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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

2-3
27 July 2019 Venue The Johnny-Rocks Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

Cheltenham Town
2 - 3
Burnley Football Club

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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Cheltenham Town v Burnley U23s

Young Clarets face 'Football League' test against Michael Duff's Robins

27 July 2019

The Under-23s face their toughest pre-season test in a reunion with former boss Michael Duff on Saturday.

Turf Moor legend Duff left his job as Under-23s’ head coach last September to end a 14-year-association with the Clarets.

The former defender took on his first senior management post in charge of former club Cheltenham Town.

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And after successfully guiding the Robins to Football League safety and a 16th-place finish, Duff is gearing up for his first full season in charge with a closing pre-season friendly at home to the Clarets.

“Duffo was a really big part of the club here,” said Steve Stone, who took over from Duff last November.

“He did an excellent job with the Under-23s and obviously worked with a lot of these players.

“He has started really well at Cheltenham, so we know what a test it will be.

“But I’m looking for our lads to go and have a real experience of what League football is.

“That’s why we’ve done it. The games we’ve been playing have been a step up from last year and this is definitely a step up. It’s a huge step up.

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“We might not have a lot of the ball and let’s see what we have to do with the defending side of the game and on the counter-attack.

“It’s something we might have to do at times, and you have to learn. You have to be resilient and I sense it will be that type of game. But it’s a challenge we’ll relish.”

Cheltenham – who drew 2-2 at home to Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night following a 2-1 loss to Leicester City last weekend – open their League Two campaign away to newly-promoted Leyton Orient on Saturday-week and so are likely to be close to full strength as they fine-tune their preparations.

The Clarets have so far lost and won against BetVictor Premier League opposition during their preparations for the new Professional Development League campaign.

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Rob Harker scored the mid-week winner at Bamber Bridge

But having been without a couple of his ‘senior’ players, Stone is hoping reinforcements for the game at Whaddon Road (KO 3pm).   

“We’ve got a few injuries, because we’ve worked them hard, and I need to get a few players in, so getting a few back from the first team would be nice,” added the U23s’ boss.

“Hopefully I will get a few stronger ones and that will make it a more competitive game and that’s what I’m looking forward to.

“It’s been great the lads have gone up to the first team – Josh (Benson), Ali (Koiki) and Dunny (Jimmy Dunne). That’s a real positive, but I might need them back.”

Admission is payable on the day: adults £12 and concessions £6.

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Match Reports

REPORT: Cheltenham Town 2 Burnley U23s 3

Bobby Thomas header gives Clarets victory over former boss Michael Duff

27 July 2019

A Bobby Thomas winner gave Burnley a morale-boosting victory in their meeting with former boss Michael Duff.

Duff nurtured a number of the young Clarets during his time in charge of the Under-18 and Under-23s before ending his 14-years of outstanding service at Turf Moor last September.

Thomas wasn’t one of those as the 18-year-old came on board as a scholar just after Duff’s promotion to the older age group.

And the teenage defender continues to blossom under the guidance of Steve Stone – who filled Duff’s boots when the former playing favourite returned to former club Cheltenham for a first crack at senior management.

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And it was a typical Thomas header early in the second half that rewarded an increasingly assertive performance from Stone’s youngsters - aided by the return of Jimmy Dunne, Josh Benson and Ali Koiki after pre-season duties with the first team - who led three times before finally seeing it out to secure a notable result.

With the start of Cheltenham’s League Two campaign just a week away, Duff fielded close to his best available side.

Having cancelled a planned final friendly against Bristol Rovers – having drawn the Pirates in the opening round of the Carabao Cup – Duff’s men wanted a proper test.

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And despite being on the back foot for periods of the first half, the Clarets claimed two early goals to make it that way.

Stone’s side struck twice in the opening 12 minutes, both chances converted by trialists, the second after a powerful header by Dunne from a Josh Benson corner had been saved.

But neither time were they able to hold onto the lead as the veteran Luke Varney led the Robins' fightback.

The much-travelled striker – whose previous clubs include Crewe, Charlton, Portsmouth, Leeds and Blackburn Rovers – is now 36.

But his goals were integral in the successful fight against relegation inspired last season by Duff.

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And he showed all his predatory instincts by glancing in a Sean Long header at the near post and then getting in behind Burnley’s back four to coolly slot home and make it 2-2 with less than half an hour gone.

Despite the welcome presence of a calm and commanding Dunne, the Clarets were certainly tested defensively, with only brief respite coming from sporadic forays forward on the break.

But with Adam Legzdins getting down sharply to keep out a cross-shot from Varney and former Brighton midfielder Rohan Ince poking an effort just wide, Cheltenham were unable to make their possession pay with a third goal.

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And after the break it was a case of role reversal for the opening 25 minutes as much of the football was played in the Cheltenham half.

The Clarets were more progressive and forward-looking – helped by the growing influence of midfielder Benson – and six minutes into the second half regained their lead through another set-piece.

Benson’s delivery was again spot-on, this time from a free-kick, to pick out centre-back Thomas to score with a trademark powerful header.

That might have frustrated Duff, but the former Clarets’ defender did see his side create the chances to avoid signing off their warm-up programme with a defeat.

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Varney was close to completing a hat-trick with a header deflected just wide, while Ben Tozer and substitute Jake Gray both threatened the target.

Scott Wilson also had to clear off the line in the last minute as the visitors survived a goalmouth scramble.

But the Clarets had grown impressively in stature and confidence to get their noses back in front and this time keep them there with a measure of control.

And by refusing to relinquish their advantage again, Stone's charges had done enough to secure a victory that should stand them in good stead when the real thing starts at Professional Development League level – or when individuals head out on loan.

Cheltenham Town: Flinders; Long, Raglan (Horton 82), Tozer, Bowry; Broom (Gray 62), Ince, Clements Thomas 73), Boyle, Varney (Addai 82), Campbell (Smith 62). Substitutes: Brennan, Lovett. Substitutes: Lovett, Brennan.

Burnley: Legzdins; Cropper, Thomas, Dunne, Wilson; Trialist (Conn-Clarke 52), Trialist (N’Guessan 73), Benson, Koiki; Harker, Trialist (Richardson HT). Substitutes: Calderbank-Park, Senior, Steels, Harris.

Referee: John Busby

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