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Burnley beat Accrington 3-2 yesterday to bring the 2016/17 Youth Alliance League season to an end but, as expected, it wasn’t enough to prevent Blackpool winning the league with them beating Morecambe in their final game.

With work having started on the academy pitches, we were unsure as to where this game would be played. There had been suggestions that we might concede home advantage but it was Gawthorpe in the end on one of the new first team training pitches with a hastily organised spectator area provided alongside part of one touchline.

Two goals for Olatunde Bayode
Two goals for Olatunde Bayode

Michael Duff fielded a strong team with Tyler Shrimpton, one of the three players released, in the starting line up with another of the released players Billy Grogan on the bench alongside goalkeeper Adam Bruce who was named in the squad for the first time having spent his entire first season as a scholar recovering from a serious injury.

We made the best possible start. With only three minutes gone we took the lead when Shrimpton hit home from inside the box and it was 2-0 after 11 minutes when Olatunde Bayode scored from the penalty spot. It was a clear penalty as was one just a few minutes earlier which was strangely turned away.

Quite how it remained at 2-0 for the remainder of the first half is hard to fathom, but you have to say a very well done to the Accrington goalkeeper who was in excellent form alongside a defence who did get in some very good blocks as the young Clarets threatened to add further goals.

With news coming through from the Blackpool game that they were well in front having survived an early penalty which Morecambe failed to convert, it was just a matter of winning the game and ensuring we did finish second and just past the hour Bayode got his second and our third to put this game to bed.

It owed much to a superb ball from the impressive Dwight McNeil, threaded through the defence for Bayode who never looked as if he would miss, stroking the ball past the oncoming keeper.

The less than observant match officials missed two more clear penalties which would have taken us on to a big score but it didn’t seem to matter with a big win expected.

In the ten minutes after the third goal, Duff rang the changes making the five allowable substitutions. Like most leagues, it had been a maximum three but this season that’s been increased to five although this is the first time we’ve used the full quota.

Three minutes after the goal, Grogan came on for the injured Scott Wilson and on 67 minutes we saw a triple substitution. Tristan Jumeau replaced Bayode and the strike pair of Tommy Wood and Nashé Chakwana gave way to Harry Limb and Jordan Cropper. Four minutes later saw the introduction of Bruce in goal.

There should have been goals galore after that but we missed far too many opportunities. Had we not been so far in front it might have been concerned but we were cruising to a comfortable win, or so we thought.

On 89 minutes, Accrington pulled one back but it didn’t seem to matter other than the frustration of not keeping a clean sheet.

Two minutes into stoppage time they got down the right and won a free kick a few yards outside the penalty box. The taker fired the ball at the wall but it rebounded to him and he volleyed home a sensational goal which simply flew into the corner of the net.

It was 3-2 but there was no time to hang on as the final whistle went. Our best season in five years had ended in a win.

The team was: Connor King (Adam Bruce 71), Leighton Egan, Oliver Younger, Scott Wilson (Billy Grogan 64), Kwasinkosi Mpofu, Olatunde Bayode (Tristan Jumeau 67), Kian Yari, Tyler Shrimpton, Dwight McNeil, Tommy Wood (Jordan Cropper 67), Nashé Chakwana (Harry Limb 67).

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