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We weren't at the races, admits Billy

Youth team chief reflects on a disappointing night for his charges against Blackpool

7 March 2018

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Billy Barr was left ruing what could have been for his side following their dramatic, late FA Youth Cup elimination at the hands of Blackpool at Ewood Park on Monday night.

Some fine performances in their cup advanture earned Rovers the right to tackle the Tangerines at the quarter-finals stage, but Barr admitted his side were lacklustre on a night where Rowan Roache's 90th minute penalty sent Blackpool through.

And Barr believes a slow start set the rhythmn for his side - who had to play the final 30 minutes with 10 men after George Wilson's red card.

“As good as we’ve been in the first five rounds I thought we were awful in the first-half, no bravery, I thought Blackpool were better than us, pressed better than us and if I’m being honest I thought we were lucky to come in at 0-0," he reflected.

“The second half I thought we started better, but Blackpool score first, we lost our discipline, George [Wilson] will learn from it, but down to 10 men we got in to a matchwinning situation and didn’t do it.

“We’re speaking about people’s careers. We felt we didn’t have any leaders or organisers, kept getting deeper and with no pressure on the ball it was inevitably going to keep coming in to our box.

“Fair play to Blackpool. We didn’t underestimate them as a staff because we knew it would be difficult, they executed their game-plan far better than we did."

And Barr concluded by hoping the youngsters can learn to see games out in the future thanks to that late heartbreak.

At 2-1 up with four minutes to go, Rovers struggled to get out of their own half, with the ball struggling to stick when it was cleared up to Jack Vale.

And eventually that pressure told when William Dunne headed home on 86 minutes prior to Roache's winner.

“I said to Shez [Mike Sheron] on the touchline ‘it’s not over yet’," Barr added.

“We kept putting things forward to Jack Vale who had a couple of little sniffs, but we couldn’t get any support to him as we kept getting deeper and deeper.

“There’s a lot of disappointed lads in the dressing room but they only have themselves to blame for the way they went about their work.

“They have taken the credit when the games have gone well and they have to now take it on the chin, reflect, look at themselves and ask ‘could I have done more?’ and the next time they’re in that situation they will have to draw on that experience.

“It is a great learning experience, don’t ever underestimate an opposition and turn up and play when you want because it doesn’t work like that.

“It was a disappointing night on what has been a disappointing season results wise but we have managed to get players through which is our job in development football."

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