ERIC Kinder had mixed emotions after his improving young Blackburn Rovers side drew 1-1 at U21s Premier League high flyers Liverpool last night.
While he was pleased by the way Rovers dominated their second-placed opponents for long periods, Kinder was left to rue the number of chances they missed before the break.
Devarn Green, Josh King and Darragh Lenihan all hit the woodwork before the visitors finally broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when striker Dean Rittenberg smashed home a penalty he had won.
Hyuga Tanner and the lively Green also forced Liverpool goalkeeper Yusuf Mersin into saves while Ryan Edwards headed two chances off target in a one-sided first half.
With returning first-team duo King and Dickson Etuhu replaced at the interval, the second half was a more even affair and the hosts levelled the contest in the 51st minute when Brad Smith’s inviting cross was turned into his own net by Edwards.
That was the way it stayed although Liverpool substitute Jordan Rossiter had a close-range header ruled out for offside before Will Beesley could only side foot wide with the goal at his mercy following a poor clearance from Mersin.
Rovers boss Kinder said: “We created the chances but we just couldn’t convert them.
“It wouldn’t have looked out of place if we’d have been five or six goals up at the break.
“At half-time we were so frustrated that it was only 1-0."
On Tuesday Rovers had gone down to a harsh 3-0 defeat at table-topping Fulham which followed a home win over Newcastle United and a home draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Kinder said: “We are absolutely delighted with the way things have gone over the last six weeks.
“There are signs that next season we’ll have a really good group of lads.
“It has been a hard season but we are starting to see the rewards now.
“It will be a young group next season and it will be fascinating watching them develop.
“I said to them that they could play together for four or five years and beyond.
“I’m excited by the prospect of watching the progress.”
Rovers first-team Gary Bowyer was present at Liverpool’s Academy in Kirkby to watch winger King and midfielder Etuhu make their returns from injury.
Kinder said: “Dickson and King were only ever going to play the first half.
“But they were a credit to the club for the way they went about the game.
“Their composure and experience was there for all to see and it will have been great for our young lads to play alongside them.”
Rovers return to U21s action a week on Monday when they take on Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village.