was fine. It was funny, particularly given that I passed the information on and it spread very quickly.

What was even funnier was the club’s poor attempt at trying to belittle us on social media. It backfired on them though when they reported: “Controversy to what you might have heard …..” rather than “Contrary to what you might have heard …..”, worryingly not even understanding their mistake in choosing the wrong word.

But as we prepare for 2017, it’s brilliant and a relief to know that the old regime has gone. Graham Lancashire, who said it didn’t matter if we lost every game, departed last spring and he’s since been followed by destroyer in chief Jason Blake and his henchman Kieran Scott.

It’s a long road back but we are now, at least, moving in the right direction. The new facilities at Gawthorpe move ever closer to completion and we are all hoping for good news in a few months time when we are audited for EPPP Category 2.

I’d like to send my best wishes for Christmas to everyone in the youth department and wish them all the very best for 2017 and beyond.

And, in the last youth update of the year, below are the results from the last two weeks in the Youth Alliance League, Burnley’s goalscorers and the Christmas League Table.

RECENT RESULTS

Thursday 8th December
Wigan 3 Burnley 4

Saturday 10th December
Blackpool 3 Preston 2
Carlisle 1 Port Vale 2
Fleetwood 1 Morecambe 4
Rochdale v Walsall – postponed
Shrewsbury 3 Accrington 2
Tranmere 1 Bury 4

Saturday 17th December
Morecambe 0 Shrewsbury 2
Port Vale 1 Burnley 1
Walsall 3 Fleetwood 3
Wigan 1 Tranmere 0

NEXT FIXTURES

Saturday 7th January
Blackpool v Carlisle
Burnley v Walsall
Fleetwood v Shrewsbury
Port Vale v Rochdale
Tranmere v Accrington
Wigan v Preston
Wrexham v Morecambe

BURNLEY’S GOALSCORERS (League & Cup)

6: Tommy Wood
5: Olatunde Bayode, Nashé Chakwana
4: RJ Pingling
2: Dwight McNeil, Tyler Shrimpton, Scott Wilson
1: Tristan Jumeau, Kwasinkosi Mpofu

CURRENT LEAGUE TABLE

Team pld w d l f a pts
Walsall 13 9 3 1 23 8 30
Blackpool 12 8 2 2 32 15 26
Bury 12 8 0 4 22 11 24
Port Vale 14 7 3 4 24 19 24
Accrington Stanley 11 7 2 2 17 13 23
Burnley 13 6 4 3 21 19 22
Rochdale 12 6 3 3 17 14 21
Wigan Athletic 15 4 5 6 23 25 17
Shrewsbury Town 14 4 5 5 19 23 17
Carlisle United 13 4 1 8 15 21 13
Tranmere Rovers 14 3 3 8 10 19 12
Fleetwood Town 14 3 3 8 21 33 12
Morecambe 13 3 2 8 19 25 11
Preston North End 13 1 7 5 17 23 10
Wrexham 13 1 5 7 15 27 8
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