YOUTH team boss Terry Pashley knows his players face a real challenge to turn around their FA Youth Cup semi-final against Blackburn at Turf Moor tomorrow night.
But after a 1-0 first leg defeat on Thursday night, he believes the young Clarets can still knock out their derby rivals in front of a vociferous home crowd.
A physical Rovers side had the edge at Ewood Park, giving them little time and space to play their passing football, but Pashley feels his side stood up to be counted, particularly in the second half, and feels they can carve out the chances to win the tie: “To be only one goal down, the tie’s still there to be played for.
“It’s going to be a tough ask, but if we can get the players to believe in themselves like they did in the second half, and add that little bit extra quality in the final third that we were just lacking a little bit on Thursday, hopefully we can turn the tie around.
“The next goal in the tie is going to be vital, and that’s what we’ll be stressing to the boys.
“We do need the next goal.”
Osayamen Osawe crossed for Raheem Hanley to glance home what proved to be the winner on Thursday just after the half-hour, but otherwise neither keeper was seriously tested - although Rovers’ Curtis Haley had a header deflected against the bar in the second half.
Blackburn centre back Jack O’Connell was sent off for a second bookable offence with 13 minutes remaining, but Burnley couldn’t press home their man advantage, and Pashley said: “When they ended up down to 10 men it would have been nice if we could have just nicked one to get back level but it wasn’t to be.
“But I’m really proud of the boys for the way they responded at half-time. I thought they were excellent in the second half.
“It was a physically tough game. They’re a big side who put you under pressure with a lot of balls in the box, and we’ve got to cope with it.
“I felt in the first half we were a little bit tentative and not our normal selves.
“Having said that I think you’ve got to give Blackburn some credit because they did well to stop us playing.
“The way we responded in the second half I was really pleased.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve actually created any clear-cut chance, they were more half chances.
“On another day with a bit better final ball we could have nicked one.
“The teams were evenly matched in the second half, and the game can hinge on little things.”
And after playing in front of a five-figure crowd for the first time, Pashley believes his players will be better for the experience: “They really enjoyed it (the occasion).
“The danger is the occasion can get to them, but that’s the learning curve.
“You’ve got to learn to deal with these situations if you want to get into our first team and play on a regular basis.
“That’s part of it, dealing with all the emotions that go with it.
“But obviously now they’ve experienced it once they’ll be better prepared for Wednesday.”
Over 3,000 Burnley fans made the trip down the M65 in a 10,069 crowd - with that figure set to be surpassed at Turf Moor.
And Pashley was thrilled at the backing his side received: “The supporters were fantastic.
“For 3,000 people to make the journey across, every one of the lads thanks them for their support, and hopefully they’ll really get behind them again on Wednesday and help us through that round.”
But Rovers present a different test to what the young Clarets have encountered all season, and Pashley knows his boys will have to become men: “The first 20 minutes the ball was in our half for the majority of the time, balls were going in our box and we were trying to head them.
“It was tough. I won’t make any bones about it.
“They imposed their game on us, stopped us playing and put us on the back foot, but we got through it and the way the boys responded in the second half was excellent.
“They took the responsibility, took the game to them.
“It was the belief we showed, because I thought that was just lacking a little bit in the first half.
“There’s only probably West Bromwich Albion, in the second half, that really forced us back like that.
“In all the other games we’ve been able to get the ball down and play.
“Every credit to them.
“That’s what it’s about, trying to impose your game and dealing with what they’ve got.
“But there were a few situations that could have got us a goal.
“They hit the bar as well with a bit of a scramble. I don’t think anything was really clear cut, but it can turn the game.”
Both sides had early half-chances, with Shay McCartan firing over from a lovely lay-off from Cameron Howieson, before lay-off before Osawe pulled the ball back for Haley, who opened his right foot but couldn’t keep his shot down.
Steve Hewitt sent a 30-yarder over the top before John O’Sullivan was booked for foul on Howieson, crudely preventing a break, but Rovers went ahead when Osawe’s cross from the left was headed home by Hanley.
Osawe headed at Cook before Clarets midfielder Archie Love curled a shot just wide, and before the break, O’Connell picked up his first booking for a cynical foul on McCartan.
After the break, Burnley came out in determined manner and Aryn Williams hooked a shot wide after a short corner, before Luke Gallagher dragged an effort wide from Burnley’s best chance.
Hanley’s header was deflected onto the bar from a long throw, and despite O’Connell being sent off, the closest Burnley came to levelling was when Hewitt fired over the top after a patient passing move.
Hewitt was on the bench for the first team’s 2-2 draw with West Ham on Saturday at Turf Moor, while Howieson also warmed up with the squad ahead of the game.
Boss Eddie Howe said: “Stevie’s deserved that this year. I think he’s performed very well for the youth side - I’ve seen him a number of times – and behind him there is a couple more waiting for any more opportunities that come about.
“We’ve only got two first team players injured at the moment so I’m sure we’ll pick up a couple more. Other lads will get involved.
“It’s good to see and good experience for him and a chance for him to sample the first-team atmosphere, albeit from the bench, it will be good for him.
“Cameron also warmed up, just to take it all in.”
Howieson, 17, is set to be offered a professional contract amid reported interest from Liverpool and Newcastle United.
While Tom Anderson and McCartan are also believed to be among the youth team players who are likely to receive offers.
Howe added: “We’ve started negotiations with several players. That’s been in the pipeline now for a long time so hopefully we’ll have some news on that in the coming days.
“With good young players in a team that has got to the stage it has in the youth cup you’re very wary of predators and people watching your best players.
“We don’t want to lose anybody.
“I’m sure they’re committed to Burnley and they know that there’s a way through now with the size of the squad we have.
“Hopefully they’ll see they’re not far away from playing regular football in the Championship.”