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Burnley beat Port Vale 4-2 this morning at Gawthorpe in the Youth Alliance League game. It was a tough game for the young Clarets but we came through to win it and continue our good run of results.

This latest win means we’ve now won 10 of the last 14 games with only one defeat, and that a somewhat undeserved 2-1 loss at Blackpool back in February.

Oliver Younger scored the last goal
Oliver Younger scored the last goal

I think there has to be mention of the weather conditions at Gawthorpe this morning. So often over the years, Andy or myself have got a drenching or been blown away, often both. We’ve reported the problems of covering games there, but this morning it was Gawthorpe at its best with the cloudless skies on a still morning and I can’t think there can be a better setting for a training ground anywhere.

The Clarets had enforced changes. James Clarke and Tristan Jumeau have been ruled out with long term injuries while Ali Koiki was also missing from the morning’s line up. Clarke suffered a broken foot last week in the win against Morecambe while Jumeau’s is a knee injury which, I learned this morning, saw the game stopped for over ten minutes before he could be taken from the pitch.

With the full backs Clarke and Koiki out, Leighton Egan came in at right back with Tyler Shrimpton moving from his central midfield role to left-back. Nashé Chakwana took the wide position vacated by Jumeau with new recruit Harry Limb getting a start up front alongside Tommy Wood.

Limb had the ball in the net with only a couple or so minutes gone but the assistant referee flagged for offside. From my vantage point on the half way line it was difficult to disagree. A lead then would have been a big advantage for us because Port Vale, after a fairly even start, were beginning to look the better side and the made the most of it by taking the lead on 14 minutes, heading home from a corner.

Burnley started to come back into the game though and ten minutes later we were level through Dwight McNeil, who I thought had another impressive game. Limb did the spadework to the right but is ball across eventually found McNeil via a poor touch from a defender. McNeil made no mistake, drilling a hard shot into the corner from just outside the box.

It was an even game now and either side could have scored before Burnley got their second six minutes from half time. We won a corner on the right but the referee wanted words with a couple of players for pushing and pulling in the box. With order restored the corner came over and there was a thought that the referee might then spot something. He blew immediately and it was Burnley who benefited as he pointed to the spot.

There was a bit of a protest from Port Vale but Chakwana stepped up to hammer home the kick and six minutes later, with just seconds of the half remaining, he doubled our lead. This time the ball broke to him and he went clear alongside McNeil who went to his right, staying onside to give Chakwana the option. He didn’t need it, he fired past the goalkeeper and we went into half time with a 3-1 lead.

Port Vale look a very decent side at this level and they were soon back in the game, pulling one back just five minutes into the second half. At that point it looked as though we might have a difficult time holding onto the lead and there is no doubt that Vale did put us under some pressure in the second half.

With an hour gone we made a double substitution. Kian Yari, an under-16 had started the game, and he was joined by another member of that side Dylon Meredith who came on for Chakwana while Limb made way for Jordan Cropper who has recently joined the club after a successful trial.

Both did well too but we had some defending to do at times. Goalkeeper Connor King stood up to everything as did the back four with us holding on to our lead.

At times it was a case of looking at the watch to see how much longer there was to go but with five minutes of normal time remaining, Oliver Younger stepped up from the back to head home a left wing corner.

That was 4-2 and we weren’t going to let that go. Vale did have one good effort that flew just over the bar but by the final whistle we were worthy winners.

With news coming in that Walsall and Rochdale have both won, there is little change for us and we remain in third place and we’ve another tough one to come this Tuesday afternoon when we face Rochdale at Gawthorpe.

All in all, a well spent ninety minutes this morning. It was a really good game, we played well and we won three points. And I’ve even managed to top up my tan.

The Burnley team was: Connor King, Leighton Egan, Oliver Younger, Scott Wilson, Tyler Shrimpton, Nashé Chakwana (Dylon Meredith 60), Kian Yari, Miles Fenton, Dwight McNeil, Tommy Wood, Harry Limb (Jordan Cropper 60). Subs not used: Marcel Wusiewicz, Dan Moss, RJ Pingling.

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