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Match Reports

Burnley U18s 4 Leeds Utd U18s 2

Superb second-half fightback earns Clarets big win in play-off rac

19 February 2019

A superb second-half performance capped by twin strikes from both Michael Fowler and Mitch George swept aside Leeds to propel the Clarets right into the play-off mix.

Lucky to be just one goal down at the break, Burnley were staring at a first defeat since Tony Philliskirk took charge in December.

But a change of approach in the second half paid spectacular dividends as four goals in 18 minutes brought a fourth successive win to lift the Clarets level on points with Leeds in second spot in the U18 Professional Development League.

Only two goals now separate the Roses rivals, while north group leaders Sheffield Wednesday also remain in touching distance just two points ahead with seven games to go.

To secure a top-two finish and a play-off berth, the Clarets could ill afford to drop further points against a Leeds side which beat them at the end of November.

Burnley have tasted defeat just once in the league since then but were up against it after Dane Burlace had fired the visitors ahead at the Barnfield Training Centre.

The Leeds full-back curled home a free-kick at the near post following a flair-up which had brought no action from referee Zeyad Ahmed, other than a free-kick for a foul by Dan Moss whose afternoon was to get better with an impressive second-half showing.

In a feisty cross-border battle Leeds could have added to their lead but Henri Kumwenda and Jack Jenkins both failed to hit the target when well placed and Clarets keeper Harry Allen, having earlier saved from Nial Huggins, pushed over a deflection off team-mate Ethan Kershaw.

Mitch George and Michael Fowler (top) shared the Clarets' goals

The Clarets had never been able to impose themselves on the contest but were a different proposition after the break as they knocked Leeds out of their stride and grabbed the initiative.

The introduction of Chris Conn-Clarke on the left-hand side of a re-shuffled midfield played its part before the young Irishman was dismissed for swinging an arm in stoppage time following another flashpoint and confrontation which this time did bring an intervention from the referee.

And captain Fowler led by example as he launched the fightback with a superb strike eight minutes into the second half.

The Clarets’ top scorer picked up the ball and ran at the Leeds defence before jinking inside to curl a shot into the bottom corner from almost 25 yards.

And two minutes later the Clarets were in front, Fowler turning provider to square the ball for wingman George to tap home.

Burnley were completely dominant as Kian Yari, who took a grip of midfield alongside Kershaw, almost added a third following a fine weaving run.

But the Clarets still needed a third goal to earn some breathing space and they went one better with another quick-fire double to go 4-1 up with almost 20 minutes to go.

Fowler added his second when he hooked in, accidentally or otherwise, a ball forward from Conn-Clarke.

And when George timed another run perfectly to squeeze in a shot at the far post the points were in the bag.

Substitute Lewis Richardson and Conn-Clarke were denied by Harrison Male’s double save as Burnley sniffed a fifth goal.

But although Leeds did pull one back through substitute Max McMillan’s late header, they were a spent force and Burnley rode out the dismissal of Conn-Clarke to seal a vital win which keeps the title race wide open.

Burnley: Allen, Patterson, Moss, Taylor, Rain, George, Yari, Kershaw, Mupariwa (Conn-Clarke HT), Fowler (Richardson 72), Harris. Substitutes: Calderbank-Park, Tucker, Pruti.

Leeds United: Male, Burlace, Shergill, Leverett (Rigby 70), Cresswell, Casey, Huggins (McMillan75), Jenkins, Kumwenda, Haughland (Thornton 83), Rubie. Substitutes: Rae, Rigby, Thornton, McMillan.

Referee: Zeyad Ahmed

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