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Desire To Win Delights Stone

U23s boss pleased with reaction as Clarets get first win to boost cup hopes

18 January 2019

Steve Stone was delighted with the never-say-die attitude of his players as they came from behind to beat group leaders Bournemouth and keep alive their hopes of progressing in the Premier League Cup.

A top-two finish and a place in the last 16 looked unlikely when the Clarets surrendered an early lead to go 2-1 down with an hour gone at the Tameside Stadium.

But Stone’s men hit back with a second goal from Marley Blair and two goals inside three minutes from teenagers Rob Harker and Bobby Thomas to secure a thrilling 4-2 victory which ended the Cherries’ unbeaten record in Group C and lifted the Clarets up to second place – at least until West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool meet on Sunday.

And Stone was impressed with his side’s determination to dig out a first group win and avenge a heavy defeat at Bournemouth in early October.

“We got beaten 7-1 off them last time down there, so you’re looking for a reaction for that, even though it was five months ago,” said the U23s’ boss

“We needed a win just to get back in the mix. When I got here I realised the competition was possibly beyond us with the results we’d had.

“But we go right to the end and that’s what Burnley teams are about and Burnley supporters, that’s what they want to see from their players and the football club and that’s what I want to see as well.

“Whatever the score is we keep going. That is something I’ve always instilled into them and it can be difficult.

“Goals change games and they had a 10 to 15-minute period after half time when they were on top and they were good.

“The heads could have gone down, but you keep going back to character and that’s what you need.”

The victory was a first of 2019 following back-to-back league defeats as the Clarets rediscovered the route to goal.

But just as impressive was their commitment to keeping the ball out of their own net with goalkeeper Nick Pope playing a full part on his busiest afternoon since returning from long-term injury last month.

And in the final few minutes, Burnley threw up a wall of claret and blue to survive a flurry of goalmouth scrambles and protect their hard-earned two-goal lead.

“There was desire there today,” Stone added. “They were a good footballing side, which we knew they would be, with technically good players who can cut through you, which they did at times.

“But you have to stay resilient and show character and the things you need to be a professional footballer, first and foremost, before you even play football.

“I’ve been working on the mental side of the game to make sure they understand that.

“We always wanted to be aggressive at the top end of the pitch and I thought we were and counter-attacked well.

“We were clinical at times and could have scored more, although so could they.

“It was a real game of football and I wanted to see those attributes from my players and that was more like my team.”

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