Cup win for youngsters

Last updated : 11 April 2008 By Guest Reporter
James Craggs - scored the first goal
However in a rare show of footballing unity both clubs accepted the need to get the game played and hence at the eleventh hour the match was switched to Birkenhead. An early start then for the Clarets youngsters. Thankfully the surface at Ingelborough Park Training Ground was very good considering the recent rains and the match kicked off under sunny skies and certainly the most benign conditions of the week.

As ever at this level the start was fast and furious with no quarter either asked nor given. The game was well stretched from the outset which certainly suited the Burnley players with two wide players and an eagerness to use them wherever possible. The Clarets made an early breakthrough. A long speculative ball down the middle caused great confusion between the Tranmere centre half and goalkeeper. As both left the ball to each other, James Craggs gleefully accepted the present, nipped in between the uncertain opponents and passed the ball into an empty net.

Having established this valuable lead, the Clarets took the game by the scruff of the neck with the combative Alex-Ray Harvey shining in midfield along with his captain Adam Kay who orchestrated things and took charge of most dead ball situations. With the Tranmere defence struggling to contain the physically assertive Liam Newman and Craggs, the lead was extended in the 20th minute. A lovely exchange of slick passing carved the Rovers defence wide open and Newman drove the ball hard into the bottom of the net.

A Tranmere backlash was to be expected but in reality Burnley were the team continuing to impress. It therefore came as a surprise when the deficit was reduced only twelve minutes later. A ball more hopeful than incisive caused the Clarets centre halves to appear flat-footed. The Tranmere striker picked the ball up just inside the box and in attempting to round keeper Ritchie he was upended by the stopper's outstretched arm resulting in a clear penalty decision. Ritchie was sent the wrong way and once again it was game on. The remainder of the half was spent in a midfield battle with clear chances at a premium and defences certainly on top.

H.T Burnley 2 Tranmere R 1

Neither manager opted to make any changes during the interval hence it was little surprise that the game continued in the same vein early in the second half. Tranmere had clearly been wound up by coach Sean Garnett and challenges became more vigorous whilst never over-zealous. The midfield battle between Harvey and Tranmere's Beahan was a feature with the Burnley player's guile just outstripping the athleticism and physical attributes of his opponent. Burnley continued to use the outlet of the flanks to good effect although the delivery often failed to match expectations. With both teams now evenly matched yet chances still rare, certain players began to visibly tire and tackles became less well-timed. In the 65th minute Rovers' midfielder Wilson saw yellow after a late challenge in midfield that prevented a promising Clarets attack. Ten minutes later the all-action Beahan was finally cautioned after the latest in a series of recent foul challenges.

For all Tranmere's huffing and puffing the Clarets' central defensive partnership of Kudiersky and Lynch stood firm. So much so that whilst Tranmere had the majority of play Ritchie in the Burnley goal had little of note to do. Rovers made three substitutions in a last throw of the dice whilst Burnley relied solely on the replacement of Newman with Stott to shore up the midfield. Late on the only blot to Burnley's copybook occurred when Alex MacDonald was cautioned for failing to retreat at a free kick. The final whistle blew and coach Terry Pashley with assistant Andy Farrell were visibly well-pleased with their younger than average side's progression through to the semi-finals of the competition.

F.T Burnley 2 Tranmere 1

Team Stef Ritchie, Ben Hoskin, Thomas Bradley, Alex-Ray Harvey, Nik Kudiersky, Chris Lynch, Alex MacDonald, Adam Kay, Liam Newman (Dean Stott 80), James Craggs, Dil Chaggar.

Attendance 45 and a dog.