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A great experience for our young side

4 May 2016

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Damien Johnson hopes his development squad will be all the better for the experience of having pushed a strong Arsenal side all the way at the Emirates Stadium.

The young Rovers put in a terrific display to narrowly lose their promotion play-off 2-1 at the home of the Gunners on Tuesday night.

Having performed admirably to keep the hosts out in the first half, Arsenal took the lead early in the second when Santi Cazorla, one of several first team stars on show for the home side, played in Chris Willock to open the scoring on 49 mins.

But Rovers grew in confidence as the game wore on and got back on level terms thanks to a fine strike from outside the box by midfielder Joe Rankin-Costello just past the hour.

The match was finely balanced and could have gone either way until Willock struck ten minutes from time to send Arsenal through to a final against Aston Villa next week.

"We are disappointed to lose the game but there is no doubt that we have come up against a very good side," said Johnson.

"They had the first-teamers playing so it is great experience for our guys in terms of playing against top class players.

"We knew it was always going to be tough, they were always going to have a lot of the ball but I felt on the whole we coped okay.

"When you come to a place like Arsenal you are going to have to rely on your goalkeeper to make some saves and Fisher did that to be fair to him.

"When we got our goal we had a real belief about us and we looked like we could cause them more problems, but their second goal is a good goal from the kid, he's a good player.

"But all in all, for their development and experience, it was terrific for them."

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