Blackpool 0-1 Burnley: Seasiders narrowly edged out against Premier League opponents in penultimate pre-season friendly
Blackpool were narrowly edged out by Premier League Burnley in their penultimate pre-season friendly of the summer.
Neil Critchley’s men put up a spirited fight against their top flight opponents, Jerry Yates squandering two priceless chances before the Clarets nicked it late on.
Defender Bobby Thomas was the man to win it for Sean Dyche’s side, heading home from a corner with 13 minutes remaining.
Regardless of the result, it was a great test for the Seasiders in what was a real step-up in quality from their previous friendlies against Southport, Accrington Stanley and Carlisle United.
CJ Hamilton was a constant threat down the left flank, while James Husband and Grant Ward had impressive 65-minute cameos.
Chris Maxwell was also kept busy throughout, forced into making three or four vital stops to keep Burnley at bay.
The men in tangerine now switch their focus to Saturday’s trip to Morecambe, which is their final friendly ahead of their Championship curtain raiser at Bristol City on Saturday, August 7.
The Seasiders were boosted by the return of a handful of first-teamers who were absent for the weekend win at Carlisle as a result of the recent Covid outbreak among the squad.
Daniel Grimshaw, Oliver Casey, Reece James, Cameron Antwi and Shayne Lavery all came back into the fold, a timely boost for Pool who were without 16 players at the weekend - although not all were Covid related.
The likes of Daniel Gretarsson (shoulder), Matty Virtue (ACL) and Gary Madine (groin) are still out injured, while Bez Lubala remains unavailable due to a mysterious ‘club matter’.
Keshi Anderson, meanwhile, missed out after taking a whack to his quad during Saturday’s friendly against Carlisle, while Marvin Ekpiteta was also missing.
Elsewhere, Teddy Howe and Joe Nuttall continue to be left out, while Stuart Moore, Jordan Thorniley, Kenny Dougall, Kevin Stewart and Josh Bowler all remain absent - with 13 first-teamers still out.
Neil Critchley handed a first start to summer recruit Richard Keogh, who partnered James Husband in the centre of defence in the absence of Ekpiteta.
Trialist Mitch Clark began the game at right-back, which saw Callum Connolly push into midfield alongside Grant Ward, with summer recruit Sonny Carey playing a little further ahead.
Youngster Tayt Trusty, who impressed at Brunton Park at the weekend, was named among the substitutes along with fellow youth-teamers Antwi, Brad Holmes and Ewan Bange.
Burnley, meanwhile, named a strong side full of top flight talent, handing a debut to summer signing Wayne Hennessey in goal.
The likes of Matt Lowton, Ben Mee, Jack Cork, Josh Brownhill, Dwight McNeil and Jay Rodriquez were also handed starts.
Despite the sparse-looking home stands, the Blackpool faithful still managed to create a good atmosphere early on - the North Stand in particular in fine voice.
The Seasiders were the first side to threaten, too, CJ Hamilton set free by James Husband down the left flank, only to see his eventual cross blocked and cleared to safety.
The Clarets, who are gearing up for their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League, then took the initiative.
Chris Maxwell was forced into two stops in quick succession, claiming well from Josh Brownhill’s rising volley before turning Lewis Richardson’s drive behind for a corner.
The Seasiders struggled to deal with the intensity of Burnley’s press early on, which forced them into making a series of mistakes.
Critchley’s men were given a big let-off on the 20th-minute mark, when Lewis Richardson stabbed wastefully wide after having the ball put on a plate for him from Rodriguez’s ball across the face of goal.
Maxwell was forced into another smart stop midway through the half, showing great reactions to turn a deflected effort around the post.
The Clarets remained very much in control of proceedings, but Pool were holding firm and defending well - happy to watch on as Dwight McNeil blazed high and wide from long-range.
Pool began to grow into the game towards the end of the half, as Burnley’s intensity levels dropped off a little.
It resulted in the hosts enjoying their first real spells of pressure and their first clear-cut chance of the evening, which they ought to have converted.
CJ Hamilton surged into space down the left, opting against shooting himself in favour of pulling the ball back into the path of Jerry Yates, whose first-time shot was straight at Hennessey.
Demetri Mitchell, the star of Blackpool’s pre-season so far, then tested Hennessy with a dipping effort which the Wales international did well to push away from goal.
Just as Pool were beginning to take control, Burnley issued a timely warning as McNeil flashed a low shot agonisingly wide of Maxwell’s far post.
Nevertheless, Critchley’s men were on top at this point and wasted another golden chance five minutes before the interval.
Yates was the guilty party again, firing wide from Sonny Carey’s lay-off after Hamilton had caused problems down the left flank once again.
The Seasiders emerged unchanged for the second-half, while Burnley made wholesale changes - seven in total - with the likes of James Tarkowski, Ashley Westwood and Ashley Barnes coming off the bench.
Sean Dyche’s men were denied an opener five minutes into the second period, Maxwell saving well from Rodriguez before trialist Mitch Clark produced a vital block to deny Jack Cork on the rebound.
The hosts responded with a good chance of their own as Sonny Carey saw a first-time effort sail agonisingly over the bar - Hamilton the creator once again.
Seconds later, Burnley had the ball in the back of the net as half-time sub Ashley Barnes forced the ball home from close range, only to see the linesman’s flag raised for offside.
Barnes only had himself to blame when he headed wide from close range from McNeil’s superb left-wing delivery.
As was the case against Carlisle on Saturday, Pool made a host of changes on the 65-minute mark.
Nine in total came on, which included Daniel Grimshaw, Reece James, Oliver Casey and Shayne Lavery. Trialist Mitch Clark and James Husband were the only two to survive.
As is often the case in these friendly encounters, the intensity dropped off after both sides made a raft of changes.
Burnley, who still had plenty of top flight talent on the pitch, briefly threatened through Erik Pieters, whose audacious effort with the outside of his left boot flew just wide of the upright.
The deadlock was finally broken with 13 minutes left on the clock and it was Premier League Burnley who got it.
Bobby Thomas towered highest from a deep corner to head back across goal, the ball beating everyone before settling in the far corner.
Pool rallied well, as substitute Oliver Sarkic saw a curling effort well blocked, but they were unable to find that all-important equaliser.
With five minutes remaining, Anthony Glennon was slid through on goal for the visitors but Clark, looking to impress on his trial, recovered superbly before producing an excellent sliding challenge.
A second goal would have been harsh on the Seasiders, who had competed admirably throughout against their higher-ranked opponents.
Blackpool: Maxwell (Grimshaw), Clark, Keogh (Casey), Husband, Garbutt (James), Connolly (Antwi), Ward (Trusty), Mitchell (Sarkic), Carey (Bange), Hamilton (Holmes), Yates (Lavery)
Burnley: Hennessey (Norris), Lowton (Bardsley), Mee (Pieters), Collins (Tarkowski), Taylor (Thomas), McNeil (Glennon), Gomez Mancini (Gudmondsson), Brownhill (Westwood), Cork (Nartey), Rodriguez (Harker), Richardson (Barnes)
Subs not used: Thompson
Referee: Michael Salisbury
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