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They gave everything

21 April 2015

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John Filan hopes that the Under-21 players can use the experience of Monday night's big occasion to strive for success in years to come.

Rovers went down 2-1 to Southampton after extra-time in the final of the U21 Premier League Cup, but they went down fighting, something the Under-21s coach feels the lads should be proud of.

Goalless after the first leg at Ewood, little separated the two sides. Ryan Seager eventually opened the scoring for the home side minutes into the second half, but Rovers were back on level terms soon after thanks to a Matt Targett own goal.

Southampton went down to ten men in the closing stages, whilst Rovers had strong claims for a penalty waved away when Hyuga Tanner was pulled down in the area.

In the end experience and a touch of class that proved to be the difference, Sam Gallagher's stunning strike in extra-time ensuring it was the Saints that lifted the trophy.

Despite the loss, coach Filan was delighted with the effort the young squad put into the match, and the tournament as a whole.

"I think the lads should be very proud of themselves," said Filan. "Our aim was to win the final and we've run them really close.

"The policy of our Under-21s is to be young and we were up against a lot of experienced lads who have played a lot first team football, whilst there were scholars in our side.

"Tonight they gave everything, and if a couple of little twists and turns had gone our way then it might have been different.

"We are gutted but we are proud of the effort, we want a young side, we want them to come through to the first team. We have beaten a couple of Premier League sides to get to the final and have run a well renowned Academy team right to the wire.

"I think sometimes you learn more from a defeat as a win can cover up things, and you aren't going to get a bigger learning curve than that our there, a cup final at a big ground in front of a big crowd.

"There are a lot of positives to take out of it, we can walk away proud. The experience of tonight can only stand them in good stead and can help them push on."

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