Development Squad make semi-finals of U21 Premier league Cup
Burnley needed extra time to overcome Exeter 3-2 in a thriller at St James’ Park and reach the semi-finals of the inaugural U21 Premier League Cup.
Two goals from Archie Love were both cancelled out in normal time before Nathan Lowe struck in the first minute of the added 30 to earn the Clarets youngsters a last-four tie away to Manchester City.
In his first game in charge of the Development Squad, Andy Farrell was forced to make changes to the usual line-up through international duty.
Full backs Kyle Brownhill and Jack Errington were given the nod, as did new professional Jamie Frost, with Luke Conlan, Cameron Dummigan and Cameron Howieson away on their travels
Exeter, meanwhile, showed why they had progressed to the last eight in the U21 Premier League Cup, naming 10 players in their starting line-up with first team experience this season.
The game started with very few opportunities and Burnley’s first chance of note fell to winger Luke Gallagher, who cut inside before unleashing a tame effort that was gathered by Grecians’ keeper Christy Pym.
Exeter’s first opportunity came in the twelfth minute as Gloucester loanee Jordan Tillson headed over from just four yards.
But Burnley struck first in the 23rd minute, somewhat against the run of play, as tricky winger Micah Evans showed a turn of pace to beat Moore-Taylor and pull a cross to the edge of the box for midfielder Love to find the bottom corner.
Straight from the re-start Burnley were on the attack again as Evans yet again troubled the Exeter defence to deliver a dangerous ball into the mixer and usually prolific striker Jason Gilchrist couldn’t steer his volley either side of Pym.
Following his hat-trick last week, Tom Anderson came close to putting his name on the scoresheet again just before the break, with a header that failed to work the busy Pym.
Exeter should have equalised on the hour mark as the ball fell to Tom Nichols but the striker volleyed way over the bar.
The equaliser was coming though as the pressure built, firstly as Nichols headed over and then Moore-Taylor guiding his header straight at Nizic.
And City finally found the equaliser in the 79th minute as the impressive David Wheeler went on a surging run before drilling across the six-yard box for Jimmy Keohane, who couldn’t miss.
Moments after Jamie Reid nearly turned the game on its head, Burnley looked to have won it three minutes from time as Archie Love let rip from 25-yards and saw his shot somehow squirm under Pym.
But there was still more drama, as a thunderbolt from Nichols found the top corner in the 91st minute to add to his five goals he has scored for the first-team this campaign and force extra-time.
And Farrell couldn’t have asked for a better response, as Burnley went into the additional period in some style.
Second half substitute Nathan Lowe immediately took the ball off Gilchrist and smashed the ball into the bottom corner from all of 25-yards.
Burnley’s hearts were again in their mouths with just 10 minutes to play as Aaron Dawson walked through the Clarets defence and saw his strike cannon out to safety off the post.
Then, with three minutes remaining, City appealed in vain for a penalty as Moore-Taylor, who appeared to go down too easily, was yellow-carded for simulation.
And that proved to be City’s last chance as Burnley held on to make the last four and a mouth-watering clash with Manchester City.
Burnley: Nizic, Errington, Coleman, Anderson, Brownhill (Azam 85), Hewitt, Love, Frost (Lowe 75), Evans, Gallagher (Jackson 85), Gilchrist.
Subs: Jakovlevs, Azam, Lowe, Jackson, Massanka.
Booked: Evans (59) Nizic (75) Coleman (105) Azam (117)
Exeter: Pym, Bennett, Moore-Taylor, Dawson, Reid (Jay 96), Nichols, Gosling, Keohane, Tillson, Grimes, Wheeler.
Subs: Hamon, Wannell, Jagger Cane, Jay, Chamberlain.
Exeter: Reid (94), Nichols (119)
Referee: Mr. D. Eaton.