Bristol Rovers 2, Burnley FC 0

BURNLEY suffered their first pre-season defeat in inauspicious circumstances at the Memorial Ground on Tuesday night.

Having despatched Blue Square North side Altrincham and League 1 Bury with minumum fuss, the Clarets were second best against the Gas, who will start the new season under Paul Buckle in League 2 after suffering relegation.

Boss Eddie Howe has been working his players hard with double training sessions - including on Monday, rather than travelling to their Bath base and staying overnight.

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And a six-mile tailback, coupled with further hold-ups on the M6 meant a late arrival in Bath, and not much time to get the journey out of tired legs.

Howe, however, was not using that as a reason for a performance which was a long way from what he would have expected: “We’re not going to look at the journey as an excuse.

“We’re working them hard. They did a double session (on Monday) so they could be a bit leggy.

“We’re still getting fitness into their game but there are still disappointing aspects to their game that we need to improve.”

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Burnley, after scoring seven goals in their previous two warm up games, struggled to maintain possession or trouble home keeper Scott Bevan, while the Gas, full of power and pace, had the Clarets on the back foot throughout.

Howe admitted: “We didn’t create much, for whatever reason.

“We hit the post early and then came alive in the closing stages.

“We will reflect on the performance and make sure we get better.”

Howe again lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with loan man Ben Mee pulling on the shirt for the first time after signing last Thursday, while Chris Eagles, playing off the front, looked to pull the strings.

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Eagles was involved in the first minute as his cross found skipper Chris McCann, and although he hit his shot into the turf, it fell for Martin Paterson, who flicked the ball past Bevan, but against the upright.

That was as good as it got in the first half, and it was pretty much one-way traffic towards Brian Jensen’s goal.

The Pirates went ahead midway through the half when Mee did well to head behind a dangerous Joe Anyinsah cross, but from Matt Gill’s corner, Matt Harrold side-footed a half volley past Jensen.

Scott McGleish twice might have added to the lead with instinctive flicks, both kept out by Jensen from more inviting dead balls from Gill, while Harrold might have had a second after Tyrone Mears got under another Anyinsah cross, before the former Southend striker wastefully blazed over.

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Burnley were second best, and Dean Marney and Mears were fortunate not to be cautioned for late challenges which would surely have been punished in competitive action.

The Clarets were lucky to go in at half-time only 1-0 down, and Howe made just the two changes at the break, with Wade Elliott and Ross Wallace replacing young widemen Alex MacDonald and Wes Fletcher.

However, it didn’t alter the flow of the game, and the Gas might have had a penalty soon after the restart as substitute Ben Swallow looked to have been brought down by Dannny Fox.

Sub Jo Kuffour should have made it 2-0 from a poor Fox back pass, beating Mee but lifting his shot over Jensen and the bar, but fellow sub Eliot Richards did score with virtually his first touch, slotting home tidily past Jensen.

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Burnley made seven changes just after the hour, as Jay Rodriguez added some typical urgency, forcing a save after his persistence created an opening.

Wallace deserved a goal for a stunning 25-yard half volley, cutting across the ball with his left foot, only to hit the bar, but Rovers could also have added to their lead, with Jensen forced to get down to his left to beat away Wayne Brown’s free kick.

It was a Burnley display devoid of inspiration and tempo, as the hosts got in their faces and made life difficult, and Howe and a sizeable travelling support will expect an improved showing on Saturday in the final outing of the mini tour at Torquay.

BURNLEY: Brian Jensen; Tyrone Mears (Kevin Long 67), Michael Duff (Andre Bikey 67), Ben Mee (David Edgar 67), Danny Fox (Brian Easton 67); Dean Marney (Marvin Bartley 67), Chris

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Eagles (Jay Rodriguez 67), Chris McCann; Wes Fletcher (Ross Wallace 46), Martin Paterson (Charlie Austin 67), Alex MacDonald (Wade Elliott 46).

Unused: Lee Grant, Jon Stewart, Steve Hewitt.

Attendance: 2,500 (230 from Burnley)