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Seasons come and go all too quickly and yesterday we enjoyed our final away trip of the season with the Clarets ensuring it was a good day out by winning 2-1 against Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

Manuel Benson, yes again, scored as did Jay Rodrigues, the same two players who had scored in the 2-1 home win against back in September, just our second home win of the season.

Sometimes things go to plan while on other occasions they don’t; yesterday we were meeting up at Prestwich and the two cars arrived within a minute of each other, enabling to start the journey on time. It was trouble free, no traffic queues and no damaged tyres this time which, including a breakfast stop, got us to Bristol in very good time and we parked next to Bedminster Cricket Club here the groundsman was busy preparing a wicket at the home of the West of England Premier Cricket League club while over the boundary, there were a considerable number of Clarets enjoying some pre-match refreshments.

It’s just a short walk to Ashton Gate, a much different looking Ashton Gate from our last visit in 2015. Then, the new stand behind the goal had been built replacing the previously named Wedlock Stand with its backless seats and there was a building site which is now the Lansdown Stand, named after the owner Steve Lansdown. I’m pleased to report that Nelson Mandela House from Only Fools and Horses is still there.

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They’ve got a good set up outside with the bars and food outlets too and that’s where we were when the team news reached us. We expected team changes; there were. We thought such as Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Scott Twine and Lyle Foster would get starts; they did. In total there were five changes with both Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Manuel Benson joining those three.

Playing for the first time since being crowned champions, I have to say that Bristol City showed our club far more respect than the club we played in midweek and their team gave us a guard of honour as we made our way onto the pitch. I hadn’t noticed at the time but their players were joined by manager Nigel Pearson and his staff as Josh Brownhill led out the Clarets. Brownhill a former Bristol City player received a warm welcome too from the home fans.

It all started well for us and the only real concerns early in the game came when playing the ball out from the back and the only real effort of note from Bristol City was a Harry Cornick shot from outside the box that fizzed just wide.

Josh Cullen, similarly, had seen a shot go wide and it was at the far end, where much of the action was as we dominated the game. Lyle Foster saw an effort go just wide having been played in by Ameen Al-Dakhil but when the defender played another ball into their box, it led to us taking the lead.

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Brownhill tried to lay it back but it went to a home defender but as they tried to play out, Benson picked up the ball on the right wing. We know what Benson has been doing recently and so did Bristol City. They were double marking him, even having three players on him at times to try and stop him.

This time he played a one-two with Connor Roberts and then did what he does. He came inside and curled another special into the far corner. It was a sensational goal and I’d go as far as to say his best one yet.

Four goals in four games; the last to do that in the league for Burnley was Chris Wood who scored in the final three games of the 2019/20 season against Wolves, Norwich and Brighton followed by the first game of the next season against Leicester. Ashley Barnes did virtually the same a year earlier; he scored in the final game of the 2018/19 season against Arsenal and then scored against Southampton, Arsenal and Wolves at the start of the previous season. Barnes it is who was also the last to achieve it within one season, scoring against Manchester United, Southampton and Brighton and Spurs during that 2018/19 season.

From that moment on, the Burnley fans were encouraging him to shoot just about every time he went near the ball but the closest we came to a second in the first half came when Foster found Vitinho whose shot was off target.

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By then, Foster, who I thought was more impressive than in any previous game I’d seen him play, had suffered following an accidental aerial collision. Four minutes before the break, it saw him depart as we used a concession substitution, bringing on Rodriguez.

A 1-0 half time lead hardly highlighted how much we’d been on top. This game could so easily have been out of Bristol City’s reach by the time the players went in for the break.

We might have doubled the lead at the start of the second half. Benson’s cross was flicked on by Rodriguez but Vitinho blazed over at the far post. The next attempt on the home goal was sensational. A shot didn’t look likely when Roberts received the ball but he hammered it against the bar with a touch from goalkeeper Max O’Leary.

It just needed another goal but it was a shock when it came at the other end. Roberts was beaten in the air and, just outside the box, Andreas Weimann got the better of Al-Dakhil before slipping the ball into Tommy Conway who had the simplest of tasks to hit home.

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To be level with an hour gone was frustrating, it did not reflect the game at all, but we were quickly back in front. Bristol City protégé Alex Scott out on the left inexplicably played the ball across and straight at Twine who touched the ball just twice. The first touch brought the ball down and he then turned to find Rodriguez with his next touch. It was outstanding from Twine and Jay, who had made the run into the box, finished first time with a shot into the corner.

It was his first goal since October but he received wholesome praise from Vincent Kompany after the game. Kompany said: “I’m really pleased for Jay. You could see how much it meant to him and how important it was. He has missed the last three months through injury and I think if he had been fit all that time he would have over twenty goals. I feel for him but we wouldn’t be where we are today without Jay’s impact at the start of the season, he was pivotal to our success.”

We couldn’t rest and they did put us under some pressure. Weimann should have done better with one chance than fire well wide and then he did get the ball in the net only to see referee David Webb having given a free kick for a foul by Nahki Wells on Roberts.

We made changes to tighten things up and eventually the whistle blew on a 2-1 win which again brought the players down to the away end to celebrate, Harwood-Bellis looking like the main cheerleader. As we left, Jack Cork, Charlie Taylor and Ashley Barnes were receiving rapturous applause as they did their warm downs.

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Time for home then with a stop planned at Gloucester Quays. It was another inspired choice; the food and drink were excellent. Then the final leg of the final trip of the season accompanied by some very loud music as we listened to Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode, Don’t You want Me by the Human League, Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Mrs Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel, and even the Heartbeat theme.

A quick car change at Prestwich and then home. Another long day out, another enjoyable day out and now awaiting the fixtures to see where we will be going next.

That was win number thirteen on the road, beating the eleven in each of the two previous seasons. There is no doubt that no matter how good a trip we have, winning the game really is the most important ingredient.

Thanks to all those who put up with me on our travels, be it those I go with regularly, those occasionally and those on the coach when I opt for travel with the Supporters’ Club. It wouldn’t be anything like as much fun travelling on my own.

The teams were;

Bristol City: Max O’Leary, George Tanner (Andreas Weimann 56), Zak Vyner, Kai Naismith, Cameron Pring, Andy King (Joe Williams 56), Matty James, Harry Cornick (Mark Sykes 56), Alex Scott (Nahki Wells 70), Sam Bell, Tommy Conway. Subs not used: Harvey Wiles-Richards, Jay Dasilva, Tomas Kalas.
Yellow Card: Andreas Weimann.

Burnley: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Connor Roberts, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Ian Maatsen (Charlie Taylor 82), Josh Brownhill, Josh Cullen, Manuel Benson (Jack Cork 82), Scott Twine (Michael Obafemi 67), Vitinho (Ashley Barnes 86), Lyle Foster (Jay Rodriguez 41). Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Charlie Casper.

Referee: David Webb (Lancashire).

Attendance: 24,065 (including 2,716 Clarets).

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