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Stephen Cummings column: Burnley played their part in FA Cup thriller
IT will come as scant consolation to the hundreds of Burnley supporters who braved the storm-lashed south cost in search of FA Cup glory last weekend, but as they lick their wounds and reflect on what might have been, they can at least be secure in the knowledge that their team played their part in one of the most thrilling ties of third round weekend.
Quite rightly, Sheffield United’s acts of derring-do at Villa Park and Rochdale’s humbling of Leeds United garnered all the headlines.
But only at St Mary’s was there a seven-goal thriller which oscillated with such wild abandon and unpredictability.
It’s a shame that those responsible for choosing which ties were to be televised overlooked this gem.
It was, as former Claret and ex-Saints manager Dave Merrington put it, “a belting cup tie”; one to revive even the most jaded of FA Cup palates.
Here was 90 minutes of attacking intent, goals and drama.
It’s knocking on for a century since Bert Freeman’s strike gave the Clarets their singular success in this competition and it would have been fitting had Burnley been able to enjoy an extended run.
But if you have to leave early, then best to do so kicking and screaming rather than following the path of least resistance.
Few and far between are the teams who will go to deepest, darkest Hampshire and draw level from a two-goal deficit. Rarer still are those sides who will score three and come away with nothing but pride to show for it.
Sean Dyche’s men may not have done enough to claim the Saints’ scalp but their efforts were certainly deserving of a Turf Moor rematch.
That Jay Rodriguez won’t be revisiting his roots next week was largely down to Kelvin Davis’ wonder-save from Sam Vokes and a stubborn upright which thwarted Danny Ings.
Speaking of Ings, the striker’s 20th goal of the season will have done nothing to quell the interest in him from various clubs.
Sean Dyche and the board have consistently toed the same line when asked about the player’s future – namely that every player has his price but the club are on a financially sound footing and have no need to sell anyone.
The club’s resilience on this matter is likely to be tested to the full over the next 24 days.
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