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It took until fifteen minutes from the end for the only goal of the game, but the under-23s finally beat Bamber Bridge with a well taken goal from striker Rob Harker.

Harker climbed to get to a cross from Bobby Thomas and his header was absolutely perfect, back across and right into the bottom corner and gave the young striker his second goal in pre-season from the first three games.

1819 burnley rob harker 01 500x500Tunde Bayode had scored the goal last week at Stalybridge, but the injury sustained in that game ruled him out last night while Steve Stone was also without Josh Benson and Ali Koiki, both of whom had been on first team duty at Fleetwood, Mace Goodridge, who continues to move towards fitness after suffering a cruciate ligament injury, and captain Anthony Glennon who had a watching brief ahead of what appears to be a potential loan.

The starting line up included two trialists, the same two who were on duty at Stalybridge. The midfielder, we have now learned, is called Adam although we are still no closer to a surname, while Joel Mumbongo again started up front alongside Harker.

There was a familiar face in the Bamber Bridge team too for those of us who watch youth and reserve team (as it was then) football. Joe Booth, who was in their line up, came through the youth and reserve teams at Burnley, alongside such as Michael Hale, Tom Ince, Marc Pugh, Ryan Townsend and Neal Trotman, before moving into non-league football.

It was, for much of the time, a dour and uncompromising game, but both teams did have the ball in the net during the first half. Bamber Bridge thought they’d got an early lead but it was ruled out for a clear foul on goalkeeper Adam Legzdins while later in the half we were denied by an assistant’s flag, correctly I have to say, when Harker netted having just been caught offside.

The second half, as is so often the case, was interrupted with a number of substitutions. We brought on all three trialists plus the three named outfield subs and finally got that goal. It might have been two right at the end from Will Harris but his shot from the edge of the box went narrowly wide.

Stone was delighted with Harker’s goal and said: “All the hard work he puts in at the training ground has paid off. He’s one at the minute who looks like he’s on it. He grafts in games and I said to him afterwards that if you graft that hard, it’s amazing how lucky to get. I was pleased for him because he starts the team off at the front.

“He wasn’t great in the first half, in terms, of his hold-up play but he grew into the game and it was a good test for him against a centre-half with League experience.”

Stone added: “We had to complete, and I didn’t think we did that well in the first half, when I thought they were better than us. I let a few know at half time they have to compete and win headers and second balls and then when they get it they can play.

“I thought we did that eventually. It became a little bit more fragmented towards the end, which is understandable because I have trained the lads really hard over the last couple of days, but it was night and day in terms of the performance from last week.”

 

It was another evening that was somewhat warm to be watching football, let alone playing it, but by the time the under-23s play again, at Cheltenham this Saturday, we are assured this brief heat wave will be over.

The teams were;

Bamber Bridge: Lloyd Rigby(Danny Roccia ht), Christopher Churchman, Phil Doughty (Cameron Ross 65), Kieran Charnock, Adam Sumner, Joe Booth (Ryan White 62), Danny Forbes (Chris Marlow 76), Daniel Wisdom (Callum Spooner ht), Gary Pett (Mark Buchan 79), Scott Harries (Sidi Sanogo Fofana 79),Alistair Waddecarr (Matthew Dudley ht).

Burnley: Adam Legzdins, Jordan Cropper, Bobby Thomas, Oliver Younger, Scott Wilson, Joel Senior (Trialist 51), Trialist (Vinnie Steels 67), Christian N’Guessan (Trialist 62), Cricky Conn-Clarke (Trialist 66), Joel Mumbongo (Will Harris 56), Rob Harker (Lewis Richardson 78).

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