22 weeks since Hesketh Bank played at home and the pitch was still in soft conditions and with the best efforts of the grounds men the Station Road pitch was deemed fit by Hesketh Bank's officials and the match officials when they arrived with Burnley United the visitors and the game watched by 42 spectators on a calm and mild March afternoon. Joe Griffith kept his place in goal and Radoslav Ivanov made his first start since October following an ankle injury, with Adam Thompson missing manager James Smith made the decision to put tall winger Richard Burns in centre of the defence in order to protect the 'keeper from the tall Burnley forward. Danny Kirk who has been excellent since joining in October once again started in centre defence and the very experienced Ian Dickinson who scored last time out also kept his place in the starting eleven. Josh Brierley and Rick Wilson featured as the middle men in midfield as Bobby Milton and Jack Brierley acted as the wingers with David Hogg and skipper Daniel Birkby starting up front. A strong bench of 5 substitutes in Josh Roberts, strikers John Stead and Chris Nation along with Jordan Smethurst who made the squad for the first time in 20 months following a horrific knee injury. And goalkeeper Wiktor Pamfil as the 5th sub as back up to Griffith.
The game started slow for both sides and Burnley United kicked off the game attacking the Station Road end. And both teams knew from the first whistle that the passing games was the first thing to be knocked off the agenda as the ball was not moving sweetly along the wet and boggy surface. The first fell to Hogg who had his powerful effort blocked in the 6 yard box after only 5 minutes following a corner after Bobby Milton's fierce strike was deflected behind the goal by the Burnley defender. Burnley should have been down to 10 men after only 20 minutes as one of their players already on booking dived in recklessly on Josh Brierley just outside the home sides 18 yard area but referee Bill Smith only had a word. Hogg did manage to get his reward for hard work in strike as he found himself through on goal after Milton flicked on a Burns long pass before drilling the ball past the oncoming Dave Salmon in the visitors goal to put the hosts in front just before the half hour mark. Burnley however didn't let it affect their game and equalised after 38 minutes as Michael Hodson broke clear of Ivanov and Burns before rounding Joe Griffith to slot the ball into the empty net despite the very best efforts of Dickinson and Kirk to stop the ball going into the goal.
Burnley should have taken the lead just before half time as a long ball wasn't dealt with and Hodson once again drilled the ball across Griffith only to be denied by the outside of the post with the home defence back peddling after switching off for 5 minutes. One last chance before half time fell to Milton who's shot whistled just wide of the goal after being laid of by Birkby in a neat move by the home side.
The second 45 kicked off in same pace as the first one had ended but with both defences sticking to their tasks the 'keepers were rarely troubled in the early exchanges. In order to push forward and try get a second goal Hesketh Bank's manager Smith decided to make a double substitution by bringing off scorer David Hogg and left winger Jack Brierley and replacing them with forwards Stead and Nation. Soon with time running out and game heading into the last 20 minutes skipper Birkby was unlucky not to give his side a second goal as his trademark turn was cut out by the Burnley defender at the last second. On 76 minutes Birkby made way for Jordan Smethurst who returned to action after nearly 20 months out with a knee injury sustained in 2014 and he was quick into getting the ball out wide to Ivanov and Nation who both failed to get the ball into the box. Relegation threatened Burnley shocked everyone in the crowd and took the lead in the 82nd minute as Dickinson and Burns were both caught out of place as Oliver Wood tapped in a low cross from the left hand side. With time running out for the home side it looked like they were heading for a 7th straight defeat before Rick Wilson's corner was tapped in by John Stead inside the away sides 6 yard box after Burnley's keeper Salmon had superbly pushed Brierley's thunder strike over the bar moments earlier.
Hesketh Bank felt like they were denied a stone wall penalty in the 4th minute of added time as Radoslav Ivanov delivered a throw-in to the box onto the head of Burns who appeared to be shoved in the back but Hesketh Bank's appeals were turned down by referee Smith who in turn booked both Wilson and Dickinson for dissent following the penalty incident.
A point gained but 2 lost in a game full of chances for which Hesketh Bank will be regretting not to have buried but as said a point is better than nothing and the 1st team will be looking to improve when they visit Coppull United next Saturday.
TEAM: Griffith; Ivanov, Kirk, Burns, Dickinson; Milton, Josh Brierley, Wilson, Jack Brierley(Stead 64); Hogg(Nation 64), Birkby(Smethurst 76). Subs (NOT Used): Roberts, Pamfil.
GOALS: Hogg 28', Stead 87'.
Booked: Dickinson, Wilson.
Man of The Match: Daniel Kirk.