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Match Reports

Stalybridge Celtic 0 Burnley U23s 3

Development squad up and running with impressive win at Bower Fold

18 July 2018

Early goals from the strike duo of Rob Harker and Ntumba Massanka set the Clarets under-23s on the way to their opening pre-season win at Bower Fold.

Summer signing Harker (below) took just four minutes to get off the mark with Massanka doubling the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

And a third goal seven minutes into the second half from substitute Tinashe Chakwana put the seal on a decent night’s work from the development squad.

After losing at Colne last Saturday, the Clarets’ stand-in coaching pair of Nicky Law and Jonathan Pepper were looking for an improvement.

And they got it against the Evo Stik Premier League side, which was also playing their second warm-up game under new boss Simon Haworth.

Burnley made the ideal start as they went in front with virtually their first attack, launched by goalkeeper Conor Mitchell.

His long kick cleared the Celtic defence and former Bury youngster Harker – who earned a deal over the summer after impressing on trial at the end of last season – coolly lifted the ball over goalkeeper Elliott Wynne to make it 1-0.

Harker was an effective targetman throughout the first half and also had a hand in the second goal.

Tunde Bayode, whose pace caused the home defence plenty of problems, broke clear before picking out Harker to cross low to Massanka, who side-footed home from six yards.

Massanka had chances to add to his tally, heading wide from a couple of decent positions, and also created an opening for Marley Blair, who steered a low shot just wide before the break.

It was not all Burnley, however, as Celtic made it a competitive affair and former Oldham winger Matty Wolfenden lifted a shot over the top before Ross Dent, who has followed Haworth from Clitheroe, nodded a Luke Wall cross over the bar.

Both sides made a number of changes at half-time but the tempo didn’t drop.

Within minutes of coming off the bench, midfielder Josh Benson almost notched Burnley's third with a low shot which was well saved.

And the Clarets soon added to their tally when the Stalybridge defence was again caught out by a ball over the top.

This time Ed Cook’s delivery forward caused hesitation and after a shot from the trialist who had been among the Burnley substitutes had been blocked, Chakwana reacted to guide a low effort just inside the far post.

Chakwana also saw another fierce strike saved but there was work to do at the other end to guarantee a clean sheet, Olly Younger making one notable block to deny Celtic a consolation as the Clarets completed job well done.

Stalybridge Celtic starting XI: Wynne, Spooner, Rigby, Tongue, Brady, Rule, Wall, Dent, Maieco, Marsden, Wolfenden.

Burnley: Mitchell, Cropper, Younger, Perkins, Glennon, Bayode, Goodridge, N’Guessan, Blair, Harker, Massanka. Second half substitutes used: Clarke, Cook, Koiki, Benson, Chakwana, Trialist, Fowler, Kershaw.

It was a win double on trhe night for the Clarets' Academy, with the under-18s winning 2-1 at Harrogate Town thanks to goals from Lewis Richardson and Mitch George.

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