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Just a year ago, goals from Rob Harker and Ntumba Massanka gave us a 2-0 lead in the first nine minutes of our pre-season friendly at Stalybridge Celtic but last night our hosts repaid us in full with two early goals of their own in a game that ended 3-1 to the home side.

There was no suggestion of what was to come when we won an early corner. With Oliver Younger literally having his shirt taken off his back, it came to nothing but flag kicks at the other end were soon our undoing.

1718 burnley olatunde bayode 00 500x500With just three minutes gone we failed to deal with a ball in from a corner. It eventually dropped for Neil Kengni who hit home and three minutes later that lead was doubled, this time Craig Hobson getting above Younger to power in a header.

There was no sign of a fight back from us. Too often we overplayed and it was all to slow paced making it easy for the home side who, with any good fortune, would have added more to their already two goal lead.

Eventually we did start to come into the game. Cricky Conn-Clarke forced a good save from Patrick Mahome but the goalkeeper was beaten in the next attack as Tunde Bayode (pictured) pulled one back. It all came from a superb through ball played by the midfield trialist for Bayode who still had much to do. He opted to take it round Mahome before slotting home into the empty net.

We should have been level very soon after when Harker fed the forward trialist, clearly Joel Mumbongo. He chipped the goalkeeper only to see his effort go narrowly wide. It was a miss that very quickly cost us when Stalybridge scored their third. A cross from Kengni towards the near post came in from the left and Hobson got there ahead of Kai Calderbank-Park to turn it home.

That, in effect, was the most of the action with the second half proving to be a tiresome affair with little opportunities, in fact it was Stalybridge who twice came closest to adding to their goal tally while we, despite a lot of possession, offered very little in terms of a goal threat although we did, at least, get the opportunity to see a few minutes of latest signing Ryan Cooney who came on as a late substitute and went onto the left hand side.

Coach Steve Stone was clearly unhappy with what he saw: “That’s real football,” he said. “I Spoke beforehand about respecting the opposition in terms of they were going to give it everything they’ve got and put the ball in behind and challenge and make it difficult and scrap for everything. They did that better than us right from the start and we were 2-0 down from set plays because they put the ball in behind us and asked us questions.

“I said to the boys afterwards they wanted it more than you, so that’s a starting point for them to learn for the rest of pre-season and the rest of the season. That’s their one.”

He added: “They have to learn when it’s on to play and when it is over play. The instructions I gave them at half time seemed to be ignored by inexperienced, younger members of the group. That’s sometimes expected, and they need to learn quickly.”

The under-23s are next in action at Bamber Bridge next Wednesday evening.

The teams were;

Stalybridge: Patrick Mahome, Declan Walker, Steve O’Halloran, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford, Ross Dent, Craig Hobson, Nathan Valentine. Neil Kengni. Subs: Mark Lees, Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr.

Burnley: Kai Calderbank-Park, Jordan Cropper, Oliver Younger, Scott Wilson, Anthony Glennon, Tunde Bayode (Will Harris 61), Christian N’Guessan, Trialist, Cricky Conn-Clarke (Ryan Cooney 84), Rob Harker, Trialist. Subs not used: Harry Allen, Joel Senior, Edon Pruti, Bobby Thomas, Vinnie Steels.

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