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We might be short of players, things might not be all they should be right now at Turf Moor, but we did something last night that we don’t do very often and that was winning a League Cup tie with a penalty shoot out victory against Sheffield United.

Having gone behind early in the game, we fought back to equalise midway through the second half with a Matěj Vydra goal and then hit a perfect five from the penalty spot in front of an empty Jimmy McIlroy Stand while Nick Pope made the crucial save to deny Oli McBurnie to send us through to a third round tie at Millwall next week.

It was 2012 when we last kicked off the season with a game in this competition. That was because of the late start to the league season because of the London Olympics. We came from behind to win 3-1 at Port Vale.

I know a lot of supporters, and not just Burnley supporters, don’t bother with cup ties but I do enjoy them and do enjoy going to them. That Port Vale game was one I was desperate to get to having had major health problems in the preceding weeks and I remain thankful to my friends who managed to get me there and back. The last time I did miss a Burnley game in this competition was actually twenty years ago tomorrow when we went out at Crystal Palace on away goals.

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That run of attending games in the competition is over. It was the EFL stream for me last night. I have to say the camera work was generally fine, probably better than I expected but what a disappointment with the commentator who had failed to do much, if any, research prior to the game. I’m sure he referred to Sheffield United at one point as Sheffield Wednesday but he very definitely did call us Aston Villa and even considered a penalty might be given for a free kick out on the left wing.

All the attention for us was an hour before kick off when the teams were announced. I wasn’t quite right with my team prediction. Matt Lowton was preferred to Phil Bardsley while neither Dwight McNeil nor Chris Wood played; their places taken by Robbie Brady and Matěj Vydra, both of whom were to play significant roles by the end of the night. The big shock was in the centre of defence. The omission of James Tarkowski caused frenzy among Burnley fans but it has since been confirmed that it is no more than a toe injury and Sean Dyche does expect him to be fit for the trip to Leicester this Sunday. That meant Jimmy Dunne coming in for his Burnley debut.

Chris Wilder said he’d make changes and he did, ten of them with only local boy Oliver Norwood retaining his place from the team that were beaten by Wolves on Monday of this week. But this was no second string line up; he included five of his six summer signings.

It started well enough for the first two or three minutes but then it all went wrong. We fell behind in only the fourth minute of the game although we’ve learned since that the goal would not have stood in the Premier League with VAR in use. David McGoldrick, who eventually scored from a left wing cross, was offside when he made the initial break down the right.

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There was little reaction from us other than one speculative effort from Jay Rodriguez. The goal had affected us, no doubt about that, but the next major talking point had more even effect. Blades’ defender Jack Robinson played a ball but then followed through and caught Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson. After an injury plagued season in 2019/20, it was good to hear reports of a fully fit JBG but he stayed down.

I think the realisation that it wasn’t something and nothing came when he was given oxygen on the pitch. We then had to see him stretchered off for potentially another lengthy spell on the sidelines. I remain astonished that referee Paul Tierney didn’t take action against Robinson. Some will say red, some maybe yellow, but Tierney and his assistant, who was clearly close enough to see it, decided it wasn’t worth anything.

We did settle things down and did get back into the game but chances were few and far between although we did think we might have had a penalty when goalkeeper Wes Foderingham hauled down Vydra. Tierney was showing no inclination to give it but in any case the offside flag had gone up; it was a free kick to the Blades.

Other than that start, when they scored and we lost a player to injury, we’d played well enough I thought but it got better in the second half and we probably should have equalised earlier than we did. The best chance fell to Brady. Ashley Westwood, captaining the side, released substitute Erik Pieters. He made a good run forward before playing in Brady on the right hand side of the box.

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Unfortunately, he seemed to get the ball caught up in his feet which left him to shoot right footed. Did Foderingham get a touch? I’m not sure but we did see the ball come back off the inside of the post. I read last night that Brady’s right foot is only for standing on. Maybe some should go back and look at the goal he scored at Bournemouth just a few days before he suffered his serious injury.

The Irish international did play a part when the equaliser came. He found Westwood with a header for him to play the ball into the box. Jay Rodriguez laid it off perfectly for Vydra to volley it over the goalkeeper.

It prompted Sheffield United to give it a go and we had some defending to do for the next few minutes, but that was done comfortably and we soon got back into it. Dyche opted to give another of our young players a debut with Josh Benson coming on with around a quarter of an hour to go. Both he and Dunne can be very pleased with the way they played.

There was just one final scare when a very fortunate couple of misplaced passes eventually led to Sheffield United getting a shot on target right at the end but Pope was there to gather it easily and he was now, as goalkeepers are, set to play his part in the shoot out.

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The Jimmy Mac End it was with Sheffield United and Norwood to go first. He scored, as did Chris Wood, who had come on as a substitute. Pope then saved from McBurnie and with all the other players scoring we went through 5-4.

Our five were taken by Wood, Vydra, Josh Brownhill, Pieters and finally Brady who had the honour of placing his penalty in the bottom corner to confirm victory. All five were expertly taken. Dyche said afterwards that he’d reminded of them of the one penalty that he took (FA Cup semi-final) but none of our players opted to hammer the ball down the middle as he did. We didn’t give Foderingham a chance with any of them.

So it is Millwall next week, a first visit to The Den since 2013. We can only hope we don’t run out of players by then or there could be a number of other under-23 players being drafted in.

It’s a cup win though, only our second in seven years in this competition and the other did come at Ewood back in 2017. It was good to be back playing again and it was definitely very good to get that victory. Now onto the Premier League and a trip to Leicester.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Erik Pieters 15), Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood (Josh Benson 75), Robbie Brady, Jay Rodriguez (Chris Wood 82), Matěj Vydra. Subs not used: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Phil Bardsley, Bobby Thomas, Dwight McNeil.

Sheffield United: Wes Foderingham, Ethan Ampadu, Phil Jagielka, Jack Robinson, Jayden Bogle (Chris Basham 86), Oliver Norwood, Sander Berge, Ben Osborn, Max Lowe, Oliver Burke (Billy Sharp 62), David McGoldrick (Oli McBurnie 62). Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale, Regan Slater, Kean Bryan, Zak Brunt.
Yellow Cards: Phil Jagielka, Ethan Ampadu.

Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan).

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