Just over sixty days ago Craig Bellamy’s late equaliser brought down the curtains on Burnley’s initiation back in the Championship. Yesterday, at Altrincham, preparations began for the new campaign- now less than thirty days away.
There were no new faces as such for the many Clarets who made the trip. However starts were handed to youngsters Alex Ray-Harvey and Alex Macdonald- both of whom did their chances of being around the first team this year no harm.
The XI starting the first half didn’t take long to exert their superiority over their Conference North opponents. Macdonald exchanged a one-two with the ever-willing Paterson before firing home to give Burnley a ninth minute lead at Moss Lane.
Harvey and McCann kept things ticking in midfield, while Wallace was a constant threat on the right. It wasn’t long before Eagles added a second, with a left foot finish coming from another Paterson assist.
Paterson soon had his goal comfortably rounding the goal keeper for Burnley’s third around the half hour mark. That was the scoring done for the first half, though Wallace nearly added a spectacular fourth.
A long cross field ball from Easton was met by the Scot on the volley from the corner of the eighteen yard box. It was reminiscent of Di Canio’s volley against Wimbledon, but further out and with more pace- unfortunately it didn’t quite dip in.
Eleven changes at half-time and within five minutes Altrincham had pulled it back to 3-2. Mistakes from Cort and Jensen both came out with Nick Chadwick the beneficiary. Firstly, Chadwick got the wrong side of Cort before looping a header over the ‘Beast’ who familiarly found himself in no man’s land.
Secondly a rushed throw from the Big Dane found an Altrincham shirt, and a ball into the box again found an unmarked Chadwick who again headed home. 2-3 and Burnley displaying defensive problems which will need to be addressed by the time Watford come to Turf Moor.
Although the Burnley midfield never really took control of the second half, Wade Elliot was industrious and tried to keep things ticking over. It was the former Bournemouth man who’s cross was powerfully headed home by Chris Iwelumo.
The Altrincham keeper then produced a couple of good saves to keep out an Elliot shot and Kevin Long header. Long another youngster given a shot in the seconf half along with Wes Fletcher- who this week signed a new contract.
Unfortunately Long and Fletcher failed to leave an impression similar to the one left by their fellow youngsters in the first half, but it was the first game of pre-season and time is on their side.
Ultimately it was what it was. Neither spectacular nor catastrophic. There were some good performances and some not so good, some new things to think about and some old problems still on view. But what it does signal is the start of the new season.
It’s good to have football back.