That was the Youth Week...That Wasn`t to Be!
It is never easy losing to Blackburn no matter what level we are talking about. This week we had to suffer a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Rovers following their 2-1 win at Turf Moor on Wednesday night n the FA Youth Cup semi-final. It is something we continually have to endure these days and I have to say if God supports a football club, he is likely to be wearing a Blue & White shirt! We just simply can`t seem to get the better of that lot down the road at the other end of the M65. The bragging rights continue to remain with the Premier League outfit if that`s what they still are come the end of the season!
The general consensus is that we were beaten by a stronger, more physical academy youth team but it is just a pity it had to be Blackburn Rovers after defeating three other Academy teams, Ipswich, West Brom and Fulham.
It was never going to be easy against Blackburn following their 1-0 win in the first leg at Ewood Park and it was widely accepted that whoever scored the first goal in the second leg would likely turn out to be the winners. That team would prove to be Rovers and after that it was always going to be a uphill struggle for the Clarets.
After a hard fought first half with the score remaining 0-0, it was Rovers, Hugo Fernandez who broke the deadlock in the 55th minute, giving Blackburn a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Ryan Edwards doubled their lead on the night three minutes later scoring from a long range free kick. It was virtually impossible now for the Clarets to comeback from 3-0 down but they gave it their best shot.
In the 85th minute, Burnley were awarded a penalty, after Adam Henley handled Luke Conlan's cross from the left-wing. Some toing and froing then took place after Blackburn goalkeeper Matthew Urwin was booked for knocking the ball off the spot with Steven Hewitt ready to take the spot kick. It didn`t put Hewitt off though and he duly thumped the ball home to make it 2-1 on the night (or 3-1 on aggregate)
Sadly though it was nothing but a consolation goal in the end and it will now be Rovers who face either Manchester United or Chelsea in the final (lucky blighters as usual, thank you God, you Bastard!)
Terry Pashley said after the defeat:
"It`s their efforts and their ability that got us this far.
"They`ve got nothing to be down about.
"We won`t allow them to be.
"We`re not going to feel sorry for ourselves.
"We just came up short in the end - not for the want of trying but we got beat off a good side, and as I said to the boys there`s no disgrace in that.
"We did our best, and it`s been a good journey.
"It`s been a good education for them."
The only thing that Clarets fans can do now is look for the positives something we are used to doing over the years.
Let`s start with one clear positive, putting aside the fact we got beat by Rovers who are sadly still a Premier League side (just) and enjoy Academy status! We are not in that league and we continue to plead poverty so it is a remarkable achievement to get this far in the competition and we have to give full credit to youth team coach, Terry Pashley and his team for such a remarkable run. To get to our first FA Youth Cup semi-final since 1978 is a phenomenal achievement of which we can all be proud. It only feels so bad because it had to be Rovers who eventually knocked us out!
The other really good positive is that this team obviously oozes talent and if we can hold on to some of our star young guns with EPPP just around the corner, the future must remain bright. Cameron Howison and Luke Conlan both secured professional contracts last week on the back of this season`s success for the youth team and there are rumours that quite a few more could also be in the first-team/development squad next season.
An incredible 10, 556 fans turned up for the second-leg at Turf Moor and it must have been a great experience for our youth team to play in front of them. Some might not play in front of such a big crowd again! Needless to say we also had more Clarets fans turn up for the first leg at Ewood than Rovers fans coming to Turf Moor for the second-leg so that sums things up a bit!!
The resilience in the squad is also remarkable. There must have been quite a few downcast faces following the Rovers defeat but they bounced back immediately beating Wrexham 3-0 at Gawthorpe on Saturday to maintain their push to become Youth Alliance North West Champions. They did this too without key players, Cameron Howieson and Steven Hewitt who both travelled with the first team down to Portsmouth. Alex Mullin and Tom Anderson were also out injured.
So in summary things look bright on the youth scene despite the uncomfortable disappointment of losing to Rovers in a high-profile FA Youth Cup semi-final. Oh stuff 'em their time for misery will come and God`s a plonker anyway!
FA Youth Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Stats
Burnley: Cook, Aryn Williams, Coleman, Errington, Conlan, Gallagher (Gilchrist 68), Love (Daly 82), Hewitt, Evans, Howieson, McCartan
Substitutes not used: Jakolevs, Milin, Holt
Blackburn Rovers: Urwin, Henley, Edwards, O`Connell, Beesley (Wylie 68), Hands (Cotton 75), Hanley, O`Sullivan, Osawe, Fernandez, Haley
Substitutes not used: Dilo, Boland, Laverty
Referee C. Pawson