Burnley 1 Blackburn Rovers 2
Rovers fans made the short journey down the M65 in good voice to cheer their boys on against our long suffering rivals Burnley.
It’s always a special occasion when these two sides are pitched against each other regardless of the level. Both teams showed bright spells in the opening stages without really testing either keeper, however it was the visitors who ended the first half strongly with Curtis Haley being denied by the keeper and Reece Hands coming close with a 20 yard strike.
Rovers seal their place
There had been little difference between these sides in the first leg and they went in all square at the break. The cricket field stand went delirious 11 minutes into the second half when promising Hugo Fernandez was on hand to slot home after Osayamen Osawe had seen his effort blocked by Cook.
The 1500 travelling Rovers supporters were still celebrating when our youngsters doubled their lead on the night, when our captain Ryan Edwards drilled a 30 yard free kick towards goal and the unfortunate ‘keeper Josh Cook allowed it to squirm under his body and into the net.
Rovers In Rampant Mood
Rovers were now in rampant mood, Haley saw his shot deflected behind whilst John O’Sullivan, Raheem Hanley and Osayamen Owase all made life difficult for the Burnley backline.
As the match played out its latter stages Steven Hewitt scored a consolation for the hosts from the penalty spot after Adam Henley’s handball, however nothing was spoiling a fantastic night for the Rovers youngsters and the noisy travelling support.
McPhillips praises the squad
Under 18’s coach Terry McPhillips hailed his young guns as Rovers booked their place in the final where they now await the winner of Manchester United or Chelsea. McPhillips didn’t just praise those who played their part in the triumphant semi final but to all those who have contributed to a fantastic season for our academy lads.
“I’m really pleased for the lads and for the whole run to the final really,” said the Rovers coach.
“We haven’t played quite as well on either night although I thought we did well in the second half.
“Just credit to them for all the games, they come thick and fast, we’ve another this Saturday. We had eleven new starters on Saturday against Bolton with under 16s and an under 15 in so credit to all the lads, the 16s and the 15s that have supplemented us, they’ve done tremendously.
“We are in the final, we are second in the league at the moment and we’ve just got to keep it going.”
“As it falls to Hugo in the box the angle we had you think he is going to score, he has that quality and he does,” added McPhillips. “Then we get a little bit of luck with the next one, maybe a deflection and perhaps the goalie could have saved it, but in that spell of the game we were on top, we were on the front foot and we were too hot to handle at that stage
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never know crowds like this on any youth game. “I’ve perhaps been to one or two with bigger crowds but never with the noise this game creates. “It is brilliant for the lads, they are either going to be playing at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge and of course Ewood again.”