Luton Town U18s superb run in the FA Youth Cup was ended after a 1-0 defeat against Championship side Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night.
Paul Driver’s side did themselves proud on the night at Ewood Park, going close on a number of occasions, only to find Rovers goalkeeper Andy Fisher in inspiring form.
Roared on by almost 200 travelling fans, the Hatters made one change as Driver brought in Kavan Cotter for Harry Bean.
Rovers, fourth in the Premier League’s Northern U18s division, came into the game eyeing a third semi-final place in six seasons and almost grabbed the lead within 60 seconds only for Tre Pemberton to sky over Liam Gooch’s crossbar from 10 yards.
Luton’s leading goalscorer Freddie Hinds had the visitors’ first effort, shooting at Fisher from distance on six minutes, before Blackburn moved ahead on 15 minutes, Lewis Hardcastle’s low free-kick deflecting past Gooch.
It almost got worse for the visitors on quarter of an hour when captain Akin Famewo’s clearance struck the foot of the post and bounced to safety.
Hatters started to grown into the contest as Jack Snelus saw his effort parried clawed away by Fisher who then produced an even better stop to deny George Murray from close range.
Gooch had to be alert to keep out Ramirez Howarth’s shot, before Hatters’ James Justin’s attempt was wide of the target.
The visitors then came within inches of a leveller as Snelus unleashed a shot destined for the top corner, only for Fisher to flick out a hand and fingertip the ball on to the bar.
Cameron McJannet then fired wide as Luton changed ends in search for a leveller, Hinds’ snap-shot going close.
Rovers almost increased their lead on the hour mark as Andy Wharton’s close range header appeared to have the beating of Gooch, but he reacted well to save.
As the game opened up, Gooch held another Blackburn header, while Tyreeq Bakinson’s low effort from the edge of the box was saved by Fisher.
The Rovers stopper held a deflected Justin free kick with 10 minutes left before Gooch stopped a low shot from Joe Rankin-Costello at the other end moments later.
Late on, Josh Askew drilled wide for Rovers, before Hatters almost forced extra time only for Famewo to head wide, before Cotter’s 18-yard shot was held by Fisher.
Hatters: Gooch, Justin, McJannet, Famewo, McGhan-George, Bakinson, Atkinson, Snelus, Cotter, Murray (Bean 68), Hinds (Verney 68).
Subs not used: Jones, Davey, Brown.