IN A competition which introduced a new-look format last season to provide more opportunities for young players, Tony Mowbray did just that for Rovers.

By the time Bury scored what proved to be the winning goal, the home side boasted just two players over the age of 21, with six of the 11 who finished the game having graduated through the club’s Academy.

The youngsters worked incredibly hard on the first-team stage, but were punished late on by a more experienced Shakers side who turned the screw as the youngsters began to tire in the latter stages.

But while the youngers could be proud of their efforts, on a night which offered opportunities for several first-teamers to push their claims for starting spots in the league side, there were few positives to take.

Going in to the match, there were plenty of interesting sub-plots on show for Rovers on a night in which they named a starting XI with a blend of youth and experience.

The latter was provided by Danny Graham, Craig Conway, Peter Whittingham and Ben Gladwin.. Harry Chapman was also hoping to build on his impressive start to life in a Rovers shirt with another start in a cup competition, while full back Sam Hart was brought in for his full debut.

Young prospects Andrew Fisher, Lewis Travis and Matty Platt were included in a youthful defence, which also saw Ryan Nyambe return to the fold after a month out with ankle problem.

Indeed, the Rovers line-up had an average age of just 23, with 17-year-old West Brom loanee Rekeem Harper staring his first game at Ewood Park.

Bury, on the other hand, named a side packed with Football League experience, befitting of a team that has had an indifferent start to their League One season and who do not have a game this weekend.

However, the teamsheets offered more intrigue than the opening 45 minutes which passed without incident, and passed Rovers by.

The visitors settled the better and enjoyed more territory and possession but a Whittingham free-kick which was curled over the bar 10 minutes before the break was the first sight of goal either side had.

Then, in the 42nd minute, came the game’s first shot on goal with Graham pulling in to the left channel to pick up a Gladwin pass, but Leo Fasan was there to tip the effort over the bar.

And within 60 seconds Bury managed an effort on goal of their own with Fisher doing well to get down low to his left as Michael Smith turned a Jordan Williams cross goalwards

To their credit, a young Rovers back four, of which Sam Hart was the oldest at 21, was handling the visitors’ threat well, defending their 18 yard box with a series of good blocks and interceptions.

After Whittingham wasted a free-kick opportunity in the first-half, Conway took over set piece duty shortly after the break, with his effort from 25 yards bending round the wall, but just wide of the post.

Sadly, that wasn’t a sign of things to come where goalscoring opportunities were concerned with Mowbray turning to his bench in the form of Joe Nuttall and Joe Rankin-Costello - the latter coming on for his senior debut.

Shortly after, Conway went close to what would have been a fortuitous opener, with Fasan forced to back-peddle to tip wide an overhit cross.

But Bury began to impose themselves as the game moved into the final quarter. Chris Maguire saw a free-kick saved by Fisher who was then equal to a Harry Bunn effort.

The home keeper was then relieved to see a chip from Maguire land on the roof of the net as the attacker pounced on a loose ball.

Rovers, now with a very young side on the pitch, went close when Gladwin had a dipping effort tipped away by the diving Fasan.

However, the Rovers youngsters were beginning to tire and fell behind with 12 minutes to go. Bury broke down the right and Maguire picked out Bunn at the far post and, despite Fisher keeping out his initial header, the striker was able to force the loose ball over the line.

Fisher made an outstanding stop before the whistle, keeping out an effort from Rohan Ince from point-blank range, while the closest Rovers came to forcing penalties was a Stefan Mols effort which flashed wide of the target.

Their participation in the competition will now go down to the final group game at Rochdale next month.