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It’s FA Cup fifth round night at the Turf tonight with us taking on League One club Fleetwood Town who will be playing at Burnley for the first time.

Twice we’ve played them at Highbury in pre-season friendlies but my first visit there to watch a Burnley team was back in the 2007/08 season when I saw our reserve team beat Blackpool there in a Pontin’s League game. That was the game when manager Owen Coyle decided to play alongside his coach Steve Davis. He claimed in a recent podcast that it was to help Jay Rodriguez but as we know, he’s not renowned for telling the truth. Jay, at the time, was on loan at Stirling Albion and the player he was supposedly helping was Alex MacDonald who scored our second goal in a 2-1 win.

Our first team games against them came in 2015 and 2019. Both games were won 2-0. Stephen Ward and Marvin Sordell scored in the first with Ali Koiki and Chris Wood on the mark four years later. Their managers at the time were Graham Alexander and Joey Barton. They were also managed by Micky Mellon who won them promotion to the Football League in 2012 but he was dismissed after owner Andy Pilley learned he’d shown an interest in the vacant job at Burnley following Eddie Howe’s departure.

Two years later, they won promotion to League One where they’ve been since and they arrive at Burnley tonight in eleventh place in the table. They are a team very much in form too with four wins and a draw in their last five league games, the wins coming against Charlton, Peterborough, Cambridge and Morecambe, all but the Charlton game at home. The draw came at promotion chasing Plymouth.

They’ve had to win through four rounds in the FA Cup to reach tonight’s tie. A Lewis Warrington goal and two from Paddy Lane gave them a 3-1 home win against Oxford City in the first round and they followed that up with a 1-0 win at Ebbsfleet when Joe Garner scored the only goal.

Things have stepped up since. While we were beating Bournemouth in the third round, they saw off QPR at home, winning 2-1 with the goals coming from Toto Nsiala and Promise Omochere. That set up a fourth round tie against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. They drew that 1-1 when Omochere again scored. A solitary goal from Carlos Mendes Gomes (pictured below) was enough to give them a 1-0 win in the replay.

Two of those goalscorers are no longer with the club. Lane signed for Portsmouth in January while Garner moved to Carlisle.

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They are managed by former Celtic player Scott Brown who replaced Stephen Crainey last summer. Looking forward to tonight’s game, Brown said: “It’s an exceptional game to look forward to; first time in the fifth round against the Championship leaders that play unbelievable possession based football consistently. They always have high intensity and look to lock you in by putting you under pressure so we are looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s going to be a different challenge, but the lads have got to go out there and enjoy it because it’s phenomenal what they’ve done so far this season in this competition and anything that happens after this is a bonus. For us, we’ve just got to enjoy the moment and play as well as we can, but not go out there and defend for ninety minutes.

“They are a possession based team so we’ve got to go there with a game plan and we do have the pall during the game, we’ve got to be claim, make the right decisions at the right time, whilst also having that willingness to run in behind and cause them problems too.”

Fleetwood’s most recent game was the 1-0 home win against Morecambe when they lined up: Jay Lynch, Harrison Holgate, Toto Nsiala, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, Shaun Rooney, Josh Vela, Lewis Warrington, Harvey Macadam, Phoenix Patterson, Jayden Stockley, Carlos Mendes Gomes. Subs: Stephen McMullan, Danny Andrew, Scott Robertson, Jack Marriott, Callum Dolan, Cian Hayes, Josh Earl.

It’s Fleetwood’s first time reaching this stage of the FA Cup. Our recent record in the competition isn’t good but wins against MK and Fulham saw us reach this stage two seasons ago before going out meekly at home against Bournemouth while the previous occasion was in 2017. We’d beaten Sunderland and Bristol City, a game remembered for Steven Defour’s goal, but we crashed out at home to Lincoln in the fifth round.

I’m sure no one needs reminding that it’s twenty years since we last won a fifth round tie. That was a home replay against Fulham after which we went out at Watford with us turning in a miserable performance.

To get here, we’ve won 4-2 at Premier League Bournemouth before drawing at League One Ipswich with us winning through with a 2-1 victory in the replay.

We know the objective this season is to win our place back in the Premier League but we are a long way ahead at the top and this really is a big opportunity to get into the last eight where all of Blackburn, Brighton, Fulham and Manchester City claimed places last night.

One of our players has a good record against Fleetwood. Scott Twine, who got his first league start for us last week at Millwall, has scored five times in just two games against them. He netted both goals in a 2-0 away win for Swindon two seasons ago and notched a hat trick last season in a 3-3 home draw for MK.

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Looking forward to the game tonight, he said: “I think it’s exciting, there’s a buzz about the place. You can see that every day in training. All the lads are loving it and we’re working hard to make sure that continues.

“We’ll treat it like every other game we’ve played this season. We’ve gone into a lot of detail with every game with Vinny and the clips before the games. We’ll do that again to get ready for Wednesday and hopefully win.”

Twine was our first summer signing, Vincent Kompany’s first Burnley signing, but injury prevented him from playing, other than a short substitute appearance at Huddersfield in the opening game, until December. Fit now, besides Millwall, he started both of the games against Ipswich in the last round and it’s a matter of wait and see whether he gets much game time tonight.

The three players missing through injury last Saturday – Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Manuel Benson and Jay Rodriguez – remain out while Ian Maatsen is likely to have joined them with the shoulder injury he sustained in the Huddersfield win. Jack Cork is also unavailable having picked up yellow cards in each of the two games against Ipswich resulting in a one game FA Cup suspension.

Kompany will almost certainly make changes from that team with another league game to come this Saturday at Blackpool, but we’ll have to wait until an hour before kick off to learn the starting eleven.

Sixty-one years since we last played in a final and it’s forty-nine years since our last semi-final. It would be nice to knock at least one of those on the head, but tonight’s game will be a tough one as we look to reach round six for the first time since 2003.

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