Clarets avoid cock up in COCUP

Last updated : 29 August 2012 By Tony Scholes

The heroics of Brian Jensen, who made three saves, coupled with scoring three of our five penalties was just enough to see us go through after yet another late goal, just as was the case twice last season in this competition, prevented us winning it in normal time.

Brian Jensen, penalty shoot out hero yet again

We'd only scored one of our first three penalties, with a Sam Vokes success sandwiched between misses from Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas, but youngster Steven Hewitt and then Brian Stock stepped up to the plate to ensure our passage through on a night when there were so many defeats for Championship clubs, notably at Crawley and MK Franchise.

Ahead of the game, Eddie Howe had stressed the importance of winning the game but said he might make changes. "We may well rotate our squad as well and have a look at a couple of other players, so it's a good chance for them to step up to the plate."

I'd expected more than a couple of changes but was surprised when the team news came through to learn that only Charlie Austin had been included from the team that had started the league game at Huddersfield last Saturday.

That meant a Burnley debut for Luke O'Neill, a first start in the first team for Steven Hewitt and opportunities for several other players.

We started brightly but the only real sight of goal came from an Alex MacDonald free kick that went straight into the hands of goalkeeper Jake Cole. We were the better side but in truth struggled to create many opportunities and Plymouth were beginning to look comfortable although they weren't troubling us at all.

It all changed from the trusted source some eight minutes before half time. Marvin Bartley got down the right and his cross was met by Charlie Austin who headed home for his fourth goal in five games this season.

It's an impressive start from Austin who has just virtually carried on from where he left off last season, and it is proving vital for the Clarets right now who are struggling to get fit forwards on the pitch.

For the next few minutes we got some urgency into our play that had previously been lacking. Another goal during this period would have put the game to bed. It didn't come and when referee Andy Madley blew the half time whistle it was just a one goal lead we took in with us.

We made a change ahead of the second half. Keith Treacy was taken off and replaced by Ross Wallace with Howe pointedly confirming after the game that Treacy had not picked up an injury.

Another change soon followed. Austin picked up a most undeserved yellow card. Madley had a decent game overall but he got this decision very wrong. Howe immediately made the decision to bring him off and three minutes after the card he was replaced by Sam Vokes.

For the remainder of the half we barely threatened but with the insurance that Plymouth never really looked likely to get themselves back into it. That was until the 90th minutes.

Burton did it last season; Barnet did it to us last season and now Plymouth repeated it with a late equaliser to take the game into extra time. Last season they were both from free kicks but this time it was a penalty and there could be absolutely no complaints after Vokes pushed Paris Cowan-Hall giving the referee the simplest of tasks to point to the spot.

If I joked about beating Robbie Williams' club Port Vale in the last round then his namesake got his own back by placing the penalty beyond Brian Jensen to the goalkeeper's right. It wouldn't be the last penalty Jensen would concede on the night but by the end he was going to be the hero again.

Burnley pushed for a winner in the five minutes of stoppage time, but it was not to be and with my last bus set to leave the bus station the game was going into extra time.

I don't recall Plymouth threatening us at all in the extra half hour, but in truth there wasn't too much to get excited about at the other end. Danny Lafferty headed over and that was about it other than us finishing with ten men when MacDonald went off with a groin injury. So penalties it was.

A regular debate amongst Burnley fans is that between the merits of Lee Grant and Brian Jensen in goal. As the two goalkeepers made their way to the cricket field end last night I have to say I was delighted to see Jensen.

Since joining the club he has four times been in goal for penalty shoot outs before last night. All four of them have been in this competition and all four have been won. There was Chesterfield in 2003/04, Wolves in the following season (the last time we faced a shoot out at home), Grimsby in 2007/08 and finally, memorably, the Chelsea win in 2008/09.

He's played a big part in them all and here he was doing it all again.

Williams, already having converted his penalty during the game, went first but Jensen saved to his right. That was followed by Cole saving easily from Wallace. 0-0 after one penalty each.

Jensen repeated his heroics with a similar save to deny Luke Young and then Vokes scored to give Burnley a 1-0 lead after two penalties.

Plymouth then came back. Substitute Matt Lecointe sent Jensen the wrong way before Junior Stanislas, who had come on for Marvin Bartley, gave us a stop start run up before finding one of the rows of seats in the stand. So, 1-1 after three penalties.

It was Jensen's turn again, saving a third to deny Conor Hourihane before Hewitt took responsibility. The youngster has taken penalties for our junior teams and he showed just why, confidently scoring with probably the best penalty of the night. Back in front at 2-1 with one penalty to go.

Plymouth scored through Maxime Blanchard which left Brian Stock needing to score to win it for us. He did, we were through, we are in Thursday's draw. But it was another performance t hat posed far more questions than provided answers.

The teams were;

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Luke O'Neill, Michael Duff, Ben Mee, Danny Lafferty, Brian Stock, Marvin Bartley (Junior Stanislas 98), Steven Hewitt, Alex MacDonald, Charlie Austin (Sam Vokes 54), Keith Treacy (Ross Wallace 45). Subs not used: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, David Edgar, Chris McCann.
Yellow Cards: Charlie Austin, Marvin Bartley.

Plymouth: Jake Cole, Durrell Berry, Curtis Nelson, Maxime Blanchard, Robbie Williams, Paris Cowan-Hall, Conor Hourihane, Jared Sims (Joe Lennox 67), Luke Young, Johnny Gorman (Onismor Bhasera 67), Nick Chadwick (Matt Lecointe 55). Subs not used: Ollie Chenoweth, Andres Gurrieri, Jamie Richards, Warren Feeney.
Yellow Cards: Conor Hourihane, Joe Lennox, Robbie Williams.

Referee: Andy Madley (Wakefield).

Attendance: 4,119.