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1516 burnley turf moor 04Burnley went through to the 5th round of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win against Bristol City in a game that will long be remembered for our second goal scored by midfielder Steven Defour.

There are exceptional football matches, good matches, not so good and there are players who can play well or not so well. There are also players who have the ability to lift you off your seat and those who know me will be aware of my constant references to Robbie Blake in that respect.

Yesterday, our Belgian international Defour lit the whole place up with a stunning goal which left Bristol City’s German goalkeeper Fabian Giefer helpless, and yet it had all come from a free kick at the other end of the pitch that our keeper Nick Pope had punched clear.

The punch took the ball just outside our box with a combination of Joey Barton and Johann Berg Gudmundsson scrambling it away. Gudmundsson quickly played the ball to Defour who was to his left and the pair, supported by Scott Arfield, both moved forward at pace.

Defour returned the ball to Gudmundsson who then played the ball back in for Defour who reached the edge of the penalty box before delightfully chipping the ball over the goalkeeper.

It was brilliant, and words can hardly describe it. Defour himself said: “It felt pretty good. When I made the control I saw the goalkeeper a bit out of his goal so I thought ‘why not?’. This is a pretty nice goal. I have scored some nice goals but this was really nicely done.”

It added to a Sam Vokes goal right on half time, a 50th league and cup goal for Sam in Burnley colours, coming at the same end as he scored his first to open the scoring in a 4-0 win against Ipswich in December 2011 when he was with us on loan.

Those goals took us into the 5th round of the FA Cup for the first time in six years, since wins against Port Vale and Burton gave us a televised Monday night tie at West Ham, one that is not best remembered.

Are Burnley bucking the trend with the FA Cup this season? The attendances are certainly suggesting that. Although a number of regular supporters shun this competition, the pricing has made it attractive and we even bettered the numbers who had watched us play Sunderland in the previous round.

The promised rise in temperatures hadn’t really reached us; the promised rain had and it was a case of dodging the showers on the way to the ground. The rain had stopped as I made my way down Harry Potts Way and I was pleased to see several people pausing to see the new player boards that went up last Tuesday, even the Bristol City fans showing a keen interest in Jerry Dawson, Bert Freeman, Tommy Boyle and George Halley close to their turnstiles.

Their manager Lee Johnson had made changes, one forced on him by Luke Freeman’s refusal to play as he becomes the latest player to go into engineering a move mode. Sean Dyche made eight changes from the team that played Arsenal; only our two central defenders Michael Keane and Ben Mee along with midfielder Defour remained.

It interestingly saw James Tarkowski getting a start in midfield and it was good to see both Arfield and Gudmundsson back after recovering from the hamstring injuries they suffered at Sunderland three weeks ago. It was also noticeable that the bench was a very experienced one just in case it was needed.

The first half wasn’t anything to get too excited about. We were largely in control without really threatening to break the deadlock with Gudmundsson probably coming the closest, seeing his effort deflected for a corner. To add to that, Vokes was within inches of reaching a ball from Arfield while Tarkowski blasted a rocket of a shot over the bar.

At the other end, Milan Djuric hit one early shot wide when he looked to get the better of Keane but with half time approaching he probably should have given the visitors a lead. His header from a right wing cross was well saved by Pope. He should have done better with that and certainly with the rebound. Bristol City paid for it too with Burnley going in front less than two minutes later.

They were trying to play the ball out of their defence on the left hand side but Defour nicked the ball from them. He played a one-two with Gudmundsson, nutmegged a defender as he moved into the box on the right hand side, and squared the ball for Vokes who placed his shot into the bottom corner.

Whatever the two managers had planned to say at half time changed, the goal was scored in the last minute of the half and that goal really had ended any hopes of an upset with Burnley very much in control throughout the entire second half.

We were close to a farcical second goal when Aden Flint’s back pass was just about kept out by Giefer and then Defour moved inside a defender just outside the box but shot wide.

There was precious little threat at the other end until they won a free kick which was taken by former Preston player Josh Brownhill. With memories of his strike that beat us in a pre-season friendly in 2014, it was a relief to see Pope save it but with home fans murmuring that he should have caught it rather than punch, we broke forward and scored our wonderful second.

It was game over. Barton and Arfield departed almost immediately and with just around 12 minutes remaining we made our third substitution with Defour leaving the pitch to a standing ovation. I thought he’d had an outstanding game even before his goal.

Jeff Hendrick and Ashley Barnes came on and then Michael Kightly. Bristol City had all but given up on the tie to be honest. We might have scored more and Defour could have left us with another piece of skill when either Barnes or Vokes could have scored from his free kick. Vokes hit the post, Hendrick was close as was Barnes.

This was an FA Cup tie and I expected City to throw the kitchen sink at us to try and get back into it. It didn’t happen; maybe they realised the game was up for them.

That’s two 2-0 wins in the competition, both of them far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Now we wait to see who we get in round five.

The game will not remain in the memory for too long; the second goal very definitely will. We’ll be talking about that for years to come. We’ve got Defour.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Jon Flanagan, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Joey Barton (Jeff Hendrick 70), James Tarkowski, Steven Defour (Michael Kightly 78), Scott Arfield (Ashley Barnes 70), Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Matt Lowton, Stephen Ward, Andre Gray.
Yellow Cards: James Tarkowski, Tendayi Darikwa.

Bristol City: Fabian Giefer, Zak Vyner, Aden Flint, Bailey Wright, Scott Golbourne, Jens Hegeler (Marlon Pack 76), Josh Brownhill, Callum O’Dowda, Bobby Reid, Joe Bryan (Tammy Abraham 61), Milan Djuric (Gustav Engvall 61). Subs not used: Frank Fielding, Hordur Magnusson, Jamie Paterson, Aaron Wilbraham.

Referee: Andre Marriner (Leeds).

Attendance: 14,921 (including 676 from Bristol City).

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