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Burnley went out of the Premier League Cup this afternoon, beaten 1-0 by Swansea City in our final group game at what can only be described as a bitterly cold Tameside Stadium, home of Curzon Ashton.

1718 burnley jordan cropper 00 500x500We needed just a draw from the game to go through but lost it to a Kenji Gorre goal nine minutes from time, a goal that has seen Swansea, who are keen to retain the cup, go through with Newcastle from our group.

This competition, like the Professional Development League, allows clubs to field up to three outfield players and a goalkeeper over the age of 23 but it has been rare that we’ve used that option this season and today we went the other way by leaving out regular under-23 players to allow them to play in a behind closed doors game tomorrow which has been arranged to give members of the first team squad some minutes, particularly those coming back from injury.

There was no Aidan O’Neil, nor Dwight McNeil, whilst Oliver Younger was an unused substitute and that meant an under-23 debut for Jordan Cropper (pictured top) and a first start at this level for Jordan Barnett who until recently was playing his football for Penistone Church.

There was very little between the sides in the first half and, if anything, we probably had the better of things. But, it was Swansea who took the lead when Gorre finished well to fire his shot across goalkeeper Conor Mitchell and into the bottom corner.

We were somewhat unfortunate to be behind at half time and certainly were at the end after a good half in which we had much the better of things never more so than when Cropper was throwing balls into the box. Youth team watchers have seen this all season from the young Nottingham lad who was playing right back today, and his ability to throw the ball long was certainly a talking point this afternoon.

Christian N’Guessan went close with a header and then Ntumba Massanka (pictured bottom) went close before Barnett had probably our best chance but his shot from a Brad Jackson cross went over the bar.

1718 burnley ntumba massanka 00 500x500But the closest we came to an equaliser, and a goal that would have seen us progress in the competition, came with around ten minutes remaining. Massanka did really well to turn and get in a shot that cannoned off the underside of the bar.

It meant Swansea were through but Michael Duff was pleased with the performance from such a young team. “We’ve just fallen at the last hurdle, but there’ll be other opportunities I’m sure and they will learn from it,” he said. “Swansea are a technical team and we’ve managed to get about them and take them out of their comfort zone.

“We had five under-18s playing in the game and some of them did really well. You don’t want to get beat, but Swansea won that competition with that team. They are a lot older and we were the width of the woodwork from going through.”

Duff added: “It was a lot more positive than it has been in recent weeks. I thought we were excellent. It was a completely different team with the game tomorrow, so we were probably six or seven short of where we were, but I thought the lads were excellent.

“We’ve asked them to play a slightly different way. We were more direct today, a bit more compact, and they delivered it well, considering they’ve only had a day to work on it and it was a difficult pitch. They’re a good team and I thought we’d made them look pretty ordinary.”

The teams were;

Burnley: Conor Mitchell, Jordan Cropper, Arlen Birch, Scott Wilson, Anthony Glennon, Jordan Barnett (Tinashe Chakwana 71), Christian N’Guessan, Rahis Nabi (Ali Koiki 90), Brad Jackson, Tommy Wood, Ntumba Massanka. Subs not used: Aidan Stone, Oliver Younger, Jamie Thomas.

Swansea: Steven Benda, Mael Davies, Aaron Lewis, Jack Evans, Cian Harris, Ben Cabango, Jordan Garrick, Marco Dulca, Botti Biabi (Courtney Baker-Richardson 73), Liam Cullen (Kees de Boer 87), Kenji Gorre. Subs not used: Causso Darame, Gregor Zabret, Brandon Cooper.

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