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Having kicked off the season with three defeats, the under-23s finally got off the mark last night with a 1-1 home draw against Wolves at Turf Moor.

It was a game that got off to a very bright start, during which time we should probably have gone in front, suffered a serious lull in the middle but then saw us look the most likely winners at the end after both teams had scored within three minutes of each other.

Max Thompson scored from the penalty spot

I think Sean Dyche almost hinted at it and when the team was announced it brought a return to action for Kevin Long whose last action was our 1-1 home draw against Fulham in February when he stood in for Ben Mee due to concussion protocols.

Everything started well other than not being able to make a breakthrough in terms of goals. We had our chances though with Lewis Richardson, Max Thompson and Michael Mellon, the youngest player in our team, all going close.

But there were impressive performances right through the team and none more so than Anthony Gomez Mancini whose passing was a feature of the first half.

Wolves hadn’t really threatened too much and when we went in at half time the only concern must have been that we hadn’t been able to get in front.

When the teams returned for the second half it was a different game. For long periods we offered very little. Gone was the crisp passing and the good movement and Wolves dominated. But for goalkeeper Sam Waller they’d probably have taken the game away from us but, like us in the first half, they weren’t able to score the all important first goal.

We made a double change just past the hour. Long departed as did Richardson, who didn’t look too happy about it. Ten minutes, from nowhere, we took the lead. Mancini released substitute Sam Unwin with a delightful ball forward. Unwin went down in a challenge with Wolves goalkeeper Jamie Pardington. Penalty said referee Thomas Parsons; I remain unconvinced.

Penalty it was and Thompson made no mistake, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and hammering the ball home into the left hand corner of the net.

Wolves reacted with a substitution and three minutes later they were level. Mancini was dispossessed just inside the Wolves half. I don’t think it was a foul, but this referee had been giving them all night. The ball broke for their captain Luke Cundle on the right. He moved forward, played a one-two with Harry Birtwistle before placing his shot wide of Waller and into the bottom corner.

Cundle celebrated his 19th birthday in April this year, but it is now two years since he made his first team debut, coming on as a substitute for Pedro Neto in a League Cup game against Reading in September 2019. He played again in the same competition against Nottingham Forest, this time coming on for Fabio Silva.

He’s been with Wolves for seven years but prior to that he was at Burnley, leaving us as a 12-year-old at the end of the 2013/14 season.

Following the equaliser, Waller again did well with another good save to keep us level but as the game drew to a close it was us who came closest. Mellon headed an Ethen Vaughan cross just wide before, right on time, Mark Helm made a good run forward only to see his shot deflected wide for a corner.

But a draw in the end, probably overall the right result and at least we are off the mark.

The teams were;

Burnley: Sam Waller, Ethen Vaughan, Kevin Long (Jake Rooney 64), Jacob Bedeau, Max Thompson (Will Hugill 84), Mark Helm, Anthony Gomez Mancini, Ne-Jai Tucker, Michael Mellon, Lewis Richardson (Sam Unwin 65). Subs not used: Lewis Thomas, Finlay Armstrong.

Wolves: Jamie Pardington, Jack Scott, Pascal Estrada, Raphael Nya, Harry Birtwistle, Harvey Griffiths (Justin Hubner 83), Luke Cundle, Lewis Richards, Kai Corbett (Lee Harkin 77), Owen Hesketh, Conor Carty. Subs not used: Joe O’Shaughnessy, Kan Kandola, Tyler Roberts.

Attendance: 401.

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