GOALS from Chris McCann, Charlie Austin and Dean Marney ensured there would be no cup upset at Vale Park.
But the Clarets were made to work for their 3-1 triumph and progression in the competition, despite being dominant in the opening 45 minutes against their League Two opposition.
The hosts started brightly, pressing Eddie Howe’s side high up the field, and their endeavour was rewarded when Ashley Vincent was bundled over by Kieran Trippier 20 yards from goal; Chris Shuker floating the resulting set-piece beyond everybody in the box and in to the far corner.
There was an air of fortune about the opener. Shuker clearly hadn’t shaped to shoot, though the result was reward for a well-executed set-piece. However, the Clarets refused to let their heads drop and were level within a minute courtesy of Chris McCann’s close range header from a Ross Wallace corner.
That equaliser clearly had an effect on Micky Adams’s side as the players in pink sat off their opponents, wary of conceding again. But that benefitted the away side. Junior Stanislas and Wallace nestled in behind Charlie Austin while McCann and Dean Marney were allowed the freedom to venture as new signing Brian Stock guarded his back four.
The Clarets were fluid, comfortable and composed in possession, rarely breaking a sweat. Marney went close to giving Burnley the lead when heading in to the arms of Chris Neal from Austin’s assist. Tom Pope then headed over from a corner for the home side before Wallace stung the palms of Neal with a left-footed drive from 25 yards.
There wasn’t much need for penetrative passes as the Clarets played the patient game, drawing Vale in before positional interchanges and one-touch triangular passages carved a way through. But bizarrely it wasn’t their own creativity that forged the lead.
Joe Davis’s head was elsewhere as he naively stroked the ball back to Neal, unaware of Marney’s presence, and the midfielder pounced before sliding the ball to Austin who slotted in to an empty net to open his account for the season.
After the half hour Marney pulled a shot wide of Neal’s right-hand post but he made no mistake in the 42nd minute, driving at the heart of the Vale defence before thumping a left-footed strike in to the roof of the net. Defender John McCombe saw his acrobatic effort flash wide of the near post as the first half drew to a close.
Vale reacted after the interval, showing desire, commitment and intent to attack their visitors.
Their determination forced mistakes among the Clarets ranks, preventing Howe’s men the time to pick a pass. Louis Dodds proved a menace with his movement across the front line while Jennison Myrie Williams constantly drove at Joseph Mills down the right.
Shuker almost grabbed his second of the tie almost immediately when racing on to a squared pass 18 yards out before smashing the ball past the post. Grant then transformed from a bystander to hero, denying Dodds’s fierce drive from hitting the back of the net with a sublime reflex stop. McCombe blazed over from the resulting corner when well-positioned and unmarked.
And as the hosts continued to light up the fixture, pushing for a goal, Myrie Williams watched his deflected shot creep under Grant but crawl wide of the far post. The Clarets did escape the onslaught and should have added punishment of their own when breaking three-on-one but Neal mopped up Stanislas’s tame effort from inside the box.
Wallace’s trickery on the right conjured a path past his marker and when it seemed Austin would put the game beyond any doubt from the cross, Adam Yates glanced clear with a recovery header from under the woodwork. As time crept by, Vale continued to step up the pressure and they would be denied once more from the reflexes of Grant as he somehow flicked Dodds’s powerful header over the bar before stooping low in the closing stages to deny Sam Morsy from six yards out.
It was a frantic second period, governed by the hosts, meaning the Clarets will have to step it up when they entertain Bolton Wanderers on Saturday as the Championship season gets underway.