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When Burnley went 2-0 down, and with only 19 minutes gone, yesterday afternoon against Huddersfield Town in the Professional Development League, it looked as though we might be in for a very tough afternoon in our first game of the season at Turf Moor. But by the end of the game, we’d earned a point from a 3-3 draw and really should have gone on to win the game handsomely after dominating the second half.

With Nahki Wells now fully fit and with the first team squad, and with Fredrik Ulvestad ruled out with the injury picked up at Crewe last week, the only experience in the Burnley team was provided by Dean Marney as he continues his return to fitness following the cruciate ligament injury he sustained at Arsenal in January.

1718 burnley dwight mcneil 00 500x500We were also without Harry Flowers who had come off injured in the Premier League Cup win against Colchester last Thursday which meant a pairing of James Clarke and Oliver Younger in the centre of defence, two 17 year olds who are currently second year scholars.

The two goals which gave Huddersfield such a good start in the game were not very good goals from our point of view. Isaac Marriott opened the scoring in just the 8th minute when he was given two opportunities to score after a cross had been parried into his path by Aidan Stone.

And in the 19th minute things got worse when Joe Lolley, who scored for Huddersfield in our 3-1 Championship win back in March of last year, scored with ease with a shot across our defence into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

By then we’d already been forced into a substitution with Mark Howarth forced off, and things could have been even worse after a very poor start to the game.

But then it all changed. We got ourselves back into the game via a right wing corner on 24 minutes which came after a Marney effort, our first of the game, had been deflected behind. Dwight McNeil (pictured), another second year scholar, took the flag kick and there was some confusion in the stand as to who had scored as it was headed in at the far post.

It was Younger who got the touch and less than a minute later we were level with McNeil getting a goal to add to his assist, with a powerful left foot shot from around ten yards out.

Incredibly, and with less than half an hour of the game gone, we fell behind again. A Lolley free kick clipped a defender and it was 3-2 with the goal recorded as an own goal.

A goal feast looked very likely at that point and we should have had the opportunity to draw level before half time when we won a free kick right on the edge of the box. The foul, by the Huddersfield goalkeeper, was inside the box and a penalty should have been awarded.

It was, therefore, 3-2 for the visitors at half time and it was a lead then kept until just past the hour with McNeil getting his second with a shot fired into the bottom corner after a flowing move by the Clarets.

Huddersfield will wonder just how they survived the rest of the game though. We had enough opportunities to win the game but at times the final ball wasn’t just good enough and we also missed some very good chances.

There was always a concern that we might get caught on the break but as we continued to dominate we created one final chance right at the end which Tunde Bayode blazed over the bar after doing so well to get into position.

Overall, there were some real positives, none more so than Marney getting a full 90 minutes to add to two shorter appearances and then the 82 minutes he played at Crewe.

And there was the performance of McNeil who, like Younger, will be celebrating his 18th birthday this month. The pair have done really well and are now being used almost exclusively in the under-23 team.

Coach Michael Duff said: “I thought we were the better team for the majority of the game, we just gave them three of the softest goals you’d ever see. All three went in in slow motion. They have to learn that you can’t give away three goals and expect to win a game.

“But, on the other hand, we did create enough chances to win two or three games. The football was really good and the way we moved the ball, particularly in the second half.

“The more pleasing thing in the second half was that we got a press on and looked more like a Burnley team. The first half was an academy game. It was like a basketball match, which is unrealistic and is not how we’re trying to get our lads to play, because they won’t have careers if they play like that. They took on the information and they delivered in the second half.”

The teams were;

Burnley: Aidan Stone, Arlen Birch, James Clarke, Oliver Younger, Ali Koiki, Tunde Bayode, Dean Marney, Mark Howarth (Rahis Nabi 15), Tinashe Chakwana (Christian N’Guessan 83), Dwight McNeil, Harry Limb (Jamie Thomas 72). Subs not used: Connor King, Bobby Thomas.

Huddersfield: Tadhg Ryan, Mason O’Malley, Dylan Cogill, Danny Kane, Jordan Thomas, Isaac Marriott, Scott High (Micah Obiero 70), Jack Boyle, Joe Lolley, Denilson Carvalho (Dom Tear ht), Olly Dyson. Subs not used: Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Saul Milovanovic.

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