BURNLEY Under-23s difficult first season in the Professional Development League continued as they were beaten 5-0 by Birmingham City at the Barnfield Training Centre.

The Clarets remain rooted to the foot of the north group and the defeat matched their heaviest of the season, having lost 6-1 to Sheffield United earlier in the campaign.

Michael Duff’s side have now lost three successive fixtures and won just once in their last 10 league games as they deal with the step up after the Clarets Academy was granted Category Two status last summer.

It was a young Burnley side that took to the pitch, featuring three trialists, while Ollie Younger and Dwight McNeil both started having been part of the first-team squad at Swansea last weekend.

It was the Blues who started brightly and they took the lead after 18 minutes when Remeao Hutton’s right-wing cross caught the wind and Conor Mitchell could only parry it into the net.

Burnley’s chances were few and far between, with McNeil curling over from distance midway through the half before Ntumba Massanka had a shot deflected off target just after the half hour.

It was Birmingham creating all the chances, with Kyle McFarlane hitting the outside of the post with an angled drive while Mitchell made saves from Wes McDonald and Jack Storer.

But two goals in the last five minutes of the first half ended the contest. First McDonald sent a swerving rocket from 25 yards into the top corner before McFarlane picked out the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The second half followed a similar pattern in a biting wind. McFarlane beat the offside trap to latch on to a long ball and round the advancing Mitchell, but Storer couldn’t convert his pull back with Younger helping to crowd him out.

It was four on the hour mark. Charlie Lakin’s inswinging free-kick took the slightest flick off a Burnley head on its way in.

At the other end Massanka headed over an Ali Koiki cross in a rare Clarets attack.

Lakin got his second of the game on 73 minutes, firing a left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Still the Blues attacked, with McDonald denied from distance by Mitchell before the same player fired wide from inside the area after good work from substitute Olly McCoy.