It was, above all else, that opportunity for Dyche to give as many players as possible some game time and he took that opportunity against an Accrington team who were certainly very much up for the game.
|Peel Park over half a century since it last staged league football|
Having not travelled to Austria, this was my first game watching our first team since Reading at the end of last season and our short journey to Accrington was via a pub stop and a nostalgic visit to the old Peel Park ground where Accrington Stanley played their games before dropping out of the Football League in 1962.
We arrived at the ground in good time to find that they'd completely sold out of programmes, programmes that I have to say listed players such as David Edgar, Brian Stock and Keith Treacy in our squad. The good news is that after some phone calls we were able to acquire the copies we needed before taking our place on the open end.
Incredibly, despite more visits to the Crown Ground than I'd care to mention, it is an area of the ground I've never watched a game from previously, but I'm sure it isn't always as it was yesterday.
"I like it hot, but not this hot," jokes Peter Kay and I have to say that standing there for a couple of hours was definitely not what I have become accustomed to on that ground where too often I've shivered through a reserve game huddled up at the back of the main stand.
The players were warming up when we took our places. Even without the services of Tom Heaton, Ross Wallace, Sam Vokes, Steven Reid, Michael Kightly and Ashley Barnes there were still a lot of players out on the pitch.
|Jason Gilchrist scored the winner|
Out there were Tom Anderson, Jason Gilchrist and Steven Hewitt, all of whom were on the trip to Austria. Cameron Dummigan, also on the trip, was ruled out but those young pros were joined by Jadan Hall, Cameron Howieson and Luke Conlan who the club confirmed in May had been released.
It was a mix and match affair. With all of Heaton, Kightly and Barnes ruled out there were eight of those who started at Reading available with Dyche opting to play five of them in the first half and the remaining three coming on at the start of the second half.
It was Stanley who had the first effort on goal, forcing Matt Gilks into an early save in what was his first start for the club, but it was generally a quiet affair in the hot sun with very little goalmouth action at either end.
Midway through the half we had the ball in the net only for an over alert assistant referee to raise his flag for offside. Kieran Trippier's cross was met by Dean Marney. The midfielder saw his shot blocked by stand in goalkeeper Iain Turner who could only parry it to Danny Ings and last season's leading scorer made no mistake.
No goal, but Marvin Sordell came close to getting one before Marney really should have got one. He was played through and only had the goalkeeper to beat, but gave Turner no chance whatsoever as he missed target by some considerable distance.
Just before half time we made our first change with Conlan replacing Ben Mee who had come off as a precaution and just before half time there was a potential injury for Accy's Dean Winnard and one that the crowd enjoyed.
He got himself into position to block a Hall shot on the line, and block it he did, right between the legs.
I once recall Accy's own David 'Bumble' Lloyd being hit similarly in an Ashes test in Australia from a Jeff Thompson delivery. Bumble has since joked that he went down in instalments. Winnard went down, got up, went down again, got up again and then fell to the ground in a heap as the physio came running on to count what was left.
No score at half time but ten changes, including the departure of Conlan after just three minutes. The only player to remain was Hewitt and he went on to play 70 minutes before the one substitution during the second half saw him replaced by Nathan Lowe.
Before he departed, Hewitt played a big part in what we thought was the opener until again a flag went up. This one I'm told, from someone sat in a good position to see, was a very close decision indeed.
Hewitt, on the right hand side, played a delightful ball across goal for the onrushing Lukas Jutkiewicz to make no mistake, only for that flag to go up yet again.
But it was Hewitt's replacement Lowe who started the move for what proved to be the only goal of the game. He played the ball down the line for Scott Arfield, announced as the Burnley man of the match. Arfield got the better of a defender in the right hand corner, came in along the by line before pulling the ball back for Gilchrist.
The young striker took one touch with his right foot before placing a left foot shot into the corner of the net, his second goal in two pre-season games.
It was just three years ago last week that I first saw Gilchrist in action, making his youth team debut at a sun drenched Gawthorpe in a pre-season friendly. He scored two early goals prompting me to ask: "Who's this?" A man sat on a stool just to my right turned and replied: "Jason Gilchrist, he's my son."
He's been scoring goals ever since, including that hat trick at Old Trafford in the FA Youth Cup in December 2012, and whilst he's not going to be in the first team come next month for the Chelsea game he's certainly a player with an eye for goal and one who we need to keep an eye on.
We might have added another couple, and Accy forced their former goalkeeper Alex Cisak into a good save towards the end, but overall it was a good hard work out for us in front of a healthy crowd.
Below you will see I've used the figure of 1,539 Burnley supporters. That's the official figure but will surely be those who went in via the away turnstiles. We must be able to increase that total significantly if we were to count the Burnley supporters in the other areas of the ground.
We're off to Preston next, this Tuesday, and then, presumably, to Blackpool next Saturday should they be able to raise a team. It might be advisable for Dyche to take the same numbers again should they need to borrow anyone.
The teams yesterday were;
Accrington: Turner, Buxton, Liddle, Hunt, Atkinson, Winnard, Naismith, Windass, Gray, Bowerman, Mingoia. Subs: Wort, Aldred, Goulding, Jenkins, Ormerod, Martin, Clunan, Beverly, Simpson.
First Half: Matt Gilks, Kieran Trippier, Tom Anderson, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee (Luke Conlan 42), Jadan Hall, Dean Marney, Steven Hewitt, Matt Taylor, Marvin Sordell, Danny Ings.
Second Half: Alex Cisak, Luke O'Neill, Michael Duff, Kevin Long, Danny Lafferty, Cameron Howieson, Steven Hewitt (Nathan Lowe 70), David Jones, Scott Arfield, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Jason Gilchrist.
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).
Attendance: 3,145 (including 1,539 Clarets).