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Togetherness and team spirit

18 March 2016

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Blackburn Rovers' youngsters will be looking to pull off a cup shock this evening when they take on Chelsea in the 1st leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final at Ewood Park - kick-off 7.45pm.

Billy Barr's youngsters, who have already defeated Premier League sides Leicester City and Aston Villa on their way to the last four of the competition, will need to put in another impressive display against top-flight opposition if they are to have a chance of reaching the finals against either Manchester City or Arsenal.

But at Ewood Park this evening they come up against a Chelsea side that have won three of the last four Youth Cup finals, their only defeat coming against Norwich City in 2013. Indeed the last two times Rovers reached the latter stages of the competition - the 2010 semi-finals, and the 2012 final, they were defeated by the Stamford Bridge club.

So Barr is under no illusions of the task that lies ahead, but he believes the young Rovers can be proud of their achievements this season and that they have something that the other teams left in the competition don't have, togetherness and team spirit.

"It is a great achievement, I am proud of the lads and the way they have gone about their work this season and it is their rewards for all that hard work," said Barr.

"From day one we've spoke about the togetherness and trying to achieve against all the odds, we're the little club that is in there with the bigger clubs.

"All three teams have got good individual players, players that can win any game at any point. We aren't in that position, but we've got a group of players that will put their bodies on the line, will run through brick walls for each other, and maybe that is where we are hoping that we will get our success with our togetherness, team spirit and work ethic.

"I'm proud of them but they probably don't think that. There have been certain points where we've been on top of them but we have to, that is our job, to stay on top of them and make sure we keep them focused and their attention to small detail is the biggest thing and making sure they are all ready when they get the chance.

"We've got good players. We've got a group of players now - first years and second years - that have been together at the football club for a long time.

"So we know each other, we know how each other ticks, we know how to get the best out of each other when things aren't going well, but we also know that we are good players.

"It is just about the lads not looking at the end result but just enjoying the occasion and putting everything that they can into it. We finish most pre-match chats with 'play with a smile on your face and enjoy it' and it is going to be no different."

Kick-off at Ewood this evening is 7.45pm. The Jack Walker lower tier will be open for the tie.

Admission prices are £5 for adults and £1 for over-65s and juniors aged 17 and under. Season tickets are not valid for this game.

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