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hednesford 1000x500The plans were all in place for the trip to Crystal Palace but I made a late change to take in our Premier League Cup game against West Brom on the Friday night and this was one decision I am delighted to have made.

In our first ever season in this competition six years ago we reached the semi-final only to go out against Manchester City in an outstanding game of football. This season it doesn’t look as though we are going to go through to the knock out stage and Liverpool’s draw this afternoon against Bournemouth has ensured we stay bottom of the four team group with us all having played three of our six games.

Our under-23s are having a very decent season, and we are certainly scoring our fair share of goals, but we had to go into this game without the services of central defender Oliver Younger, midfielders Mace Goodridge and Christian N’Guessan, and forward Tinashe Chakwana.

It was a strange looking line up with Dwight McNeil playing in a defensive position and the likes of Richard Taylor, the youth team centre half who is currently on a work experience loan at Colne, pushed into the midfield.

1819 burnley marley blair 00 500x500West Brom’s line up, it is far to say, was somewhat more experienced. They included six players who have featured in their first team this season, none more experienced than Bakary Sako, who earlier this year scored the winner against us for Crystal Palace, and right-back Tyrone Mears who spent his last year at Turf Moor claiming he was too good for the Championship.

It potentially looked something of a mismatch in terms of the level of experience but we never once let that concern us in what proved to be a terrific performance. We drew the game 2-2 but could so easily have won it although I do tend to agree with coach Steve Stone that a draw was perhaps the right result.

It took us a while to get going and the coach admitted that some of his players were surprised when they saw the Baggies’ team sheet, but we set the game alight with the opening goal in the 24th minute. McNeil was in superb form for much of this game and he was the architect although all the credit really has to go to Marley Blair. McNeil, captain on the night, played the ball out to Blair (pictured) who was playing on the left. He cut inside and hit a wonderful strike into the far corner leaving West Brom keeper Alex Palmer helpless.

Unfortunately, West Brom were level within five minutes. It was a really scrappy goal for us to concede. We had two or three opportunities to clear the ball from a corner, but having failed to do Rekeem Harper tucked the ball in from very close range.

Adam Legzdins kept the scores level just before half time when he denied former RB Leipzig winger Oliver Burke while we were so close to going in front again early in the second half when Josh Benson’s long range effort flew just over the bar.

We were, by now, much the better side, but West Brom went in front twenty minutes into the half with another close range effort from Daniel Meredith but it didn’t stop us in our tracks and we were deservedly level 13 minutes later when Mark Howarth played the ball through on the right hand side of goal for Dan Agyei. He made no mistake, drilling a shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.

It was game on now and we remained the better side and almost win it deep into stoppage time when Tunde Bayode broke clear only to see his shot go inches wide of the post.

It was a shame we couldn’t have won it because this, overall, was a terrific performance from our young players who seem to be getting better and better this season. It is sometimes a difficult task to try and get the upper hand against such an experienced team but we did that and did that well.

What a good decision it was to change my plans.

The teams were;

West Brom: Alex Palmer, Tyrone Mears, Nathan Ferguson, Kyle Howkins, Conor Townsend (Kevin Healy ht), Daniel Meredith, Rekeem Harper (Sam Wilding 82), Sam Field, Bakary Sako, Oliver Burke, Jonathan Leko. Subs not used : Jasmin Keranovic, Finn Azaz, Morgan Rogers.

Burnley: Adam Legzdins, Jordan Cropper, James Clarke, Anthony Glennon, Ali Koiki, Dwight McNeil, Tunde Bayode, Josh Benson, Richard Taylor (Mark Howarth 68), Marley Blair (Rob Harker 90+3), Dan Agyei. Subs not used: George McMahon, Ed Cook, Bobby Thomas.

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