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Townson Proud Of Youths' Character

Clarets' assistant boss disappointed with first red card in FA Youth Cup defeat

12 December 2018

John Townson praised the character of his players after the Clarets’ FA Youth Cup bid foundered at the first hurdle at Turf Moor.

Burnley went out 3-2 on penalties as Oxford United came from behind to set up a third-round win and a home tie against either Bournemouth or Mansfield Town.

The Clarets played the final nine minutes of normal time with 10 men after Bobby Thomas was sent off.

And they then went down to nine when defensive partner Edon Pruti was dismissed early in the second half of extra time for handling a goalbound header from Oxford’s Harry Sampford.

“You can’t fault the lads for the effort and the character they showed,” said Townson, taking charge for the last time before new Under-18s boss Tony Philliskirk assumes control.

“I thought they were magnificent. It’s hard enough with 10, but to do it with nine for 20 minutes or so was credit to them.

“I don’t think we played particularly well, particularly in the first half, but we didn’t really get the chance to play well in the second half with the decisions.

“It’s disappointing, but I’m proud of the lads’ character.

“You can’t play well every game, but what you can do is work hard every game and show that resilience, that fight and that character and they absolutely did that, so I was very proud of that.”

Burnley led early on through an opportunistic strike from captain Michael Fowler but Football League Youth Alliance South-West Conference leaders Oxford, who had beaten Hemel Hempstead and Barnet to get this far, equalised in the 81st-minute to make it 1-1 and force extra time and, ultimately, penalties.

Substitute Ryan Crooks’ goal sparked a melee in the Burnley goalmouth and Thomas, who had been one of the Clarets’ better performers, was sent off for shoving the Oxford goalscorer - who appeared lucky to avoid a similar fate.

“We think it’s quite harsh really. Their lad seemed to be in and around him and he’s just like shielded him off, but it’s a tough job refereeing,” added Townson, who will now revert to his role as assistant to Philliskirk as the Clarets head towards their mid-season fixture break.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and I think the lads have responded to me. I knew Tony from a few years ago when I took Accrington teams to Oldham and we will work together and do the best we can for this club.”

“Now’s the time we will probably learn the most, in adversity, and how they bounce back.

“We will certainly be looking for that when they’re back in on Thursday morning and off we go again.

“If they go on to have careers in the game there will certainly be disappointments. How they bounce back goes a long way to determining if they have a career and how far they’ll go if they do.”




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