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Yesterday’s win against Watford at Vicarage Road, our eleventh league victory of the season, has lifted the under-21s to fifth place in the north group of the Professional Development League.

We came from a goal behind to lead 2-1 against the south group’s bottom club with goals from Wiktor Gromek and Joe Bauress and, after Watford drew level at 2-2, Seb Thompson scored a winner for us.

It was a young Burnley team with four under-18s in the starting eleven and another five on the bench. With some players having been told they will be leaving the club, there were some notable absences from the squad.

The teams at Watford were;

Watford: Jonathan Macauley, Trialist, Harry Amass, Charlie Davis, George Abbott, Joshua Mullins, Shaq Forde, Aidan Coyne, James Collins, Jack Grieves, Adrian Blake. Subs: Gabriel Ortelli, Max Delyfer, Jordan Fankwe, Ezio Touray, Michael Adu-Poku.

Burnley: Charlie Casper, Alex Healy-Byrne, Dan Sassi, Jack Turner (Gabriel Otegbayo 87), Brad Grant, Tom Tweedy, Will Hugill, Joe Bauress, Jez Davies (Callum West 80), Seb Thompson (Rohan Vaughan 80), Wiktor Gromek (Ryan Tioffo). Sub not used: Harry Moss.

Our hopes of a play-off place ended on Monday last week when we were beaten at home by Swansea but we can now look back and see that a win would not have been good enough with second and third ending the season four points ahead of us.

We did move ahead of Barnsley, who had already completed their fixtures, and Peterborough, who were held to a 1-1 draw last night by Colchester. It was a dramatic finish for that second place behind runaway winners Sheffield United. Ahead of yesterday’s games, Wigan sat above Hull courtesy of a goal difference that was better by one. Wigan kicked off earlier than Hull and won 5-1 at QPR which was likely to be more than enough. That was until Hull, across London at Charlton won 5-0. With goal differences level, it’s Hull who go through to the play-offs by virtue of having scored more goals.

The play-off semi-finals will be Sheffield United v Bristol City and Millwall v Hull with the first of them to be played next Monday.

Our goal difference was an issue. No team in the north group conceded more than our 57 although only Peterborough and the top three scored more than our 45 with our scoring list led by Dara Costelloe (pictured above) who scored seven of those league goals.

The Goalscorers

7: Dara Costelloe
5: Seb Thompson
4: Michael Mellon & Ne-Jai Tucker
3: Halil Dervişoğlu & Marcel Lewis
2: Owen Dodgson, Kade Ratchford, Lewis Richardson, Tom Tweedy & Joe Westley
1: Joe Bauress, Darko Churlinov, Wiktor Gromek, Mark Helm, Joe McGlynn, Dan Sassi, Renaldo Torraj, Benn Ward & Trialist

We are expected to be playing in the Professional Development League again next season with the club not moving back to Category 1, this despite the commitment a year ago to move forward to regain Category 1 status.

The 2023/24 season will be preceded with a game against Barrow in the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup. It’ the third time in four that we’ve reached the final, losing to Blackburn in 2019 and Liverpool last year. There was no competition in the 2019/20 season.

Our last success in the competition came in 1992 when it was simply known as the Lancashire Cup and was played as a pre-season tournament. After beating Preston 5-1 and drawing 1-1 at Blackpool, we drew 2-2 against Bury in the Turf Moor final before going on to win the penalty shoot-out 4-3. Our goalscorers in the draw were Adrian Randall and Robbie Painter.

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