Superb youth team see off Fulham
I so wanted to mention earlier today that no Fulham side has ever won at Turf Moor since 1951, and that was even before I was born. In 25 visits since at first team level we have beaten them 22 times and drawn the other three. I resisted the temptation; I didn’t want to tempt fate.
It was always going to be a tough night against a side that were older than us, and as expected were bigger than us, and as we soon found out were quicker than us. It didn’t help that we weren’t at full strength, but you would never have noticed.
In the opening exchanges we soon saw what the visitors were capable of up front as they twice got through with incredible pace and that was always likely to be a problem. But we got on with our game, we passed the ball well and played much the better football.
We did have a scare when, from a very harshly awarded free kick, Fulham hit the bar and we were thankful as the rebound dropped nicely for keeper Matthew Mann. They weren’t to come as close again during the first half but at the other end the visiting keeper had to be at his best to deny Ali Akbar who cut in from the right and hit an excellent left foot shot that looked as though it was destined for the corner.
Midway through the first half we were forced into a change with Jack Overson struggling with an arm injury and this brought Centre of Excellence player Raphael Evans onto the pitch and he slotted in at the back.
It was goalless at half time and there’s no doubt at all that we deserved to be level, but if that was enjoyable the second half was to get even better and we made the best start possible as referee Richardson pointed to the spot with just four minutes gone.
It was Rob Turner, another Centre of Excellence player, who was fouled in the box but it looked a very harsh decision against the Fulham defender. That wasn’t going to bother Jay Rodriguez who stepped up to take the spot kick and stroked it home as calm as you like.
Fulham looked rattled, both on the pitch and on the bench. They stepped it up but were not getting any joy out of a resolute Burnley back four. They made three substitutions but nothing changed.
I remember looking at my watch and there were fifteen minutes left. I thought we looked comfortable enough but there’s no doubt we were tiring against the stronger opposition. Then disaster struck as Fulham drew level. It was a good goal and it definitely lifted them. They pushed for a winner but we nearly got one at the other end as Turner got through on the break and put a good shot just over the bar.
Into stoppage time and it looked as though extra time was beckoning but there was to be one last push from the Clarets. We got the ball out to the right, back inside and then out to Rodriguez on the left. His cross was met by Cayne Hanley and he found Connor Smith who scored from close range.
Surely there was no way back for Fulham but they had one last effort but Mann got down well to hold the ball and after what seemed an age the final whistle finally came. The lads on the pitch found just enough extra energy to celebrate and take the superb ovation they got from the crowd in the Bob Lord Stand.
They had all done us so proud, they had given just about everything for us and deserved everything they got. Picking a man of the match seems almost unfair, they all deserve it, but I’m going to go for right back Rob Henry who played as well as I’ve ever seen him play.
But this was no one man show, each and everyone of them can take a bow after this performance. There cannot be a Burnley supporter there tonight who will not want to come back for the next, and potentially even more difficult, game in the next round against Liverpool or Ipswich.
Well done lads, it really has been a fantastic night.
The teams were,
Burnley: Matthew Mann, Rob Henry, Jack Overson (Raphael Evans 25), Tom Blackler, Paul Casey, Ali Akbar, Connor Smith, Nicky Platt (captain), Jay Rodriguez, Rob Turner, Cayne Hanley. Subs not used: Dale Underwood, Michael Donlan, Dean Stott, Ashley Young.
Fulham: Corrin Brooks-Meade, Elliott Omozusi, Joe Anderson (L Gonclaves 71), Kazeem Orelaja (A Miguil 56), Tom Moncur (captain), Adam Watts, Andrew Ottley L Hall 59), Wayne Brown, Saheed Sankoh, Bradley Hudson-Odoi, Yinka Casal. Subs not used: J Gowland, M Noble.