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1718 burnley turf moor 01 1000x500We’re through to the fourth round of the FA Cup after a late, late penalty from substitute Chris Wood gave us a 1-0 win against Barnsley in yesterday’s third round tie at Turf Moor.

The fact that we actually got a penalty threw the media into a state of confusion. Sky Sports News reported that it was our first in 65 games, totally unaware that the long run without one is in the Premier League. Match of the Day hedged their bets by claiming it was our first at home this season but even that is not correct; Ashley Barnes scored in the Europa League win against Aberdeen.

Referee Simon Hooper pointed to the spot in the 90th minute when Matěj Vydra was felled in the box by Liam Lindsay and, after a wait of almost two minutes, Wood, who had come on as a substitute, hammered it into the bottom corner to take us through.

It brought an end to a game that had hardly hit the heights but had enjoyed its fair share of controversy with the use of VAR and had, thankfully, ensured it would be us holding number 24 in tomorrow’s draw.

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Cup games are not something Burnley fans rush to go and see these days. We don’t do particularly well in them and we’ve seen defeats to the likes of Port Vale, Accrington, Lincoln and most recently Burton in the last few years in either the FA or League Cup. Despite that record, Lincoln remain the only team to have beaten us in an FA Cup tie on the Turf since Arsenal did so eleven years ago.

That was back in the day when the team would have been virtually the same as it had been in the previous league game. Yesterday we made eight changes from the team that had won at Huddersfield and, if you look closely, you could argue a case for us having made eleven changes. All of the three players that remained played in different positions; James Tarkowski moved to right-back, Charlie Taylor pushed up to play on the left hand side of midfield with Dwight McNeil shifting across to the right.

Sean Dyche had a problem at right-back with both Phil Bardsley and Matt Lowton ruled out but there was some good news with three players all returning from injury. Nick Pope, out since dislocating a shoulder at Aberdeen in July, was in goal with Stephen Ward at left-back, his first game since the League Cup defeat at Burton. Add to that, Steven Defour was considered fit enough to make a return in the midfield.

With so many changes and so many of the players having had little football recently, it was hardly a recipe for flowing football and in that respect we weren’t disappointed. I had a concern that Barnsley, a team in form in League One, might take advantage of that but, in truth, they offered very little throughout the game and we were in control for most of it without ever looking as though we might take the game away from them.

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They gave it a bit of a go early in the game but that petered out and it was us who had the first real opportunity of the afternoon, or so we thought. Defour won the ball back for us in the centre circle, gave himself space and then played a delightful ball forward for Vydra who went down under a challenge from Dimi Cavaré.

Hooper had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but then he turned to VAR which not too quickly became farce. I spotted Hooper pointing to his ear so assumed he was discussing whether the decision was correct but once he had yellow carded Cavaré, that told me it had all been cleared.

He blew, Vydra started his run towards the ball only for Hooper to stop him and give Barnsley a free kick and rescind the yellow card. I’m not sure many in the ground had a clue what was happening but it seems an offside has been spotted but was it Vydra or Vokes? The Match of the Day pundits believed Vydra was onside having put their line across the pitch; Vokes surely couldn’t be given offside. Whether right or wrong, the whole process seemed an absolute nonsense to me and certainly hasn’t strengthened any argument that it is much of a step forward. Dyche is in favour, but I’ll take a lot more convincing.

The Barnsley fans love it though. Having thought they were about to go 1-0 down, they danced with delight at the decision while chanting V-A-R. They were celebrating again when they actually had the ball in the net through Cameron McGeehan. That one was rightly ruled out for offside and not long before half time, Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies tipped over a Kevin Long header and that was the closest we came.

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McNeil should have scored with a header right at the start of the second half but it went wide of the post. We had two more opportunities in the air with both Vokes and Vydra failing to hit the target while Vydra shot wide after taking another pass from Defour.

It was getting more and more frustrating but there was absolutely nothing coming from Barnsley now. They were no threat at all but as time went on it was looking less and less likely that we could get a winner.

We got to 85 minutes at 0-0 and then we started to give them opportunities by conceding free kicks on the edge of our own box. They had two good chances but, thankfully, failed to hit the target with each and as we moved into the 90th minute an Oakwell replay loomed.

Then, Wood, flicked on a ball for Vydra who again went down in the box. Again Hooper had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. This time Wood stepped up. Did we have to wait for VAR again? If so, there was no indication for those watching the game but there seemed to be a long delay before he was allowed to take it. He hammered it to the keeper’s right, giving him no chance at all.

It was all over, we were through to the next round and we will be ball 24 in tomorrow’s draw. It wasn’t the most exciting football match I’ve seen but it was a win, got us through to the next round, and it also gave game time to a number of players including the three coming back from injury.

So all in all, a positive day and now let’s hope for a good home time in round four.

The teams were;

Burnley: Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward (Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson 59), Dwight McNeil, Jeff Hendrick, Steven Defour (Jack Cork 78), Charlie Taylor, Matěj Vydra, Sam Vokes (Chris Wood 74. Subs not used: Joe Hart, Ben Mee, Ashley Westwood, Ashley Barnes.
Yellow Card: Kevin Long.

Barnsley: Adam Davies, Dimi Cavaré, Ethan Pinnock, Liam Lindsay, Ben Williams, Alex Mowatt, Cameron McGeehan, Mike-Steven Bähre (Kenny Dougall 83), Mamadou Thiam (George Moncur 77), Cauley Woodrow, Ryan Hedges (Kieffer Moore 63). Subs not used: Jake Greatorex, Adam Jackson, Victor Adeboyejo, Jacob Brown.
Yellow Card: Ben Williams.

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).

Attendance: 11,053.

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