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Three weeks ago, Nathan Tella scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time against Ipswich Town to give us a 2-1 win and last night’s tie with Fleetwood and once again it was a late, late goal that won it for the Clarets.

It wasn’t quite stoppage time last night but we were into the 90th and final minute of normal time when Connor Roberts applied the finishing touch to take us through to the sixth round with a 1-0 victory.

There were not far short of 16,000 inside the Turf last night for what has now been confirmed as our last home cup tie of the season and thankfully for all of us the biting wind that we’d experienced throughout the afternoon had dropped to make it a much more comfortable experience. Not as though it really matters, we football fans are a strange breed, I’m not sure too many other people would choose to sit outside for around two hours in the winter.

We’d expected changes; the manager said there would be one or two. As it happened, there were seven with only Jordan Beyer, Josh Cullen, Josh Brownhill and Anass Zaroury remaining from the team that had murdered Huddersfield last Saturday. There was a surprise on the bench too with a first call up for 19-year-old central defender Dan Sassi.

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Then, it was free flowing Burnley, in front early, three up just past the half hour, playing superb football and playing the Championship strugglers off the park. Maybe it would have been just the same last night had we been able to get an early goal or two but they didn’t come and despite dominating the game from start to finish, we had to wait until extra time was looking a certainty before that winning goal came.

We were so much on top during the entire first half and the one big surprise was that not once did we find the net. Lyle Foster probably had the best chance. He robbed a dithering Harrison Holgate on the half way line and stormed through but then just chipped the ball into the hands of grateful goalkeeper Jay Lynch.

The Fleetwood defence was overworked throughout the half but the goalkeeper wasn’t as his defenders got in blocks so often while we were, at times, somewhat wayward with our shooting. He did make a couple of good saves but we’d not been able to create too many clear cut chances against a team determined to get men behind the ball at every opportunity.

We might not have been able to get a first half goal but Fleetwood did suffer a blow in the one minute of stoppage time added. In a rare move forward Cian Hayes tried to get the ball into the box, it rebounded but this time he went in with a high foot against Cullen. Referee Dean Whitestone went for his red card but I’m not so sure at all on this one. I’d say it was a very harsh decision and what it did was make it more difficult for Fleetwood in the second half.

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If we thought we’d dominated the first half then, against ten players, we stepped things up even further after the break, but credit to Fleetwood, they defended so well and at times you forgot they were a man down.

We had our chances, the best of them probably falling to Zaroury and Foster, but they weren’t taken. We even had a free kick on the edge of the area that Scott Twine hit into the wall. Just past the hour we made a triple change with Roberts, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Nathan Tella all coming on. Roberts went to left-back with Charlie Taylor moving into the centre alongside Ameen Al-Dakhil. That might not have seemed significant at the time but Roberts and Taylor were to play a major part before the final whistle.

I did say that I thought Hayes was unfortunate to be sent off but I remain baffled how Shaun Rooney stayed on the pitch. Having been carded early in the second half, he got away with a couple that looked like yellows to me and on one of those occasions, the referee reached for his card and then probably decided he didn’t want to send off a second.

By now it was virtually one way traffic but again the goal wouldn’t come. Taylor, who has never scored for Burnley, thought he’d finally broken his duck only to be denied by a save and then a goal line clearance.

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Our next change was enforced. Zaroury was caught by Carlos Mendes Gomes who had just come on as a substitute. He couldn’t continue and on came Darko Churlinov who became a big influence down the left, but it was the change seven minutes from the end that both surprised us and gave us some extra impetus. It really was a shock to see Halil Dervişoğlu come on. It’s the first time we’ve seen him since he replaced Ashley Barnes two minutes from the end of the Blackburn game back in November.

As we went into the final minutes, I’m sure just about everyone in the ground was expecting extra time but then, with the clock running down and the fourth official getting the board ready to let us know how much longer we’d play. Al-Dakhil played in Dervişoğlu for a shot at goal. Lynch did so well to save and even better to get the ball away from the centre and out to his left.

Tella picked the ball up and we worked it back across and eventually to Taylor who fired in a shot from 25 yards. Again Lynch saved but this time his luck was out. It bounced up for Tella to head it down. Vitinho turned on it on the six yard line and shot at goal, but it was Roberts who got the final touch to win it for us with the clock showing just fifty more seconds to go plus added time.

Added time was five minutes and now, out of sheer necessity, Fleetwood went forward. They had a couple of long throws into our box and they even won a corner, but there was to be no equaliser for them and as frustrating a night it had been for us at times, we were through to the sixth round and deservedly so.

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With news coming through that Grimsby had won at Southampton, I think we were all hoping that they might be our visitors in the next round. Making the journey home, we learned that we’d been given the most difficult tie possible – Number 6, Manchester City v Number 8, Burnley. So it’s the Etihad now in two and a half weeks time.

But, better being at Manchester City than having been knocked out, much better, and I’ll look forward to the trip there will perhaps not expecting to win although I do suspect our manager will receive a warm welcome from the home fans.

It’s the other Fylde coast team next with a trip to Blackpool when I expect some of the players left out last night will return. Until then, I’ll enjoy us being in the last eight of the FA Cup for the first time in twenty years.

The teams were;

Burnley: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Vitinho, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Jordan Beyer (Connor Roberts 62), Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill (Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson 63), Josh Cullen, Michael Obafemi (Nathan Tella 63), Scott Twine, Anass Zaroury (Darko Churlinov 74), Lyle Foster (Halil Dervişoğlu 83). Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Dan Sassi, Samuel Bastien, Ashley Barnes.

Fleetwood: Jay Lynch, Shaun Rooney, Harrison Holgate, Toto Nsiala, Josh Earl, Danny Andrew (Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu 89), Josh Vela, Lewis Warrington, Scott Robertson (Dan Batty 66), Harvey Macadam (Carlos Mendes Gomes 67), Cian Hayes. Subs not used: Rio Cragg, Max McMillan, Darnell Johnson, Phoenix Patterson, Paddy Lane, Will Johnson.
Yellow Cards: Danny Andrew, Shaun Rooney, Josh Vella.
Red Card: Cian Hayes.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northampton).

Attendance: 15,987 (including 1,841 from Fleetwood).

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