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Match Reports

Under 23s 0 Sheffield Wednesday U23s 1

Clarets draw blank in front of goal as Owls hand out just second defeat in 10 games

7 January 2019

Jimmy Dunne was back in a Burnley shirt but couldn’t prevent the Clarets from starting the new year with just a second defeat in 10 games.

With Dunne’s loan spell at Scottish Premier League side Hearts coming to an end, the defender was able to mark his return from injury in the Professional Development League.

The young Irishman completed 90 minutes and looked an assured presence as he took the opportunity to build up his match fitness ahead of a possible further loan move.

The Clarets’ defence was breached only once with a deflected first-half effort from Owls defender Ben Hughes.

But, frustratingly, that proved enough for Wednesday to secure all three points and avenge a home defeat in October as they held out to keep the dominant Clarets at bay.

Steve Stone’s side were on top virtually throughout but couldn’t find an equaliser as they drew a blank in front of goal for only the second time this season to miss the chance to join Birmingham City level on points at the top of the table.

In wet and windy conditions and on a pitch holding some surface water, the Clarets - missing play-maker Dwight McNeil following his elevation to first-team duty - had dominated the first half without being able to score.

And they went behind from virtually the Owls’ only attack of the opening 45 minutes, full-back Hughes directing a deflected shot across Adam Legzdins and into the far corner.

Legzdins was otherwise a virtual spectator as Burnley spent most of the time camped inside the visitors’ half with Josh Benson and Mark Howarth pulling the strings.

Tinashe Chakwana had a great chance to strike back immediately, but from Rob Harker’s low cross his close-range effort was blocked by Cameron McCulloch.

The Wednesday keeper showed excellent handling in the tricky conditions and was well protected by those in front of him as invariably a Burnley ball across goal found a blue and white shirt.

But after Rob Harker had made space for a shot which flew just wide, Tunde Bayode should have equalised with half an hour gone.

For once, McCulloch was at fault with a poor kick which found only Dan Agyei.

The striker launched an excellent run before picking out Bayode, who clipped his effort wide of the target to let the Owls off the hook.

Wednesday almost grabbed a second goal six minutes into the second half through Jordan Preston, who bobbled a shot just wide following a probing run from Liam Shaw.

But that was very much against the run of play as the Clarets continued to dominate.

Yet despite dominating possession, Stone’s men found it difficult to find a way through the Owls’ back line and get a clear sight of goal as they showed a little ring rustiness following the mid-winter break.

Harker’s shot on the turn was easy for McCulloch to deal with before the impressive Benson wasn’t too far away with a long-range effort that flew past the top corner.

Ali Koiki, another to be around the first-team squad in recent weeks, also confirmed his continuing progress with another polished performance.

But a fierce strike from the full-back, which was blocked by match-winner Hughes, was the nearest Burnley came to an equaliser and the point which would have been the minimum they deserved.

Burnley: Legzdins, Cropper, Dunne, Glennon, Koiki, Bayode, Howarth, Benson, Chakwana (Kershaw 71), Harker (Fowler 75), Agyei. Substitutes: Bruce, Cook, Harris.

Sheffield Wednesday: McCulloch, Hughes, Clarke, Lee, O’Grady, Thorniley, Stobbs (Hunt 79), Kirby, Damba (Borukov 75), Shaw, Preston (Grant 64). Substitutes: Render, West.

Referee: Adam Williamson

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