Pre-season Jaunt in Altrincham
Just like last season, Burnley got their pre-season schedule off to a flying start in Cheshire. Last year`s 4-2 win against Altrincham was followed up yesterday with another convincing victory for the Clarets against the Blue Square Bet North side. The score this time at Moss Lane was 4-1. This was a creditable performance by the Clarets although of course it would be foolish to read too much into it at such an early stage of the pre-season preparations. This was nothing more really than a 'cobweb remover` but it gave the chance for Eddie Howe to see how well all his players were coming along following their recent return to pre-season training.
As expected Eddie Howe decided to field two completely different teams in each half allowing a number of the Development squad players on the fringe of breaking into the first team to feature. Clarets fans would also get the chance to see all four of the new summer signings.
The team for the first half included new signings Jason Shackell, Luke O`Neill and Joseph Mills with Burnley fans having to wait for the start of the second half before they could get a glimpse of fourth new signing George Porter.
Eddie Howe had virtually a full strength squad to choose from but there were one or two notable omissions. Brian Jensen sat this one out and David Edgar, who had only just returned to pre-season training after vigorous international duty with Canada was also absent. Marvin Bartley had also been struggling with an ankle injury and has since been told to rest ahead of the new season. Rising star, Cameron Howieson is also currently on duty with the New Zealand Olympic team so he too was unavailable for selection.
The Team A line-up for the first half was as follows:
Grant, O'Neill, Mills, Long, Shackell, McCann, Wallace, Hewitt, Jackson, Paterson, Stanislas.
The first surprise for Clarets fans was to see Jason Shackell lead the team out wearing the captain`s armband despite last season`s skipper, Chris McCann in the starting eleven. Was this a sign of things to come? Well yes it was with the club announcing last night that Shackell had been appointed official team captain ahead of the new season.
This by general consensus has gone down well with Clarets fans who sensed McCann struggled last season with the burden of responsibility seemingly affecting his game.
As if by magic the theory seemed to be proved almost immediately with McCann looking sharp as the Clarets put the Alty defence under considerable pressure in the opening few minutes of the game. McCann looking determined to prove a point then put the Clarets ahead with the game just 13 minutes old. Jackson found McCann ideally placed following a deft step-over by Stanislas. Looking up the Dubliner celebrating his 25th birthday saw an opportunity to score and drilled a left footed shot from the edge of the box inside the near post to put the Clarets 1-0 up.
Burnley now began to completely dominate the game and had numerous chances to increase their lead but there was certainly no need to break sweat with the game as expected being played at a training ground tempo. Altrincham simply could not get into the game and their one and only chance of the half came in the 41st minute when a pile-driver from Duncan Watmore cannoned off the inside of the post, with Lee Grant well beaten.
Despite the best efforts of Martin Paterson ably supported by young gun striker, Joe Jackson the score stubbornly remained 1-0 at half-time despite the Clarets being in complete control.
It was all change for the start of the second-half with Team B now taking the field for the Clarets. Team B looked like this:
Stewart, Trippier, Duff, Mee, Lafferty, Porter, Marney, MacDonald, Treacy, Ings, Austin
Clarets fans were only just getting used to the new line-up when within 5 minutes Burnley suddenly found themselves 3-0 up!
Danny Ings was the first to impress after picking up the ball from Trippier. Showing great pace and agility he charged into the box giving short shrift to all the defenders around him and then clamly slotted home with the keeper stranded to make it 2-0 in the 48th minute.
Just three minutes later it was effectively game over for Altrincham as the Clarets increased their lead even further to make it 3-0. Lafferty squared the ball in to Austin who thumped the ball past Reid from 12 yards out.
The Clarets were now in total control and the slow pace only aided Burnley`s domination but Alty to give them their due suddenly had a little spell of their own and managed to reduce the arrears thanks to a costly blunder by Jon Stewart after he failed to collect the ball from a corner. Altrincham defender, James McCartan pounced to side foot the ball home from close range in the 67th minute. Alty suddenly sensed they might be on a roll especially when they had a goal disallowed a few minutes later. Simon Richman thumped a close-range effort into the back of the net but the linesman raised a flag for offside. James Lawrie then flashed an effort wide from distance,
Burnley though soon began to take control again and Alty`s keeper Reid was kept on his toes in the closing few minutes of the game. A shot by Porter looked like it was heading for the top corner of the net before the keeper turned the ball round the angle. Austin then put his header wide of the post as the Clarets once again began to turn the screw. In the final minute the sustained pressure paid off and Austin headed home following a precision cross from Keith Treacy.
In the end then a routine game for the Clarets and one they won convincingly without having to over-exert themselves. There were though a lot of positives to take from the game and hopefully this will continue in their next pre-season match. The Clarets now head to Gigg Lane to face Bury on Tuesday evening.