Youths continue to chase a Merit League place

Last updated : 11 February 2003 By Peter Heywood

In an entertaining, even game played in difficult conditions, the Clarets fought back excellently from two goals down at halftime to lead 3-2, before that cruel equaliser added to the heartbreak of Monday night’s cup exit.

There was no sign of Craig Binnie, the 16 year-old Scot reported to have joined us on trial from Queen’s Park; however, the Clarets did field two 16 year-old English trialists, midfielder Ross Preston from Newcastle, and forward Mark Davison from Sunderland. Both did well, with Davison unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

The heroics of Monday took their toll on an already depleted squad, with Rhys Carpenter, Paul Scott and Neil Trotman joining the lengthy injury list. Stephen Richardson, rapidly becoming the youth team’s Mr Versatile, was moved into the back three, and a total of six schoolboys were included in the sixteen.

Burnley, in 3-5-2, lined up: James Salisbury; Stephen Richardson, Liam Eves (capt.), Ryan Townsend; Marc Pugh, Joel Pilkington (Pat McFadden 60), Richard Chaplow, Ross Preston, Tom Ince; Damien Hindle, Mark Davison. Subs not used: Robert Grimes, Michael Hale, Darryl Avery, Mark Rasmussen.

The overnight rapid thaw following the heavy frost of the past few days meant that the pitch was only just passed playable. Although very soft on top, the ground underneath was still frozen resulting in a slippery surface which made a passing game difficult. To their credit, both sides adapted well to the conditions and tried at all times to play good football.

Burnley started brightly and had Oldham pegged back in defence. However they failed to create any clear openings in this early spell and the Latics gradually forced their way into the game and went on to dominate most of the remainder of the half. A powerful Townsend header from a Chaplow corner almost gave the Clarets the lead though, before Oldham struck twice in quick succession just before halftime.

After 40 minutes Oldham broke quickly out of defence down the right. When the low cross was put in, the ball was cracked home from six yards giving Salty no chance. With the Clarets still reeling, the Latics struck again three minutes later. Salty elected to punch clear a cross. The ball fell to Ashley Winn twenty-five yards out. Controlling the ball well he sent a delightful chipped shot over the entire defence for 2-0.

Whatever Pash said at halftime did the trick as the Clarets were a transformed team in the second period. Immediately, they took the game to Oldham and within two minutes pulled a goal back. A fine move started by Chaplow saw Ince play in Hindle wide on the left. Damo seemed to take on half the defence before cutting inside and sending a powerful shot past the despairing goalie for 2-1 and game on.

The Clarets surged forward, and an equaliser seemed imminent. Chaplow, Hindle and Davison all went close, but the Latics held out. In fact, Salisbury was called upon on a couple of occasions to pull off good saves as Oldham threatened on the counterattack.

When young striker Pat McFadden (who had impressed on Monday night) replaced Joel on the hour, the Clarets moved to 3-4-3 in an all out attempt to get the equaliser. This duly arrived in the 72nd minute when Davison, chasing a through ball in the area, was brought down by the goalie. Penalty, and with regular spot kick taker Rasmussen on the line Damo, fancying his chances instead, did the honours, sending the goalie the wrong way.

The Clarets were now well in the ascendancy, and five minutes later made it 3-2 with a fine goal. Hindle broke away down the right, got to the by-line, and pulled back a perfect ball for Chaplow, on the eve of his eighteenth birthday, to pass the ball firmly into the net from fifteen yards.

The game was far from over though. Oldham rallied well and forced the Clarets back on the defensive. But just when it looked as though we had weathered the storm (both on, and as usual at Oldham, off the pitch), in the last minute an Oldham player went down in the area. With the linesman signalling a corner, the ref pointed straight to the spot to the dismay of the young Clarets. Harsh perhaps, but it had been a clumsy challenge. Salty guessed correctly, but the kick was well placed and gave him no chance.

Although the lads were downcast at the end at having only drawn after such a fine fightback, a 3-3 draw was probably a fair reflection on the overall game. Oldham were on top in the first half, Burnley in the second. Once again, the young Clarets showed great character in difficult circumstances, and remain well in the hunt for that third merit league place.

Youth Team Fixtures and Results