BLACKBURN Rovers produced a superb performance to record a dramatic 2-1 victory at Aston Villa last night to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup.

After falling behind to Callum O’Hare fortuitous 24th-minute goal, Rovers equalised nine minutes into the second half through Lewis Hardcastle.


And they settled a last-16 clash which they had dominated when Tre Pemberton scored in added time.

Rovers, who had set-up the Villa Park tie with a thrilling extra-time 3-2 home win over Leicester City last month, trailed at the break despite doing all the running in the first half.

Pemberton was fouled 15 seconds into the encounter by O’Hare, who escaped with just a booking, but he recovered to send over a cross that Lewis Mansell could not convert.

Mansell then saw a shot saved after a one-two with Joe Rankin-Costello, who had an effort blocked.

Joel Steer was denied a clear run on goal by Mitch Clark’s excellent challenge before Mansell was just unable to put a finishing touch to a flowing move.

It came against the run of play, then, when Villa went in front when Corey Taylor’s cross was turned into the net by O’Hare, although it could go down as an own goal from Scott Wharton.

Rovers tried to offer an immediate response through Steer and then Hardcastle, who saw one shot easily saved and another hit the post.

Next it was Villa’s turn to rattle the woodwork as O’Hare’s audacious attempt came down off the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.

Relieved by the left-off Rovers restored parity in the 54th minute when Willem Tomlinson’s corner broke to Hardcastle, who blasted home.

Lancashire Telegraph:

And moments later the match was almost turned on its head when a long pass over the top was brilliantly brought down by Rankin-Costello, who lifted the ball just wide.

Mansell then headed another Tomlinson corner wide and a free kick from the same player over before his deft touch found Rankin-Costello, who was not far away.

Villa threatened through Jack Clarke but one team continued to dominate and Ryan Nyambe was unable to put a finishing touch to a barnstorming run before Tomlinson went close with a trademark long-range strike.

But in the first of three minutes of injury-time Rovers got the winning goal they completely merited.

A pass was threaded through to Mansell and, while he was denied by the Villa goalkeeper, there was man-of-the-match Pemberton to convert the rebound.

Rovers will now play Preston North End or Luton Town at home in the last eight.