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CUP FINAL PREVIEW: Burnley U23s v Blackburn Rovers U23s

Steve Stone looks to inspire derby success and bring back trophy

7 May 2019

Steve Stone will urge his young players to seize the moment and make a memory for life by winning the Lancashire FA Senior Cup.

The Clarets’ Under-23s meet Blackburn Rovers in the final at the FA County Ground, Leyland tonight (Tuesday, KO 7pm).

And with Burnley looking to lift the trophy for the first time since 1992/93, Stone has spelled out what it would mean to finish the season with some silverware by beating their local rivals.

“I won this competition – for the Nottingham FA’s Cup – back in the day and I still remember it, 30-odd years on,” said Stone, who came through the youth ranks at Nottingham Forest to launch a playing career that brought him nine England caps.

Steve Stone stock.jpg

“It’s something that will live forever in the memories of their youth career.

“Hopefully they’ll go on to do better things than this, but it will live in their memory for what you can try and achieve.

“To win any trophy, at any level, is important. It’s about a winning mentality and that’s what we’re driving here.

“This is an opportunity for them all to put a marker down, to stand out.

“I was disappointed in some of the other competitions where we went out. In the league we went out and didn’t get to where we should have.

“And this is where we go, ‘right, last game of the season, give your all’.

“Forget about the score sometimes, just give your all and see where you get and that’s what we’ll be looking at.”

Stone guided his team to the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup and fourth place in the U23 Professional Development League’s northern group – missing out on a place in the play-offs by four points.

Agyei goal.jpg

Top scorer Dan Agyei helped launch the Clarets run to the final

In the LFA Cup, the Clarets have got past Barrow AFC, Fleetwood Town and Rochdale to earn a crack at Rovers and the chance to win the competition for a 13th time.

They will have to upset the form book to do it, with Blackburn – record 18-time winners of the competition and seeking a first success since 2011 – playing at a higher level in U23 football.

But Stone hopes the prospect of up-setting their local rivals will inspire his players to overcome a Rovers side coached by ex-Blackburn and Northern Ireland midfielder Damien Johnson which finished fifth in the top tier of Premier League Two.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from in the country, derbies mean everything to the people from that area,” added the Clarets’ U23 boss.

“And it should do. It shows passion on both sides - both football clubs - and it’s something I will instill into the players, just as that extra motivation to try to get them to get a result.

“But I also know that they’re a good side. They’re a Category One Academy with some good players and they know what they’re doing.

“In terms of their Academy, I think they’re a good few years ahead of us in the set-up and we look to aspire to something like that in the not-too-distant future.

“But on the day, we will set up to give them a proper game.”

Tonight’s final is all-ticket, with tickets no longer on sale and no admission on the gate.

Live up-dates will be available on Twitter via @BurnleyOfficial.


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