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Our under-23s currently head the northern group of the Professional Development League and will be there until around 9 p.m. at least  while we wait for the Nottingham Forest v Wigan result this evening.

We eventually did all we could by beating Barnsley this afternoon at Curzon Ashton but there wouldn’t have been any good money going on the Clarets at half time as we trailed 1-0 after what could only be described as a very disappointing 45 minutes of football from us.

It all changed with a well finished but fortuitous equaliser from Lewis Richardson less than three minutes into a second half that was unrecognisable from the first and we won it with a second on the hour from the same player who finished off a superb move.

Two goals from Lewis Richardson won the game for the Clarets
Two goals from Lewis Richardson won the game for the Clarets

With Anthony Glennon, who was on duty with the first team at Leicester on Saturday, on the bench, midfielder Adam Phillips took the captain’s armband and behind him there was a rare appearance for Teddy Perkins who has been very much out in the cold and is currently out on loan at Ramsbottom. He was getting his first start for almost a year.

As was the case at Wigan last week, there was no Steve Stone in the dug out so again Andy Farrell was in charge, ably assisted by goalkeeping coach Craig Mawson, but they saw us start very slowly and concede a goal in only the seventh minute. Barnsley won a free kick on the left hand side which was taken by former Claret Jordan Barnett and his ball into the box was turned into his own goal by striker Rob Harker.

It didn’t spur is at all, there was no reaction in a first half that was a difficult watch. Barnsley were the better of the two sides but it was turgid stuff with only the bizarre interventions of the referee providing any entertainment. There were stoppages galore for injuries with Ryan Cooney looking certain to be withdrawn after receiving treatment, but not once did it ever look as though we might get ourselves back in it.

After around seven minutes of stoppage time, we trooped in at half time leaving us hoping that something might change before they came back out, and my word it did but it took a shocker of a decision from the assistant referee for us to get back into the contest less than three minutes into the second half.

We’ve lost the creative play of Ali Koiki since he dropped back into the left back position but he set this one up with a delightful through ball for Richardson to run on to. With no flag offered by the assistant, the 16-year-old took the ball in his stride and finished expertly into the corner but why on earth the flag didn’t go up I’ll never know. It was one of those where you suggest it was miles offside only to learn that you’ve got it wrong, but people far better positioned than myself have confirmed it was at least four to five yards offside and that’s one hell of an easy decision to get correct. But no flag meant goal and we were level.

It led to a much, much better second half with Josh Benson so often pulling the strings with some excellent midfield play. We were now dominating the game and it was no surprise when the second, and ultimately winning goal, came and what a good goal it was. It was the impressive Benson who sent Rob Harker away down the left and when he crossed low, Richardson was on his way to the edge of the six yard box to meet it and finish.

For much of the remainder of the game we were well on top and never looked as though we’d relinquish our lead although we no, to our cost, how often we have done this season in this league. Barnsley did give it a push in the closing minutes but there were no real scares with the defensive partnership of Perkins and Scott Wilson well in control.

That’s four wins and six draws now in the league this season. It really should be better than that but to be unbeaten at this stage is a real achievement. We won’t win so many games playing the way we did in the first half but that second half performance was worthy of winning the game and that’s how we need to play.

It’s Leeds next Monday before a return to Curzon Ashton in two weeks time.

The teams were;

Burnley: Lukas Jensen, Ryan Cooney, Teddy Perkins, Scott Wilson, Ali Koiki, Ne-Jai Tucker, Adam Phillips, Christian N’Guessan, Josh Benson, Lewis Richardson, Rob Harker. Subs not used: George McMahon, Anthony Glennon, Mace Goodridge, Tunde Bayode, Joel Mumbongo.

Barnsley: Josh Barnes, Jordan Helliwell, Rudi Pache (Harry Cagen 74), Sam Fielding, Jordan Barnett, Dylan Mottley-Henry, Callum Styles, Keziah Martin, Alex Wollerton, Tommy Willard, Chris Sang (Aiden Marsh 77). Subs not used: Archie Brown, Keaton Ward, Bradley Binns.

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