Clarets Luke good as they progress to cup fourth round
BURNLEY came from behind to snatch a dramatic late victory over Sunderland and reach the national knock-out stages of the U21 Premier League Cup.
Luke Conlan smashed home a 90th minute winner against the higher ranked, Category One Academy side, who had led through an opportunist Craig Lynch strike.
Luke Gallagher cancelled out the Black Cats lead with a stunning leveller just after the hour mark.
And at the end of a thrilling second half, the Clarets mirrored their last minute winner at Crewe in round two as Northern Ireland U21 full back Conlan fired home from close range, after Kevin Long hit the crossbar.
Sunderland, coached by former Claret Kevin Ball, started the game well and Lynch had already wasted a first minute chance when he gave the visitors the lead in the ninth minute.
Conlan attempted a back pass from the right touchline that was never likely to reach its intended destination of Alex Cisak and the Black Cats striker pounced, slotting the ball home from eight yards.
Burnley responded by carving out a clear opening nine minutes later as Jamie Frost, who had earlier flashed a shot into the side netting, composed himself and forced a fine sprawling save from Sunderland stopper Joel Dixon.
But it took an even better save midway through the half from Cisak to deny El Hadji Ba a second for the visitors.
Slick passing led to the French youth international half-volleying a goalbound drive towards the bottom corner, only for the Clarets’ keeper to fling himself to his left and make a fantastic full-length parry.
The pace continued unabated throughout the half and the impressive Steven Hewitt had the last chance before the break as he forced Dixon into another fine, low save.
Ryan Noble had been out to impress against the club that released him, and the Clarets striker forced the first save of the second half with a long-range effort that Dixon was again equal to.
And as the young Clarets continued to press, Frost blazed over when a deflected right wing cross fell invitingly at the far post.
But the deserved equaliser finally arrived in the 66th minute, following another classy move.
This time Frost turned provider with a ball out to Gallagher, who cut inside from the left and unleashed an unstoppable, rising drive into the top corner.
Cameron Howieson’s audacious 35-yard screamer, from a training ground corner, then almost caught out a startled Dixon as Burnley now pressed for the winner in normal time.
As extra time loomed, the visitors were a whisker away from snatching it. Substitute Duncan Watmore’s angled drive looked destined for the bottom corner before Kevin Long stuck out a boot sand watched the ball thankfully whistle just past the post.
But the sting in the tail came from the Clarets right on the 90 minute mark.
Howieson hung up a deep corner that Long headed back off the face of the crossbar, where Conlan was waiting to rifle home the rebound off the inside of the post and win the tie.
Burnley: Cisak, Dummigan, Conlan, Howieson, Coleman, Long, Gilchrist, Hewitt, Noble, Frost, Gallagher.
Subs: Nizic, Errington, Brownhill, Daly, Hill.
Sunderland: Dixon, Laing, Ferguson, Cattermole, Egan, Harrison, Mavrias (Honeyman 85), Cabral, Lynch, Ba, Karlsson (Watmore 55).
Subs: Stryjek, McNamee, Agnew.
Referee: P. Graham