Clarets' Youths stun United in Old Trafford thriller
Burnley boys became men in grand surroundings to stun mighty Manchester United at Old Trafford and reach the FA Youth Cup fourth round.
Jason Gilchrist’s fourth hat-trick of a remarkable season proved decisive in a thrilling tie that saw Burnley lead through Cameron Howieson's first half header, then twice fall behind and finally grab a stunning extra time winner.
The Clarets began last season’s FA Youth Cup adventure at Boston, a victory that was the catalyst for their remarkable run to the semi-finals, where Blackburn Rovers cruelly ended the dream.
This year, the contrast could not have been greater as they entered the cavernous ‘Theatre of Dreams’ to face the 10-time winners of the competition.
But Burnley proved themselves more than the match of the Reds to stir echoes of last season’s marvellous run.
Predictably, there was an early spell of pressure from the hosts, which Burnley survived with no great scares.
But in the 19th minute, after settling into the game, it was the Clarets who came close to breaking the deadlock.
Captain Howieson started the move with a driving run from his own half, and when Jamie Frost picked out Gilchrist with a terrific chip over the last defender, the unmarked striker’s control just let him down and keeper Pierluigi Gollini smothered the loose ball.
Eight minutes later, heroic defending showed the other side of Burnley’s game as a series of blocks denied three United players following a low cross from right back Donald Love, younger brother of young Burnley midfielder Archie.
Jack Barmby, son of former England striker Nick, had United’s first real chance of the night 10 minutes before the break, heading onto the roof of the net from Love’s clever chip.
But almost immediately the Clarets stunned the hosts by grabbing the lead.
Luke Conlan’s persistence in chasing a lost cause earned a free kick near the left corner flag and when Nathan Lowe drilled the resulting free kick to the near post, Howieson lost his marker to bullet a header past a startled Gollini.
The task then would have been to get to half time with the lead intact, but within seconds of the extra one minute being signalled at the end of the half, United were level.
James Weir started and ended the classy move, exchanging passes and latching onto a back-hell before sliding the ball under Callum Jakovlevs with virtually the last kick of the half.
United buoyed by that lifeline, started the second half on the front foot, but nobody could have predicted the drama that would follow.
United lit the blue touchpaper in the 64th minute when they went ahead despite the Clarets valiant attempts to hold back the red tide.
Jakovlevs punched clear a corner and Charlie Holt headed the returning shot off the line, but only to centre back Nicholas Ioannou, who rifled home the loose ball.
However, the pendulum immediately swung back Burnley’s way as Terry Pashley’s never-say-die side restored parity.
Manchester United fan Jason Gilchrist had said before the game he wouldn’t know what to do if he scored!
But the celebrations were wild as he latched onto a through ball and bundled the ball home at the second attempt after his initial shot had looped high into night sky following Gollini’s save.
Having dragged themselves level, it took just five minutes for United to again grab the initiative.
The Clarets failed to clear a free kick from the left and when the ball fell invitingly to Love on the edge of the area, he drilled a fierce low drive past Jakovlevs.
That might have been it for lesser teams, but dramatically Burnley were level once more with 10 minutes remaining.
There appeared little danger as Rowley passed the ball back to his keeper, but ever-alert Gilchrist raced to block the attempted clearance, then gleefully slotted the ball into the gaping goal from the right hand corner of the box.
United threw bodies forward in search of a late winner, but Jakovlevs safe hands ensured the tie went to extra time.
And three minutes into the extra period, the Clarets keeper was again in the right place to beat away Pearson’s drive from the corner of the box.
In keeping with the game, back came Burnley, and after finding space in midfield Howieson forced Gollini into a good save following a driving run.
Tired legs in both camps were now opening up the game at both ends, with players on both sides clearly struggling.
And with six minutes gone in the second period of extra time, it was the fresh legs of 15-year-old Burnley substitute Bradley Jackson that paid dividends, with a magnificent driving right-wing run and cross that picked out Gilchrist for the simplest of headers to complete his fourth treble of the season.
United were now desperate, but as they threw everything at Burnley, they found Jakovlevs’ unbeatable.
First the young keeper made a magnificent double save to protect the precious lead.
And from the last throw of the dice, Jakovlevs palmed another goalbound drive wide of the post to spark wild celebrations.
Manchester United: Gollini, Love, Rowley, Grimshaw, Ioannou (Dalley 78), Pearson, Barmby (Rudge 53),Weir, Wilson, Januzaj, Daehli.
Subs: Sutherland, Byrne, Gorre
BURNLEY: Jakovlevs, Dummigan, Conlan, Lowe, Whitmore, Holt, Daly (Galvin 110), Ly (Jackson 63), Gilchrist, Howieson, Frost (Hill 70).
Subs; Mitchell, Bianga