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Snow was falling in the Burnley area this morning but thankfully had cleared by the time we were ready to take on Leeds United in the U18 Professional Development League at Burnley, indeed the sun had started to shine through ahead of what proved to be a very enjoyable game of football involving a very unfamiliar looking Burnley line up.

We play Leeds again in two days time in the FA Youth Cup and so we certainly engaged in a bit of squad rotation which could very likely see us making eleven changes for Monday’s encounter. The starting eleven included four under-16s, none of whom I’d seen play before, while we again included Lewis King and Craig Ellison, the two new recruits from Spennymoor who are cup tied for Monday’s game.

1718 burnley terry mupariwa 00 500x500The game was all ready to start with Leeds in their change kit of all black when a clear problem became evident with the three match officials also in all black. The referee spoke to one of our coaches but then decided he would play the game, seemingly not seeing it as a problem, until one of the Leeds coaches strode onto the pitch remonstrating with him.

Eventually, after an eight minute delay, the game kicked off with the three match officials now reluctantly sporting bright yellow tops supplied by Burnley.

After a quiet opening, it was Burnley who started to look the most likely although it was Leeds who had the first real chance of the game. When they went clear it looked as though goalkeeper Marcel Wusiewicz might not have made the correct decision but he got it absolutely right to deny them.

At the other end, we hit the bar following a corner and continued to play the more constructive football and five minutes or so before the break we finally got the breakthrough when Terry Mupariwa (pictured) finished well to open the scoring.

It might have been 2-0 within a minute as we clipped another shot onto the bar and then, with half time approaching, we hit the woodwork for a third time from a Dylon Meredith free kick.

Meredith was so unlucky not to score early in the second half when a superb effort came back off the post with the goalkeeper beaten but then, surprisingly, Leeds equalised having won what looked to be a soft free kick on the edge of our area. The kick was a good one that went into the corner of the net.

We didn’t let it trouble us though and went on to dominate the remainder of the game and could have won it more convincingly than 2-1 had we not missed a host of chances. But, encouraged from the touchline by some of those who will be playing on Monday, we won a penalty with just under a quarter of an hour remaining which under-16 Mitchell George converted expertly.

Would those missed chances come back to haunt us? There was just one scare when Leeds got another free kick in a similar position but this time the defensive wall were able to get a block on and Burnley saw the game out.

That’s the last home league game for the youth team in 2017. Our next four games, taking us into 2018, are all away with the next home game scheduled for Saturday 20th January when Birmingham will be our visitors.

The team was: Marcel Wusiewicz, Amr Badhawi, Kwasinkosi Mpofu, Joe Conley, Bobby Thomas, Lewis King, Ne Jai Tucker, Terry Mupariwa, Craig Ellison, Mitchell George, Dylon Meredith. Subs: Kai Calderbank-Park, Akim Samms, Richard Taylor, Matthew Rain, Jayden Major.

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