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bishop auckland 1000x500Burnley’s Premier League Cup campaign got underway yesterday with an away game against Middlesbrough, played at Bishop Auckland, and it probably comes as no surprise that the game ended in a draw.

We’ve already drawn a Lancashire Senior Cup tie, before winning it on penalties, and five of the eight league games to date have also ended all square so yesterday’s game, another we really should have won, takes it to seven draws in ten games alongside three wins for the still unbeaten under-23 side.

Standing on touchlines at youth games and attending games at this level often see you getting to know some of the players’ parents but yesterday it was one of the Middlesbrough player’s dads we had a chat with before kick off and he’s someone with a Burnley connection.

His son, Connor Malley, was wearing the number ten shirt for Middlesbrough and dad told his that his brother had played for Burnley back in the day, indeed that he’d played in probably our club’s most important ever game, that against Orient in May 1987. His brother, of course, is Phil Malley who still lives locally.

1920 burnley scott wilson 00 500x500There was a surprise on the Burnley team sheet. During pre-season we had striker Joel Mumbongo on trial. By the time the season kicked off it looked as if he’d left, there had been no suggestions from the club that he was still around, but, out of the blue, he was wearing the number nine shirt yesterday, playing as the main striker in a team with an unfamiliar looking 4-1-2-3 line up.

We started the better of the two sides and we got an early advantage when defender Scott Wilson (pictured) hooked the ball home from a right wing corner with just about eleven minutes showing on the clock.

Such was the start, it would have been no surprise to have seen us go further ahead. Rob Harker saw an effort inadvertently blocked by Mumbongo and there were a couple of other opportunities. We couldn’t get that second goal and as the half progressed so Middlesbrough came more into the game.

We had one almighty escape when we cleared off the line seconds after they’d hit the woodwork but we kept them out up to half time and probably just about deserved our lead.

The second half, while not being one way traffic by any means, was pretty much us in the ascendancy for most of it. The old problem was still there though, we are not putting enough chances away and that’s what is keeping the draw column high and the win column lower than it should be.

Even so, it did look as though one would be enough to get off to a winning start, that was until the last few minutes when Middlesbrough first crashed a ball against our bar and then won themselves a penalty. The referee, in a good position, waved it away but the assistant flagged and a penalty it was, as soft as it looked to me.

I wasn’t the only one unhappy with the call. Boro’s captain Ben Liddle scored from the spot to level things up at 1-1 and our coach Steve Stone appeared to kick away a bottle in frustration. He was spoken to by the fourth official, and promptly disappeared.

That wasn’t the end of it. Play resumed and we won a free kick some fifteen yards outside the Boro’ box. It was then that the referee came over, spoke to his fourth official and then looked for the now absent Stone. Loud enough so that anyone could hear, he demanded of goalkeeping coach Craig Mawson: “Go and get him,” and Craig disappeared too.

The wait was a long one and eventually Stone reappeared and the referee waved his yellow card at him, much to the amusement of those watching. It led to an additional five minutes of stoppage time but we just couldn’t get that winner and another draw it was.

Stone, speaking about the game afterwards, said: “We had chances really early on to win the game, but once again, like most games, we haven’t put them to bed. That normally then comes back to haunt you, which it did today as they got a penalty with three minutes to go.

“Then you have to accept the fact a 1-1 draw comes to bite you on the backside, because you haven’t finished your chances off early on, but we showed great character, commitment, work rate and all those things that you are looking for in players.”

The teams were;

Middlesbrough: Sol Brynn, Daniel Dodds, Nathan Dale, Nathan Wood, Patrick Reading, Ben Liddle, Hayden Hackney, Connor Malley, Sam Folarin (Rumarn Burrell 74), Stephen Walker, Isaiah Jones. Subs not used: Nicholas Hood, Jack Robinson, Stephen Wearne, Harry Flatters.

Burnley: Lukas Jensen, Ryan Cooney, Anthony Glennon, Scott Wilson, Ali Koiki, Adam Phillips, Christian N’Guessan, Josh Benson, Lewis Richardson, Joel Mumbongo (Tunde Bayode 61), Rob Harker. Subs not used: George McMahon, Jordan Cropper, Ne-Jai Tucker.

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