HAT-TRICK hero Jason Gilchrist was stuck for words after his heroics at the Theatre of Dreams on Friday night.
Terry Pashley’s youngsters pulled off one of their greatest victories in the FA Youth Cup, triumphing 4-3 after extra time against Manchester United.
And Reds fan Gilchrist, a second year scholar, joined the likes of Ronaldo and Martin Peters as opposing players to score a hat-trick against United at Old Trafford.
Gilchrist was back in the city supporting United in their derby victory against City at the Etihad Stadium, and the former City youngster smiled: “Words can’t describe it.
“It’s always been my dream to play here and to come here and score a hat-trick is just out of this world.
“It was just amazing.
“I don’t know how I’m feeling at the minute, just excitement. I’m overjoyed.”
Gilchrist was part of the side that reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals last season for the first time since 1979, but matching that run looked a tall order when paired with United, 10-times winners of the competition.
But Gilchrist, who took his seasonal tally to 19 goals with his treble haul, was confident of pulling off an upset: “We were the underdogs but in the dressing room we were all positive and at half-time we thought we were in good stead.
“We kept getting told ‘don’t play the badge’ and I thought we did well, and the result has gone in our favour.”
And he described his hat-trick: “The first I tried to dink it over the goalkeeper, but he got a touch on it and I just got the follow-up.
“I was lucky to get that one because the defender was closing in, but I’ll take it.
“The second one I was closing down the keeper and not giving him any time to play.
“The third was a perfect cross in. I didn’t even have to break stride, I just had to put my head on it.”
Having put out one of the favourites, the St Helens-born youngster feels Burnley can push on now: “Last year we had an amazing year and this year we’ve got the potential to be just the same if not better.
“We’ve got a younger team but I don’t think that’s affected us at all.
“Maybe physically we’re a bit weaker but there is good talent among the lads and I thought we did well.”
United bossed the ball initially, but couldn’t break the Clarets down, who grew in confidence and were themselves composed in possession.
And just after the half hour, after Luke Conlan was brought down just in from the corner flag on the left, Nathan Lowe flighted over the free kick, and skipper Cameron Howieson nipped in to head home at the near post.
It looked like Burnley would go in ahead, but in injury time, James Weir played a delightful one-two with Adnan Januzaj and finished across keeper Callum Jakovlevs.
If that was a blow, Burnley then went behind just after the hour when centre back Nicholas Ioannou rifled in the rebound after Charlie Holt headed an effort off the line.
But moments later they were level as the ball was slotted through for Gilchrist, and though his initial shot was saved, it looped up and the striker made sure from a matter of inches.
Within five minutes United were ahead again as Donald Love, younger brother of Burnley’s Archie, drove a superb strike past Jakovlevs after the ball dropped invitingly from a corner.
Incredibly, three minutes later, substitute Declan Dalley’s backpass to keeper Pierluigi Gollini was short, and Gilchrist dispossessed the keeper and slotted into the empty net.
In extra time, there were more heroics as substitute Bradley Jackson burst down the right and delivered a sublime measured centre for Gilchrist to head in for his fourth hat-trick of the season.
Jakovlevs had to make a remarkable triple save at the death to ensure victory, on a memorable night.