County fell to a first defeat of pre-season this afternoon, in a behind-closed-doors friendly against a strong Burnley U23s side.
Goals from Lewis Richardson, Owen Dodgson and Nathan Collins were proved to be too much for a spirited County side, despite equalising through Matt Lowton’s first-half own-goal.
Manager Simon Rusk opted to make ten changes to the side that won 5-0 at Guiseley on Saturday, with Tom Walker the only man to keep his place.
Alex Reid led the line with Walker and Ben Whitfield in support, whilst there was also a first start for Lewis Earl in midfield, with the Telford loanee made available ahead of his side’s season opener at the weekend.
County side: Hinchliffe; Trialist A; Palmer; Pye; Rydel; Earl; Keane; Newby; Whitfield; Walker; Reid.
A Burnley side including first-team players Will Norris, Aaron Lennon, Matt Lowton, Matej Vydra and Collins, their Summer signing from Stoke City, settled into the game the quicker, but it was County who created the first big chance of the game – Elliot Newby cutting the ball back form Tom Walker, whose first time effort cannoned off the top of the crossbar and over.
Just a few moments later and County were made to pay for that miss as Burnley took the lead, Richardson checking inside his marker before firing past Hinchliffe and into the far corner from a tight angle – the first goal County have conceded in pre-season.
County’s response was good, Ben Whitfield forcing the ‘keeper into action with a swerving shot from distance, before Newby saw an effort well held after being found inside the box.
The pressure was mounting, and County duly got the equaliser they deserved on twenty minutes, after another slick move ended with Tom Walker’s in-swinging cross being headed into his own net by Lowton.
Just three minutes later and County were so nearly celebrating another, Whitfield again finding Newby unmarked in the middle, but he slotted his effort inches wide of the post.
Just as we looked to be hitting our stride, Burnley struck again against the run of play when a ball in from the right-hand side was expertly volleyed home first-time by Owen Dodgson, via the inside of the post.
Not deterred by that setback, the Hatters continued to push; the impressive Lewis Earl forcing Norris into another fine save with a well struck volley from the edge of the box, before from the resulting corner Ash Palmer headed narrowly wide at the back post. The home side almost got a killer third on the stroke of half-time as Vydra was superbly found through the middle, but Hinchliffe was quick off his line to take the ball off Czech Republic international’s toes.
Half-time: Burnley U23s 2-1 County
After a cagey start to the second-half, it was Burnley who struck a decisive third on 55 minutes, Nathan Collins rising highest to meet Aaron Lennon’s corner and steer a header past Hinchliffe.
The home side were purring at this point, and Ryan Rydel had to be alert to dispossess Aaron Lennon as the former England international burst into the penalty area. Alex Reid led the charge for a route back into the game up the other end, and he had a sight of goal after running in behind the Burnley back line, but Collins recovered well to get his body across, and the chance was gone.
It was the Clarets who continued to look the more likely to score in the second-half however, buoyed by that third goal, with Ethan Pye producing two superb blocks to deny first Richardson, and then Lennon from close range. Hinchliffe was called into action once more before the end, producing a brilliant reflex save to keep out Matej Vydra’s snapshot in the final few moments.
Full-time: Burnley U23s 3-1 County (Richardson, 12′; Dodgson, 32′; Collins, 55′ – Lowton (O.G.), 20′).
County wrap up pre-season this Saturday, as we take on a Fleetwood Town XI on a family fun day special at Edgeley Park. For more information, and to buy a ticket for the game and event, click here.
Photographer: Mike Petch