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We Gave Everything: Stone

Clarets boss praises young side as Clarets lose out in cup final

7 May 2019

Steve Stone insisted his players couldn’t have given any more after they saw their Lancashire FA Senior Cup hopes ended by derby rivals Blackburn Rovers.

The Clarets’ Under-23s lost 2-0 at the County Ground as their injury problems finally caught up with them.

Central midfielders Josh Benson, Christian N’Guessan and Mace Goodridg were all absent, while top scorer Dan Agyei was forced off after less than half an hour with an ankle injury which required an X-ray.

Rovers first goal.JPG

The Clarets still held sway before the break against a Category One Academy side playing their football in the top tier of Premier League 2.

But they couldn’t find a goal and Blackburn struck twice in the last 20 minutes to lift the trophy for the first time since 2011.

“I already knew they are an Academy we are trying to get to,” said Stone, at the end of his first season as Under-23s’ boss.

“What they have brought through over the years, we have to try and match that.

“It probably just showed tonight, in terms of the quality they had on the ball and what they have done over recent years.

“But you can’t ask any more of the lads I have put out there today.

Bobby Thomas.JPG

Bobby Thomas and Jordan Cropper (bottom) were outstanding in the Clarets' back four

“We’ve got a 16-year-old up front, who is just leaving school, a first-year scholar, a second-year scholar and you have to be immensely proud of what they’ve done. I’m absolutely delighted with them.

"The moment Dan went off it slipped away from us a little bit. But they still stuck at it.

“Obviously the result isn’t the one we wanted but I am delighted with what I saw.

“You have your moments in games where you have to score and we had a period of pressure in the first half with long throws, free-kicks and corners going in when we had to score.

“Then we had a couple of moments in the second half where we crossed things into the box and you have to get somebody on the end of that.

Jordan Cropper.JPG

“Unfortunately, we didn’t and then they showed their quality and were ruthless when they did. It’s a tough lesson for us, but we’ll crack on for next year.”

Burnley’s campaign came up just short in the search for honours, but the side has moved forward in just a second season as a Category 2 Academy with Stone hungry for more next season.

He added: “The progress has been amazing. It’s the second year of the under-23s and to come to a final like this, to be fourth in the league and the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup is a great start.

“We’re delighted with it, but we have to push on now.

“We will take stock, see where we’ve done some really good things and take stock of things we can do better, as all football clubs and coaches should, and we’ll try and be better next season.

“It’s as simple as that. We have to drive this harder.”


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