BLACKBURN Rovers Ladies suffered FA Women’s Cup heartbreak as they were beaten 2-0 at Women’s Super League side Reading.
With the game goalless Gemma Donnelly’s young charges had the chance to set up a major fourth-round shock when they were awarded a 75th-minute penalty.
But Rio Hardy saw her spot-kick superbly saved and Reading made Rovers pay as Fran Kirby and Helen Ward scored in quick succession in extra-time.
Rovers assistant manager Amanda Goodwin said: “We did not look like a Northern Prem team and we didn’t make them look like a Super League team.
“We were under no pressure and showed them no respect and we couldn’t have asked for any more from the players.
“They applied themselves professionally throughout and were absolutely immense.
“We are disappointed to miss the penalty, as we would have seen the game out, but that’s football.
“We had eight U18s in our squad while they had much more experienced internationals in theirs.
“It is a terrific learning curve for our young players, some of whom were playing in the FA Women’s Cup for the first time.
“There are loads of positives to take forward and if we play like that against teams in our division, we know that we’ve got nothing to fear and we will pick up plenty of positive results between now and the end of the season.”