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The under-23s beat Barnsley a week ago at Curzon Ashton, but it was back to the familiar last night with a ninth draw of the season in league and cup when we came back to equalise through a Josh Benson penalty in a 1-1 draw against Leeds United at Elland Road.

That leaves us still unbeaten this season on a night when a point each was probably a fair result with Leeds looking the better of the two sides in the first half and us taking the second half honours.

1920 burnley josh benson 01 500x500On arrival at Elland Road, I wasn’t sure I was going to make kick off given the queues. The first of those queues was at the ticket office but once the ticket was purchased there was another long queue to actually get inside as a whole army of stewards were doing back checks. Even after getting inside, there were queues to get through the concourse up to the seats with the central section of the lower tier of the main stand open.

It was a case of searching for available seats and I’d just got to mine as the teams prepared to come out and they were quickly followed by assistant coach Andy Farrell and goalkeeping coach Craig Mawson. Once again, for a third successive game, there was no sign of Steve Stone who hasn’t been seen since his Sunday afternoon altercation with the referee and fourth official at Bishop Auckland.

In front of a crowd reported to be in four figures, it was very definitely Leeds who got off on the front foot with a far more experienced side than ours and it was probably no surprise when they edged in front midway through the half. It was a poor goal from our perspective with Anthony Glennon caught out initially and goalkeeper Lukas Jensen, who otherwise had a good game, only able to palm Ryan Edmondson’s header into the bottom corner of the net.

It signalled a turning point in the game and we could so easily have got back into it as we started to force the pace. Lewis Richardson did get the ball into the net only to be flagged offside and Rob Harker should have equalised but headed over the bar and by half time I think there had been enough to suggest we could definitely get back into the game and secure at least a point.

We started the second half on the front foot and we were so unfortunate that we had to wait until just past the hour to get the equaliser. Ali Koiki, who had another impressive game, hit a shot from outside the box that smashed against the woodwork and then Scott Wilson saw his header bring an excellent save from Ilan Meslier, the Leeds’ goalkeeper.

Surely a goal had to come and it did when Richardson did so, so well in the Leeds penalty box which was halted when Pascal Struijk fouled him in the penalty box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. This one didn’t need VAR to make a mess of it, it was a clear penalty. Now, over the last year or so it is something our under-23s haven’t taken advantage of with a number of failures from the spot. Already this season both Koiki and Harker have failed to score so Josh Benson (pictured) stepped up and made absolutely no mistake.

For much of the remainder of the game we looked by far the more likely although Leeds did give it a go in the closing minutes, but when the final whistle blew it was probably a fair result.

Speaking after the game, Farrell said: “The boys were excellent. There were some good qualities. The hold-up play from Rob (Harker) was very good, probably the best we’ve seen him, and in all a good performance from the whole team really.

“Their attitude and approach to getting around the ball and tracking and recovering and getting back into shape was excellent. I think that’s probably come from where the first team are and their team beliefs. We are just following suit and the lads are taking it on board really well.”

It’s back home now for two games next week, a league game against Sheffield Wednesday at Curzon Ashton before the Premier League Cup game against Crystal Palace which is to be played at Bamber Bridge.

The teams were;

Leeds: Ilan Meslier, Jamie Shackleton (Robbie Gotts ht), Liam McCarron, Olly Casey, Pascal Struijk, Liam Cooper (Leif Davis ht), Jordan Stevens, Alfie McCalmont, Ryan Edmondson, Mateusz Bogusz, Jack Clarke (Tyler Roberts ht). Subs not used: Kamil Miazek, Jack Jenkins.

Burnley: Lukas Jensen, Ryan Cooney, Scott Wilson, Anthony Glennon, Ali Koiki, Ne-Jai Tucker (Tunde Bayode 64), Christian N’Guessan, Adam Phillips (Mace Goodridge 84), Josh Benson, Lewis Richardson (Joel Mumbongo 75), Rob Harker. Subs not used: George McMahon, Kane Patterson.

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