Rovers’ extra experience told in the closing stages, according to stand-in Birmingham City boss Craig Gardner.

Adam Armstrong scored either side of a Harvey Elliott chip as Rovers ran-out 5-2 winners in the Ewood Park finale.

After guiding the Blues to safety with an impressive run of form, Lee Bowyer opted to hand minutes to Academy graduates and fringe players in the final two matches in which they were beaten 4-0 and 5-2.

Gardner took the side at Ewood, where Bowyer was absent for family reasons, and he felt the challenge of Championship football told on an inexperienced side.

He said: “They have been tested, I have been there myself as a young player coming through. You play a game and it’s ‘Yeah, this is alright this is, this is easy, what’s the fuss?’

“Then you go again it’s ‘ok, now I know what’s happening. That big step up for them is important.

“To play back-to-back games in the Championship is a real test but I think the young players, and the players that haven’t played that much coped with it quite well.

“They had a strong team out and we matched them for pretty much most of the game. Probably the last half hour we faded which is expected. “

Birmingham had led midway through the first half through Kristian Pedersen, while substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz headed in an equaliser just after the break.

Gardner revealed Bowyer had been in contact with Bowyer throughout the game as they carried out their plan of handing minutes to young players.

“We were constantly in touch with the gaffer, before, during, half-time, after and once we got safe we had a plan, we have stuck to that plan and that plan was to give the players what they deserve,” Gardner added.

“The younger players have had some great seasons with the Under 23s or 18s and we think it’s only fair we give them the opportunities that they deserve.

“That gives them that pathway from the academy in the first team which I know Lee wants to do.

“We are all behind him, we wish him well, we wish his family well and hopefully everything will be okay.”