Damien Johnson was proud of his players, as a young Rovers side overcame an experienced Wigan outfit on penalties in last night’s Lancashire Senior Cup first round.
Rovers went with the same squad which had won their opening three games of the new Premier League 2 campaign, whilst Wigan fielded a side made up almost entirely of first team players, including the likes of Will Grigg, Noel Hunt, Gary Roberts, David Perkins, Ryan Colclough, Max Power, David Perkins and Alex Bruce.
The hosts stormed into a 2-0 lead thanks to a brace from Joe Rankin-Costello, only for a late Hunt double to send the tie to penalties.
After Grigg and Colclough missed successive spot-kicks for the visitors, Lewis Travis kept his cool to send Rovers through to round two and maintain the Under-23s’ unbeaten start to the season.
“When we saw their line-up we knew that it would be a real test for us,” said Johnson.
“I had a feeling they would rise to it and I was really pleased with the level of performance in the first-half and the quality of the goals.
“Obviously to go 2-0 up it was disappointing to lose it, but the good thing is that there were very valuable lessons for them to learn and the decisions you make when playing against wily senior pros because they will punish you.
“The lads will get so much out of it. It will be an invaluable night for us. There are some real good characters within the group and I knew that they would respond to the challenge in the right way.
“That’s the marker and level they have to get to consistently and we will keep pushing them and pushing them.”
Rovers Under-23s are back in action next Monday night (September 11) when they take on Middlesbrough at Ewood Park, kick-off 7pm.