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Our U18 Professional Development League game against Sheffield United was looking set for a tight finish as we moved into the last quarter of the game with the scores level at 1-1, but that all changed when we sensationally scored four goals in seven minutes to complete a comfortable 5-1 win to move us within two points of second place Leeds.

It was a much changed Burnley team from the last time I saw us play at under-18 level. Since then we’ve released eight players. Just one of those players, Australian Oscar Woods, was in the side today while three more of them were involved in an under-19 friendly against Rangers which kicked off around an hour or so later.

1819 burnley matty rain 01 500x500It was my first opportunity to see under-16 midfielder Ben Woods in action while the captain’s arm band went to Cricky Conn-Clarke and there was a return to action for former York wide player Vinnie Steels.

It was a cagy opening to the game with Sheffield United a much bigger side and undoubtedly the stronger of the two. They had plenty of the game but didn’t really threaten too much and it was similar at the other end.

But just seconds short of twenty minutes gone, it was us who took the lead with a goal reminiscent of Ashley Westwood’s at Anfield. This time it was left-back Matty Rain (pictured) who took a right wing corner which went straight in to open the scoring.

I think it would have stayed at 1-0 for the rest of the first half, but the referee intervened just seven minutes from the break. Rain was again in the thick of things, this time handling the ball in the box but it was so, so harsh. The assistant had the clearer view but he thought nothing of it; the referee, who could hardly see what had happened, immediately pointed to  the spot. Rain was no more than a yard or so from the Blades’ player when the ball was hit at him. But it allowed Sheffield United to equalise and so we went in at half time with the score at 1-1.

We started the second half well but then fell away as Sheffield United got on top. You sensed this game could go either way and it was the assistant’s flag that sent it our way in the 69th minute. The ball dropped for Conn-Clarke in the box but the Sheffield United goalkeeper was able to get to his shot. It looked as if he’d tipped it over but it was dropping in when they cleared it off the line. It looked to me as though it must have been close to crossing the line and the perfectly positioned assistant agreed. Up went the flag; the goal was given.

It took us all of three minutes to get the next one and this was the best of the lot, a superb finish from Mitchell George. He curled a shot into the far top corner from the right hand side of the box. I thought that would just about ensure we’d get the points but within a minute; Joe Conley scoring from close range. Jayden Major had come on as a substitute just before the goalscoring fun started and he added another on 76 minutes to complete the scoring.

We came close to adding to it, but it was 5-1 in the end. That’s six wins and two draws in the last eight games and today’s was a bit special given how young and inexperienced the team was.

The team was: Kai Calderbank-Park, Oscar Woods (Udoka Chimna 84), Joe Conley, Edon Pruti, Matty Rain, Rhys Fenlon (Jayden Major 62), Ben Woods, Cricky Conn-Clarke, Vinnie Steels, Will Harris, Mitch George (Ne-Jai Tucker 79). Sub not used: Harry Allen.

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