PETER Beardsley admitted Blackburn Rovers looked “a yard sharper” than his Newcastle United side in last night’s Under-21 Premier League Cup tie.
Blackburn won the quarter-final 1-0 at St James’s Park thanks to Dean Rittenberg’s first half goal, while Olivier Kemen was shown a second yellow card for Newcastle deep into second-half stoppage-time.
It proved a frustrating night for Newcastle’s youngsters against a physically strong Blackburn side, and Beardsley afterwards expressed his disappointment.
He told the Gazette: “Any game you lose, you’re disappointed, especially with a cup, because there’s no comeback.
“In the league, you can sort of accept it occasionally, but in the cup, you obviously always want to win.
“They looked physically bigger than us. I’m not saying they were older than us, and they may not have been to be fair to them, but they looked physically stronger.
“They looked probably a yard sharper, which is obviously something we have to look at.
“To be fair to them, they had a gameplan, and once you go 1-0 up, it’s obviously easier to defend.
“The first goal changes the whole complexion for everybody, and we just weren’t good enough to break them down.”
Callum Roberts and Adam Campbell started the game for Newcastle, with the pair still allowed to appear for the club’s development teams as part of their loan to Gateshead.
Roberts was forced off late on with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, but Beardsley afterwards said the 17-year-old was “OK”, and was withdrawn as a precaution.
Newcastle did not create too many clear-cut opportunities against Blackburn, although Gael Bigirimana had a free-kick which deflected just past the post and visiting defender Ryan Nyambe almost slid the ball into his own net late on.
Blackburn’s goal came on 21 minutes when Jordan Slew’s cross was bundled in by Rittenberg from close range, while Slew and Jack O’Connell missed good chances.
NEWCASTLE UNITED U21S: Pearson, Barlaser, Laidler, Kemen, Williams, Gillesphey, Gilliead (Heardman 66), Bigirimana, Campbell, Smith (Quinn 76), Roberts (Broccoli 76). Subs not used: Atkinson, Harker.
Booked: Kemen 45, Bigirimana 90.
Sent off: Kemen 90.