Rovers Under-18s exited the FA Youth Cup at the quarter-final stage after a heartbreaking defeat to Blackpool at Ewood Park.

They looked to have fought their way to victory, coming from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 despite seeing George Wilson sent off.

But a William Dunne header with five minutes to go, and a Rowan Roache penalty deep in to injury-time saw the visitors progress.

Captain Hayden Carter had levelled things up for Rovers before hero of the last round Jack Vale looked to have put them in to the last four. But a late show from the visitors proved enough in what was a rip-roaring cup tie.

The visitors, who had knocked out West Ham and Southampton in their run to the last eight, dominated the opening half an hour.

Rowan Roache was catching the eye in midfield and his rasping 25 yard free-kick inside the opening three minutes sounded as a warning to Rovers.

That effort may have sailed just over the bar, but his 27th minute effort was within inches of handing the visitors the lead, crashing back off the crossbar. George Wilson was forced in to a goal-saving tackle on Nathan Shaw just as he looked set to put in the rebound.

Prior to that, Matthew Campbell in the Rovers goal made a triple save, keeping out a long range effort from Jack Newton before getting quickly to his feet to deny Shaw before gratefully gathering Thomas Williams’ daisy-cutter.

The game was exclusively being played in the Rovers half, though Brad Lynch did lead a rare burst forward for Rovers, only to shoot too close to Craig Thordarson.

Poor Blackpool finishing continued to come to Rovers’ rescue, with a gilt-edged chance going begging six minutes after the re-start. Ben Jacobson fires fired across Campbell from distance, his effort coming back off the upright, only for Owen Watkinson to somehow fire over the bar inside the six yard box with the goal at his mercy.

After hitting the woodwork for the fourth time of the night, Blackpool would finally get the goal their pressure deserved. Roache swung in a deep cross which Sinclair-Smith turned goalwards, and despite his initial effort coming back off the bar, he was there to turn in the rebound with 55 minutes on the watch.

Within three minutes, Rovers’ task was to get even more difficult. Wilson over-ran the ball and in his attempts to win it back, flew in to a tackle, catching Newton with a late lunge which earned him a deserved red card.

However, that kicked Rovers in to life as captain Carter equalised within four minutes of them going a man down. He met a terrific Lewis Thompson corner to force the ball home at the far post.

The game had come alive, much more even as a contest 10 v 11 than it had been when both had a full complement.

Hat-trick hero of the last round, Vale had been starved of service all night but he put Rovers ahead with 16 minutes to play. Lynch pounced on a loose ball and despite seeing his effort blocked, the ball fell kindly for Vale who buried a shot in to the top corner on the turn.

Lynch looked to put the game to bed, denied by  a flying Thordarson save.

Watkinson went close for the visitors as they pressed for a late equaliser which did come four minutes from time when substitute William Dunne found himself unmarked at the far post and headed beyond Campbell.

Then, in injury-time, a defensive mix-up saw Sam Barnes bring down Waktinson, with Roache making no mistake from the spot to ensure a semi-final spot for the Seasiders.

Rovers: Campbell, Wilson, Thompson, Buckley (Connell, 90), Jones, Barnes, Vale, Evans, Carter, Lynch (Pike, 78), Boyomo (Connolly, 62)

Subs:  Eastham, Dolan