Burnley made it back to back wins in the Carabao Cup this season to book their place in the Last-16 of the competition for the first time since the 2014.
A trip to The Den to face a Millwall side who had started the season in good form under Gary Rowett looked like it could be something of a tough task for a stretched Burnley squad.
However, Sean Dyche’s side were able to produce a very solid performance to frustrate their hosts and then took the chances when they came their way.
Dyche handed a first team debut to Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal, while there were also first starts for both the impressive Josh Benson and Bobby Thomas, who was paired with Jimmy Dunne in a new look defence for the Clarets.
While Anthony Glennon replaced Dwight McNeil in the second period for his Burnley debut.
The one moment of that took some of the gloss off Burnley’s win was Jay Rodriguez suffering an ankle injury and being forced off early on. That will be a concern for Dyche as the Clarets’ bad luck on the injury front shows little sign of changing.
Story of the game
Brownhill magic puts Burnley in control
Millwall, who came into the game buoyed by their first Championship win of the season against Rotherham United last weekend, started brightly in the opening exchanges.
The Lions called Peacock-Farrell into action early on with the Northern Ireland international making good saves to deny Matt Smith’s header and then to keep out a driven effort by Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
Although Dyche’s side were looking solid in the opening exchanges it took a while for them to grow into the contest in an attacking sense. However, once McNeil and the lively Benson started to get on the ball more Burnley started to make things happen.
Benson produced Burnley’s first real opening of the game with a driving run through midfield before he fired a shot straight into Millwall keeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
Matej Vydra then pulled his effort across the face of goal when in a decent position in the final third.
The first period looked as though it was heading for a stalemate, but then Josh Brownhill produced a stunning moment of individual quality to put Dyche’s side ahead. The midfielder picked the ball up around 30-yeards from Millwall’s goal and unleashed a rocket of a shot into the top corner with Bialkowski having absolutely no chance of getting anywhere near it.
Solid Burnley see out the victory
Millwall would have been hoping they could come out in the second period and put the Clarets under real pressure as they tried to get back into the cup tie.
However, Burnley remained very disciplined and solid in their shape to really prevent their hosts from building up a head of steam.
In fact, it was Dyche’s side who posed the greater attacking threat during the first half of the second period. Burnley came close to doubling their lead and putting the tie to bed but Vydra was unable to get enough on the ball to find a way past Bialkowski, after being picked out by a fine ball by Ashley Westwood.
Dunne then came close to scoring for the second successive game after being picked out by a dangerous delivery from McNeil, but the defender’s header was kept out by Bialkowski to keep the hosts still in with a chance.
Rowett’s side to their credit never gave up and they created one last real chance to peg the game back and take the contest to penalties. However, Smith could head the ball wide of the target in a good position in the box.
Vydra made that miss count by doubling Burnley’s lead in stoppage time, with the forward slotting in his first goal of the campaign with a really cool finish after Wood unselfishly picked out the Czech Republic international inside the area.
Burnley’s academy starting to come good
Much has been made about the amount of injuries within Burnley’s squad at the start of the campaign, and the fact that the Clarets are yet to make a signing in the transfer window.
However, what those circumstances have enabled is for some of Burnley’s academy prospects to get their chance to impress. Dunne, fresh from a solid Premier League debut against Leicester City, was again an impressive performer at The Den. He was joined at the back by Thomas who looked equally as composed and solid on his debut.
Benson was arguably the standout though, with the midfielder proving he could have the talent to really make an impression with the Clarets over the next few years. He looked calm and assured in possession whilst also helping to hold a good defensive shape for the Clarets while out of possession.
Clarets showing apatite for the cup
In recent seasons Burnley have come under fair scrutiny from their supporters for their lack of form in both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup.
Too often, especially in the League Cup, the Clarets have produced disjointed and poor performances in the competition against lower league opponents to surrender the chance of a cup run.
This season, though, Burnley have looked much more like themselves in both of their cup matches. Their win against Sheffield United in the previous round saw them keep their composure after going a goal behind and then eventually claiming a deserved win via a penalty shootout.
The game at Millwall was always going to be a real test over how far the Clarets wanted to push things in the cup this term. The answer was emphatic with Burnley producing a resilient display capped off with moments of quality to advance through to the next round.
Burnley’s reward could be another cup tie against Manchester City, but they will have to get past Championship side Bournemouth first.
Whoever the Clarets face they will be hoping for more of the same in the next round.