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fleetwood 2 1000x500Having taken in the defeat at Crewe last Saturday as opposed to the victory at Port Vale, last night’s 2-0 win at Fleetwood got me off the mark in this pre-season on a night when Ali Koiki scored his first goal, we looked a much better outfit once in front, the love in with Joey Barton continued and the temperatures reminded me of our away game at Olympiacos eleven months ago.

This one seems to be a popular fixture with the Burnley fans and again, as was the case four years ago, the away fan section of the main stand and the away end terrace were both full for the game. If only someone had let them know at the chippy across the road from the turnstiles. Not expecting those sort of numbers, they actually ran out of chips.

Sean Dyche had given his players a tough morning as the mini-heat wave kicked in and so split his squad and decided to give most of them 45 minutes on a night  when designated drink breaks were incorporated and again we saw Koiki, Jimmy Dunne and Josh Benson involved with Koiki playing in the first half and the other two coming for the second period.

Sean Dyche received his customary reception from the travelling fans on his arrival just ahead of kick off but that was nothing compared to the reception that his counterpart received then and again at the final whistle and he was delighted with it. Speaking after the game he said: “I’ve got great memories there. It’s always nice when they sing your song but it’s one of them where I think they know the way I feel about playing for that football club and the feeling is clearly mutual.

“It is somewhere where I really enjoyed a great period of football and somewhere that one day I hope to go back, I don’t know what capacity that is, and hopefully go back in the near future because it says that we as a football club are progressing. It’s a club close to my heart and obviously the fans are a huge part of that affection I’ve got for the football club.”

One surprise in the first half line up was the appearance of Charlie Taylor. He wasn’t expected to return until Saturday but was able to get his first pre-season action in a first half that was almost a repetition of Crewe.

Given the conditions, it was probably no surprise that we tried to play the game at a very slow pace but I would think Joe Hart was called upon too often in the early stages for Dyche’s liking as we struggled to put any real fluency into our play. He looked assured and the only time he was really beaten was when James Tarkowski was so very close to putting the ball into his own net.

But it all changed with everyone looking at their watches and waiting for the half time whistle. We won a corner on the right hand side that eventually dropped for Mate Vydra. He saw his shot blocked, as did Aaron Lennon with a follow up, but it was third time lucky as Koiki, who had missed an earlier chance, latched onto the ball, turned well and hit a left foot shot into the bottom corner to the goalkeeper’s right.

That changed the mood in the away end for the fifteen minute interval and when the players re-appeared for the second half, only Hart and Kevin Long remained from the first half and it seemed as if the goal had changed the mood of the game altogether as we injected more urgency into our game and it was no surprise when, just before the hour, we added a second goal.

It was no surprise that it was Chris Wood who got the finishing touch either. He’s scoring for fun this pre-season and this time got in on a low cross from Phil Bardsley which had followed good work from Benson and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson whose run into the box and ball out to Bardsley set it all up.

I think it is worth mentioning Benson at this point. At Crewe last Saturday he looked nothing like the player I’ve seen in the under-23s. He look possibly overawed by the occasion of playing in the first team for the first time in front of a crowd, but last night it was so different and he had an excellent second half with some very good possession and some telling passes.

Fleetwood had a couple of chances. They did get the ball in the net only to have the goal correctly ruled out for offside, but we always looked the more likely and right at the end we might have made it three on a couple of occasions.

At Crewe, I reported that with VAR we’d have won two late penalties and it was the same last night when a Fleetwood defender almost pulled Ashley Barnes’ shirt off his back . Barnes then was so close to getting onto a ball in from the left.

And that brought the proceedings to an end. I don’t know what it was like for the players but it was damned hard work watching in that heat to be honest.

There was just time for one more Joey Barton chant before leaving where the seagulls had centred on the chippy only to find there were no chips for them either.

It’s Wigan now this Saturday where I hope the next Scouser on the touchline gets a good reception. I sometimes wonder what would have happened to us in 1999 had Paul Cook not come in and helped turn things round.

Last night’s teams were;

Fleetwood: Alex Cairns (Billy Crellin 71), Lewie Coyle (Macauley Southam-Hales 71), Harry Souttar, Peter Clarke (Nathan Sheron 71), Danny Andrew (Ryan Rydel 81), Jordan Rossiter (Dylan Boyle 81), Wes Burns, Paul Coutts (Ash Hunter 71), Harrison Biggins (Barry Baggley 73), Josh Morris (Dan Mooney 81), Conor McAleny (Harvey Saunders 71).

Burnley First Half: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jeff Hendrick, Ali Koiki, Matěj Vydra, Jay Rodriguez.

Burnley Second Half: Joe Hart, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Erik Pieters, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jack Cork, Josh Benson, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood.

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