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Sixty-eight days after leaving a jubilant Turf Moor at the end of last season, football for me finally got back underway yesterday with a trip to the Giant Axe, home of Lancaster City, to watch the under-21s play their first public pre-season game.

With the first team set for what looks like a tour of western Europe in the next few weeks, and games I can’t unfortunately get to, it could mean that yesterday will be my only Burnley game before we kick off the season for real next month with the visit of Manchester City.

This was a trip I’d been looking forward to having had past associations with our hosts. That’s over forty years ago now and I didn’t honestly expect to see anyone I knew from back then, but I was delighted to see Barry Newsham still there and it was nice to have a chat with him over a cup of tea ahead of kick off in the boardroom although he did have some sad news with the passing of one old friend Burt Lancaster (Burt wasn’t his real name but given the surname ……) and that the manager at the time, former Newcastle and Blackpool striker Keith Dyson, is now struggling with ill health.

The Giant Axe hasn’t changed much but it was good to see as many as 268 in attendance. That might not seem many to supporters of clubs at the level we play, but the money through the gate and the refreshments sold yesterday will have given this Northern Premier League club a boost and it was also good to see a good number of Burnley supporters in attendance.

As for the game, I think it is fair to say that it didn’t go our way in terms of the result with the home side winning 3-0, but it will have been a positive day for the coaching staff who saw twenty of their players get some minutes in again (they played a behind closed doors game earlier in the week) ahead of a training camp next week.

It was all Burnley in the opening stages of the game and we came so close to going in front on a number of occasions. Twice we hit powerful shots just over and on other occasions home goalkeeper Andre Mendes stood out as he made two or three outstanding saves with Renaldo Torraj the player causing him most problem.

Out of the blue (or maybe dolly blue), Lancaster came close to scoring when Dom Lawson latched onto a through ball. His shot beat goalkeeper Sam Waller (who had played on loan at Lancaster last season) but crashed against the bar with a follow up shot blocked.

That didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on Burnley, resplendent in the club’s new home kit (my view is that it would have looked much better with white shorts), and we just kept going at the home side with Mendes again denying both Joe Westley and Lewis Richardson, and how good it was to see Richardson back on the pitch.

That one effort apart from Lancaster, things looked good, but just before the half hour we gave away a goal trying to play it out from the back. The Lancaster player, listed as a trialist, latched on to hit and fired home from the edge of the box and we found ourselves behind. The same player was close again with a free kick that fizzed just wide of the right-hand post but there was always this belief that Burnley would get back into it.

That proved not to be the case. Trailing 1-0 at half time, we made a number of changes and the momentum, as is so often evident when a number of changes are made, was gone. Just past the hour, Lancaster doubled their lead and again came from us playing out. Brad Carroll nicked the ball off us and fired home at the near post.

Shortly afterwards the scoring was complete when Dom Lawson, who had come so close in the first half, got up at the far post to head home.

We made another raft of substitutions at this point but the result was decided although for both teams it really was more about getting some game time.

Thankfully, having rained heavily at one point during the game, it was fine for the short walk back up to the station. The result might not have been what we might have wanted to see but I thought it was an enjoyable day out at a club that I have retained an affection for and one I hope will have a good season in the Northern Premier League.

The teams were;

Lancaster: Andre Mendes, Matty Clarke, Kyle Brownhill, Charlie Barnes, Andy Teague, Jamie Mellen, Brad Carroll, Christian Sloan, Dom Lawson, Charlie Bailey, Trialist. Subs: Cole Stephenson, Sam Bailey, Nic Evangelinos, Pat Allington, Jenson Butterworth, Robbie Deighan, Paul Jarvis, Trialist.

Burnley: Sam Waller (Harry Moss ht), Alex Healy-Byrne (Oliver Sweeney 72), Dan Sassi, Benn Ward (Jack Turner ht), Brad Grant (Joe Ashton 72), Will Hugill, Basilio Rieno Socoliche (Callum West 72), Tom Tweedy (Dylan Sime 72), Renaldo Torraj (Lucas Wane ht), Lewis Richardson (Joe Rogers ht), Joe Westley (Kian Le Fondre 72).

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