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It was another fantastic night to be in Manchester tonight as a Claret, this time watching the youth team win through to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a fully deserved 2-0 win against West Bromwich Albion.

On a cold night at Curzon Ashton, it took 78 minutes for the deadlock to be broken when midfielder Dylan Moonan (pictured) turned in a Cricky Conn-Clarke corner to give us the lead and that lead was doubled in the 89th minute through substitute Corey Brennan on what was an outstanding night for the young Clarets and for under-18 football.

There was a thought that we might not make kick off when news filtered through that there were major hold ups on the M66, but we diverted via Edenfield and Bury  which meant we were eventually able to get there in good time.

We were back where the cup run started. We’d beaten Curzon Ashton in the 3rd round before going on to win at Mansfield one round later. Tonight’s game was always expected to be tougher than that against a very good Category 1 Academy side in West Brom and it was.

There were no goals in what was generally an even first half. West Brom hit the bar with an early effort but it was end to end stuff with both teams coming close. As he’d done at Mansfield, Harry Allen made some very good saves but overall I thought we’d created the better chances in the first half and, although the 0-0 scoreline was a fair one, if anyone deserved to have got in front it was us.

The second half saw a similar pattern although, one little spell midway through the half apart, I did we think we were always looking the more likely and we did get the ball in the net midway through the half although the assistant’s flag had gone up before Matty Rain effort the second attempt crossed the line. We’d assumed an offside but the assistant himself confirmed that the goal had been ruled out because the ball had gone out of play prior to Rain getting in that second shot.

We’d just about seen off that Albion threat when finally we got one that counted and it was very first team style in that it came from a set piece. We won a corner on the left hand side which Conn-Clarke took. Moonan got onto it first to flick the ball into the far corner.

There were still twelve minutes left and I wondered just how much defending we might have to do to hold on to the lead. The answer was very little because we took the game to them. The Baggies’ keeper denied the impressive Joe McGlynn and then, on 89 minutes, we got our second.

Corey Brennan had only been on the pitch for three minutes but he more than made his mark. Rhys Fenlon, not for the first time, got clear of the West Brom defence with his pace. This time he got in a shot that came back off the post. He did ever so well to get back on the ball and this time set up Brennan to confirm the victory with our second. It was possibly Brennan’s first touch of the ball.

Brennan simply disappeared on the touchline. Team mates, substitutes and maybe others piled on top of him in a celebration that I haven’t seen bettered since Michael Keane equalised against Middlesbrough in 2016.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added but this Burnley team wasn’t letting go of this one and what a reception they received from the crowd at the final whistle. Tony Philliskirk said: “I’m really proud. It’s a fantastic achievement against a very well established and successful category one team.”

He’s every right to be proud and all those of us who were watching, and that includes Sean Dyche and his staff, will have left Curzon Ashton equally proud of our team tonight. It really had been a terrific performance in what was such an enjoyable game of football that was a real credit to both teams.

It’s an even tougher one now in the next round with a trip to Manchester City or Fulham. We’ll know a week on Thursday where we are going.

Well done lads – enjoy tonight because you fully deserve to.

The teams were;

Burnley: Harry Allen, Kane Patterson, Jake Rooney, Edon Pruti, Matty Rain, Rhys Fenlon, Dylan Moonan, Ben Woods, Cricky Conn-Clarke (Corey Brennan 86), Max Thompson (Mitch George 74), Joe McGlynn (Michael Mellon 90+2). Subs not used: Sam Waller, Udoka Chima, Joel Connolly, Finn Armstrong.

West Brom: Josh Griffiths, Ethan Ingram, Caleb Taylor, Harry Williams, Zak Delaney, Tom Fellows (Taylor Gardner-Hickman ht), Toby King (Rico Richards 82), Jamie Andrews, Alex Gilbert, Jacob Wakeling, Finlay Thorndike (Moudou Faal 85), Subs not used: Jamie Emery, Zac Ashworth, Aurio Teixera, Tim Iroegbunam.

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