Date: 25th July 2010 at 8:37am
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The Clarets lifted a specially-commissioned glass trophy yesterday (Saturday 24th July)after beating a Singapore Select X1 1-0 in the inaugural FIS Asian Challenge Cup match in the Jalan Besar Stadium. A superbly taken free-kick from Chris Eagles in the 50th minute was enough to give the Clarets their third successive win of their Singapore tour ensuring they maintained their 100% record of wins in their pre-season friendlies to date.

The Clarets have now won all five friendlies they have played so far this summer. They beat Bury and Oldham in Blighty before embarking on their three-match Singapore Tour. The games have intentionally been getting progressively more difficult culminating in yesterday`s match against effectively a Singapore Under 23 International team. This was certainly their strongest challenge yet against a plucky talented side and there would certainly be no repeat of the previous two games when the Clarets handed out successive midweek 5-0 drubbings to first Singapore S League`s Gombak United and then Home United.

Burnley return to England on Monday with the opening game of the 2010-11 season at home against Nottingham Forest on Saturday 7th August getting ever closer. They will however still have two more pre-season games to play despite the game against Accrington Stanley scheduled to be played at the Crown Ground on Tuesday night being called off due to the inclement weather affecting Accy`s £70,000 plus pitch improvement programme.

Brian Laws has confirmed they will now play another match behind closed doors in addition to their scheduled game against Stoke City at the Galpharm Stadium in Huddersfield on Saturday 31st July (Kick-Off 3pm). If we win both those games we will have achieved a 100% record of victories in our pre-season schedule, something which has not been achieved for sometime. Indeed I would have to look that up to see exactly if and when that ever happened. Maybe one of our posters has the answer?

Anyway let`s get back to yesterday`s game played on a hot and humid night in front of over 5000 Singapore fans on a pitch made from 3G Astroturf. The demanding nature of this sort of pitch was enough for Brian Laws not to take chances with those players in his squad carrying minor knocks. Both Tyrone Mears and Chris Iwelumo were therefore sidelined for this game and once again Martin Paterson and Chris McCann were not risked.

Laws plumped for one man up front, Steven Thompson supported by Eagles and Wallace on the flanks with a back four of Eckersley, Duff, Bikey and Fox. Our full starting line- up was as follows:

Jensen, Eckersley, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Alexander, Wallace, Marney, Elliott, Eagles, Thompson

Strict rules for this cup game would only allow up to seven substitutes to come on and play although it would appear you could name as many as you wanted and the Clarets named nine players on the bench.- Mawson, Carlisle, Harvey, McDonald, Edgar, Cort, Rodriguez, Easton and Fletcher.

The Singapore Select X1 was led by captain, 19 year old midfielder, Hariss Harun who three years ago became the youngest ever Singapore international. The rest of the team were made up mainly from Singapore Under 23 internationals. Their starting line-up was as follows if you want to Google their names:

Mahbud, Baharudin, Shah, Yunos, Hanapi, Jiayi, Sulaiman, Ishak, Amri, Harun, Hasan. Subs: Jantan, Casmir, Ashibilie, Nawaz, Wilkinson, Nizam, Hameed, Arifin, Hamzah, Masturi, Chang, Mahbud

The game got off to a lively start and the Singapore Select X1 had the ball in the net with the match only a few minutes old but thankfully for the Clarets it was ruled offside. In these opening minutes, Thompson, Marney and Duff all had good chances at the other end to break the deadlock. But the score remained 0-0. The bright start though petered out and the rest of the first half had little goalmouth action at either end with a midfield scrap taking over proceedings.

So a disappointing first half, after an encouraging start came to an end with no side being able to break the deadlock.

Brian Laws tried to liven things up for the second half by making two changes. Cort came on for Eckersley with Duff moving into the right back slot. Graham Alexander was also replaced by David Edgar who once more slotted into his new experimental role of holding midfielder.

The changes seemed to work and a much livelier Clarets side found themselves 1-0 up after 50 minutes. Marney was upended on the edge of the box and a free kick was awarded. Up stepped Chris Eagles and with some skill he drilled a sweet right-footed shot into the bottom corner of the net giving substitute keeper, Shahril Jantan no chance.

On the hour mark, McDonald and Rodriguez come on to replace Marney and Thompson and 14 minutes later Laws made a couple more changes when Carlisle and Easton replaced Bikey and Fox. The Clarets could have made one more substitute out of their seven allowed but Laws resisted the temptation.

The Singapore side to their credit never give up hope and continued to test the resolve of the Clarets back-four as they sought that elusive equaliser. Brian Jensen had earlier come to our rescue on the hour mark diving at the feet of Nawaz to keep the score at 1-0. With the game drawing to a close it was Jensen again who pulled off a great save to once more deny Nawaz in added time. In the end though, it was the Clarets who lifted the trophy bringing to a close their successful tour of Singapore.

Jensen, Eckersley (Cort H/T), Duff, Bikey (Carlisle 74), Fox (Easton 74), Alexander (Edgar H/T), Wallace, Marney (McDonald 61), Elliott, Eagles, Thompson (Rodriguez 60)

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