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When Kevin Long was sent off with less than half an hour gone this afternoon against Watford in the Premier League Cup, I thought, despite the fact that we were 1-0 up, we were in for a tough last hour.

It didn’t prove to be the case at all as Burnley, certainly in the second half, got better and better and at no point after the interval did you ever think we were a man down. It really was an outstanding performance from a young Burnley side, boosted by one or two of the first team squad and they can’t have failed to have impressed the watching Sean Dyche.

A first Burnley goal for Jimmy Dunne
A first Burnley goal for Jimmy Dunne

It had all started well for Burnley if not somewhat fortuitously. We won an early free kick just outside the box on the right hand side which was taken by Patrick Bamford. It deflected up off a defender for Jimmy Dunne to head goalwards although I don’t suspect he thought, any more than we did, that the ball would sneak through their defenders and goalkeeper and nestle in the net.

The game got a bit scrappy after that and there were a couple of occasions when we might have been pegged back, but overall it was pretty even stuff, that was until the red card. I felt Long was very unfortunate. He was clearly held by the Watford player but apparently the referee, who was as bizarre a referee as you are likely to come across, deemed it a shirt pull, gave Watford a free kick just outside the box and promptly showed Long a red card.

We shuffled without making a substitution. Arlen Birch switched from left-back to partner Dunne in the centre of defence, Ali Koiki, who had started on the left of midfield, moved to left-back, with Nashé Chakwana taking up Koiki’s position, leaving Patrick Bamford up front on his own in a 4-4-1 formation.

In truth, they didn’t really threaten us too much for the remainder of the first half, but it had, at times, looked a bit disjointed from us, and you sensed, with eleven against ten, Watford, under the charges of Harry Kewell and Hayden Mullins, would make the most of their one man advantage in the second half.

How wrong those thoughts were. We turned in an outstanding second half display and were the better side throughout. There were one or two dodgy moments but we were by far the better side and at no point did we ever look to be a man short.

And then, with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, we clinched it. It started with some superb work down the right from Brad Jackson and he crossed low for Bamford. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was hauled down by a defender. For a second it looked as though nothing was going to be given but then the referee, rightly, pointed to the spot.

and a first for Patrick Bamford
and a first for Patrick Bamford

I’m not really sure what the rules are now in terms of cards for such an offence, but the foul was quite deliberate from the Watford player and he was clearly preventing Bamford from getting in a shot. The verdict was a yellow card but Bamford stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to hammer the ball into the top corner.

We saw the game out with ease and might have even added to the tally, but at the final whistle there was some real enthusiasm from those in the stand, particularly after the second half showing which really was outstanding.

It’s now given us six more games as we move into the group stage of the competition. There are no confirmed dates, times over venues yet but the games will be played in the following order.

Blackburn (a)
Cardiff (h)
Sunderland (a)
Blackburn (h)
Cardiff (a)
Sunderland (h)

Today’s teams;

Burnley: Nick Pope, Jon Flanagan, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Arlen Birch, Brad Jackson (Robbie Leitch 86), Aiden O’Neill, Mark Howarth (Freddy Yao 54), Ali Koiki, Patrick Bamford, Nashé Chakwana (Dwight McNeil 81). Subs not used: Conor Mitchell, RJ Pingling.

Watford: Charlie Bannister, Andrew Eleftheriou, Brandon Mason, Carl Stewart, Max Ryan, Charlie Rowan, Rhyle Ovenden, Ashley Charles (Reece Stray 75), Ogo Obi (David Sesay 85), Michael Folivi, Ola Adeyemo (Harry Forster 75). Subs not used: Andrew Thomas, Louis Rogers.

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