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Burnley kicked off the 2016/17 season last Saturday with a 1-0 defeat against Swansea City, but tonight we are about to bring the 2015/16 season to an end with a cup final against Stoke City.

It’s the Northern Final of the Final Third Development League Cup (Central League Cup) which has had to wait until the new season because of long delays in us first winning a place in the semi final and then awaiting our opponents in that semi-final.

Ntumba Massanka has scored three goals in the competition

Ntumba Massanka has scored three goals in the competition

Stoke’s under-23 boss Glyn Hodges said of the wait: “I’ve never had a cup final in August before, it’s certainly a new one to me. We would have preferred to have played the game last season. I guess you could say we’ve been treading water a little bit until a date for the game could be finalised but it’s here now and we want to do ourselves justice.”

The game will be played at Leek Town’s Harrison Park tonight with a 7 p.m. kick off with admission charges of £3 for adults and £1 concessions.

Burnley were drawn in a group with Bradford City, Fleetwood and Morecambe. A goal from Cameron Dummigan and two from Ntumba Massanka earned us a point from a 3-3 home draw against Fleetwood which we followed up with a 4-1 win at Bradford with a goal from Jamie Frost, an own goal and two from Khius Metz. A 1-0 home win against Morecambe, courtesy of a late Josh Ginnelly goal, gave us a chance of going through but that was dependent on a remaining game between Fleetwood and Bradford City.

We’d played out three games by mid-November but it was February by the time that last remaining game was played. Fleetwood needed to win to get through ahead of us but Bradford City won 2-0 and a couple of days later we learned our semi-final would be against Hartlepool or Middlesbrough away.

Then came the next wait with an outstanding game between Gateshead and Middlesbrough holding things up. Eventually, in mid-April, Middlesbrough won through and in the following week we travelled to the North East and beat them 2-0 with George Green and Massanka getting the goals, but that left no time for the Stoke final to be played and so we move on to tonight.

I’m not sure whether we are playing the game under last season’s rules or the new rules brought in this season. If it is last season’s rules, we are permitted to play three outfield players and a goalkeeper over the age of 21, but the rules have changed now and the qualifying age is 23 with all the second string leagues at varying levels now adopting the new age limits.

That makes it difficult to determine what our team might be but Green and Ginnelly, key scorers last season, won’t be there as they are now out on loan and it is very likely Dan Agyei will be moving to Coventry soon on loan so he might not be available.

Stoke have just moved into Leek this season where they will play the bulk of their under-23 games. Hodges said of the move: “The facilities at Leek Town are excellent. They are friendly people, the pitch is great and they’ve got a good fan base.”

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