Terry Pashley’s young Clarets crashed out of the FA Youth Cup at the Etihad Stadium against the elite of Manchester City’s academy.
Despite long periods of valiant defending, Burnley’s youngsters could only hold out for 77 minutes before Marcos Lopes, who recently scored in the FA Cup proper against Watford, opened the scoring. The £2.4 million former Real Madrid starlet Jose Pozo sealed victory for the Citizens in front of just over 2,500 freezing fans to end any Burnley hopes of reaching the last eight, just over a month after their emphatic victory over City’s bitter rivals Manchester United.
The outcome could have been so different as the Clarets missed a superb chance with only a minute on the clock. Jason Gilchrist – the hero at Old Trafford – showed great awareness to pounce on to a poor pass and thread a ball through for Jamie Frost, who fired over the crossbar from 12 yards.
City’s first chance came through the impressive Pozo. He played a delightful ball into the Burnley box that Greg Leigh raced on to, only to drag his shot wide of the far post much to the relief of the Burnley faithful.
With City dominating possession they tested Callum Jakovlevs with a deflected shot that was well caught by the young keeper.
The Clarets were defending well and nearly took the lead when Luke Conlan threaded an exquisite reverse pass through to Gilchrist, his powerful low shot forced Ian Lawlor down to his right to deny Burnley.
Burnley maintained the pressure and once again it was Gilchrist in the thick of it, picking the ball up 20 yards from goal and fizzing in a shot that moved in the air, forcing Lawlor to parry back into his box with his defence on hand to clean up.
Referee Daniel Leeson, wearing all black that clashed with the dark blue away strip of the Clarets, brought the half to a close. You’d hope in these days of neon green, blue and yellow, that the referee would of choose a more appropriate strip for the evening.
City raced out of the blocks in the second half with a renewed vigour about their game. Olivier Ntcham worked his way into a dangerous position and brought a smart save from Jakovlevs, who parried his shot away for a corner.
This signalled the beginning of a prolonged period of pressure with a succession of corners putting the Burnley box under siege before Jakovlevs finally punched clear to relieve the danger.
Then, unlucky for some, 13 minutes from time the mustard finally came off the hot dog. City took what looked like a foul throw with the whole ball not looking like it had crossed the line. But for some reason the linesman didn’t see or perhaps care. The resulting ball fell to Lopes just inside the Burnley half who went all the way to score the opener with a good finish across the keeper.
You could see this hurt the lads. However, the Claret faithful rallied and cheered the boys on with the memory of Old Trafford still fresh in their minds.
It was not to be though and just over ten minutes later their cup dreams were finally over when Pozo scored with aplomb, curling the ball into the back of the net.
They nearly made it 3-0 two minutes in to added time when Lopes had one last crack but it was tipped over by yet another world-class save from Jakovlevs.
The final whistle signalled the end of this year’s cup adventure but there is the Lancashire Youth Cup to come yet and this performance showed the talent emerging in the academy.
Cameron Howieson had a good game in the engine room, as did Luke Daly. In fact, they all played superb. They have nothing to be ashamed of and can hold their heads high with what they have achieved. Most of them are first years and this bodes well. We really do have some true talent coming through the ranks. I just hope that they get the chance they deserve.
Manchester City 2-0 Burnley
Man of The Match: Callum Jakovlevs
Manchester City: Lawlor, Facey, Leigh, Evans, Plummer, Rekik, Bytyqi, Ntcham, Cole, Lopes, Pozo (Barker 88).
Subs: Bossaert, Gunn, Bryan, Celina
Burnley: Jakovlevs, Dummigan, Conlan, Lowe, Whitmore, Holt, Jackson (Galvin 87), Daly (Ly 81), Gilchrist, Howieson, Frost (Hill 81).
Subs: Mitchell, Ly, Bianga