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Goals from Dwight McNeil and Tommy Wood, either side of half time, gave Burnley a 2-0 win against Bradford City in the 3rd round of the FA Youth Cup to earn a home tie with Norwich City who have gone through with a win at Watford.

Dwight McNeil opened the scoring
Dwight McNeil opened the scoring

It took us until very close to the half time whistle to open the scoring but it was a night when we never looked in any real danger of losing under the lights and pouring rain.

Much of the first half seemed to be a battle between our forwards and visiting goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy who was very much the sweeper keeper that Pep Guardiola so admires. He was outside of his penalty box far more than he was in it and often headed balls clear or out for a throw when he could so easily have been in his box picking them up.

It was Bradford’s tactical plan as the defenders pushed up and relied on the keeper. They constantly caught us offside and on a couple of occasions we should probably have done better when we did get through, but it always looked as though Bradford were one attack away from getting it wrong.

That came in the 45th minute. Olatunde Bayode played the ball through and it looked as though the flag was going to go up again with Nashé Chakwana in an offside position. This time he didn’t go for the ball as McNeil stormed through to take it on, go past the keeper some way outside the box before pushing the ball into the gaping empty net.

It really was no more than we deserved and it gave us the lift to start the second half on the front foot and ten minutes in the game was all over as another through ball, this time from McNeil, saw Wood latch onto it and fire home.

Within a minute it was almost three. Wood broke down the right but his cross shot just evaded Chakwana coming in at the far post.

Connor King, in goal at the other end, hadn’t had much to do at this point but he did make a couple of saves as Bradford looked to get back into the game. But it was always Burnley looking the more likely in what proved to be a comprehensive victory.

I’m sure it will be a much tougher game in the next round but tonight, overall, was a good performance from the young Clarets who will be pleased with their night’s work, none more so than Chakwana, Miles Fenton, Mark Howarth, Tyler Shrimpton and Wood, all of whom were involved in the defeat against the Met Police a year ago.

Coach Michael Duff said after the game: “It’s all about getting through. It’s a clean sheet and two goals. I thought we made a little bit hard work of it and I think we’re better than we showed, but we never looked in any trouble. The back four was very solid. It was a pleasing result although the performance could have been a little bit better.

“They will all be better players for that experience. We have got Norwich at home in the next round who are a very, very good team so we will have to be better than we were tonight. Hopefully we can grow from that and add to that. It’s all part of the development and next time when we are out there hopefully we can play even better.”

The team are next in action this Saturday with an away game against Port Vale, but for now they will enjoy being in the 4th round of the FA Youth Cup.

The teams were;

Burnley: Connor King, Billy Grogan, James Clarke, Scott Wilson, Ali Koiki, Olatunde Bayode, Mark Howarth, Tyler Shrimpton (Miles Fenton 86), Dwight McNeil, Nashé Chakwana, Tommy Wood (RJ Pingling 75). Subs not used: Marcel Wusiewicz, Kwasinkosi Mpofu, Tristan Jumeau.

Bradford City: George Sykes-Kenworthy, Tom Windle (Jake Maltby 13), Harry Warren (Daniel Aitken 74), Kwame Boateng, Alex Laird, Sam Wright, Christian Farrar (Casey Taglione 59), Curtis Peters, Ville Moilanen, Reece Powell, Ellis Hudson. Subs not used: Ross Mullett, Raeece Ellington.

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