U23 REPORT: Burnley 2 Aston Villa 2
Mumbongo strikes late to stop losing run and earn Clarets deserved reward
An injury-time equaliser from substitute Joel Mumbongo earned the Clarets a fitting reward as they ended a run of three successive defeats in gutsy fashion.
Another loss would have been harsh on Steve Stone’s men, who looked as though scoring once past former Clarets captain Tom Heaton would not be enough.
Heaton played for just over an hour in his first game back since New Year's Day after recovering from the knee injury he sustained playing for Villa at Turf Moor last season.
When his work was done the scores were level after a goal from one of two Burnley trialists had made it 1-1 at the break.
Villa then struck against the run of play with 15 minutes to go as though they looked to have pinched the points.
But three minutes into added time, the Clarets’ final push paid off when Mumbongo forced the ball home following a corner to make his first goal of the season count.
The Clarets were without recent signing Anthony Gomez Mancini welcomed back Josh Benson, Anthony Glennon and Bobby Thomas, with Rob Harker also returning to the starting line-up.
And the quartet made a big difference as the Clarets more than matched an impressive Villa side in an entertaining contest at the County Ground.
Burnley took their time to get going as Villa showed their potential in a lively start, although they were given a helping hand to opening the scoring after 10 minutes.
The visitors were a real threat on the break but a poor clearance from Marc Richter gifted possession to Carney Chukuemeka, who then fed Jaden Philogene-Bidace to lift the ball over the stranded Clarets’ keeper with a cool finish.
Richter made amends with a fine save from Tyreik Wright form another dangerous counter-attack.
And the Clarets should have been level when Harker teed up Lewis Richardson to drag a shot across Heaton’s goal.
But Burnley - needing a three-goal win to climb off the bottom of PL2 - were getting on top as they forced the Midlanders out of their stride and passed the ball well themselves.
And two minutes before half-time, Stone’s side did force the equaliser at the end of an excellent move.
The impressive Thomas strode forward from the back and following a one-two with Marcel Elva-Fountaine delivered the cross which the trialist converted at the second attempt after Heaton had saved his initial header.
The momentum was now with the Clarets, who continued to apply the pressure after the break.
Typically, Benson was involved with the next chance for the elusive Richardson, who again missed the target and the chance to get the goal his performance deserved.
Benson then sent another ball across the face of goal when any touch would have taken it in.
And the Clarets were then punished on the break again when Villa turned over possession and burst clear to go 2-1 up when Philogene-Bidace was released to square for Aaron Ramsey to slide the ball home. Villa had chances to add to their lead as the Clarets looked to have given their all.
But Richter saved from Kaine Kesler and former Barcelona youngster Louie Barry.
And with Villa not killing the game off, the Clarets rallied for a big finish which paid dividends when Thomas kept the ball alive for Harker to square and Mumbongo to provide the decisive touch from virtually on the goalline.
Burnley: Richter; Elva-Fountaine, Thomas, Trialist, Glennon; Benson, Tucker (Diallo 72); Thompson (Mumbongo 61), Richardson, Trialist; Harker. Substitutes: Thomas, Barrett, Brennan.
Aston Villa: Heaton (Onodi 62); Burton, D Revan, Bridge, S Revan; Wright (Kesler 51), Sylla (Bogarde 72), Chukuemeka, Philogene-Bidace; Barry, Ramsey. Substitutes: Tait, Farr.
Referee: Peter Gibbons