Capital One Cup 1st Round
|Carlisle United||(1) 3 – 3 (0)
AET; 4-3 pens
|Amoo 14, 115, Guy 62||Cairney 52, Taylor 56, Judge 95|
|Referee: R. Clark||Attendance: 4,372|
Cumbria and the Football League Cup (or Capital One Cup as it is now branded) has rarely been a happy combination for Blackburn Rovers and so it proved again in this first round tie. The Rovers have now met Carlisle three times in this competition and on each occasion have come out on the wrong end of the result. Even neighbouring Workington have also managed to embarrass the club in this competition. The Rovers, riding high in the First Division, were brought crashing down to earth when a Ken Furphy-led Workington inflicted a 5–1 thrashing on them at Ewood Park in October 1964. Indeed, the only time the Rovers have managed to overcome a side from Cumbria was when Furphy enjoyed a 2–0 win over his old club in a first round tie at Ewood Park in August 1971.
Gary Bowyer rang the changes from the side that had done so well at Pride Park just a few days earlier. Eight changes were made as he looked to give other members of the senior squad competitive action. Included in the changes were senior debuts for Simon Eastwood and Yann Songo’o. Despite the Rovers’ appalling record in this competition against clubs from this part of the world, there were few amongst the large travelling contingent from Ewood who expected anything other than a comfortable Rovers victory. The fact that Leyton Orient should have thrashed the home side at Brunton Park just a few days earlier merely added to the sense of formality about the outcome.
Sadly, those illusions were shattered after just 14 minutes when the home side took the lead. Having looked anything but secure in defending balls into the box during the opening stages, it was no surprise when a routine corner evaded Eastwood and his defenders and found the head of David Amoo on the back post, who promptly headed home.
The Rovers pushed the home side back in search of an equaliser, but the Carlisle defence stood firm and on the occasions when gaps appeared the Rovers seemed reluctant to shoot on sight. Tom Cairney, who was making good use of the ball in midfield, did create a super opening for Josh Morris, but sadly his shot flew narrowly wide.
The game developed into a classic end-to-end cup tie with the Rovers creating a number of good openings but lacking the quality in the final third. Josh King troubled the home defence with his pace, but his final ball was often lacking and as a result most of his good work was nullified by his poor deliveries.
In contrast, Carlisle caused a number of problems with balls into the Rovers’ penalty area.
The Rovers almost snatched an equaliser on 36 minutes when a corner found the head of Chris Taylor on the back post, but unfortunately his header skimmed off the crossbar. Amoo also came close to doubling the lead, but his header flew wide of Eastwood’s goal.
Rovers continued to enjoy plenty of possession during the remainder of the first half, but there was simply no end product. The passing was neat and tidy, but once the ball reached the final third there seemed to be a dearth of ideas with regard to making the telling final pass.
The Rovers made a change at half-time with Jason Lowe replacing Alex Marrow, who appeared to have picked up a knock.
Within ten minutes of the restart the Rovers had turned the game on its head. Within that period the Rovers had equalised, missed a penalty and then taken the lead. On 52 minutes the Rovers were on level terms when Tom Cairney notched his first goal for the club. King raced down the left and then pulled the ball back to Cairney, who was ideally placed on the edge of the area. The midfield man wasted no time in shooting and his effort deflected off Liam Noble and found the back of the net with Mark Gillespie completely wrong-footed and, although he got a hand to the ball, he was unable to keep it out.
If the Carlisle ‘keeper felt he might have done better with the effort from Cairney, he became a saviour two minutes later when he produced a save to keep out a David Dunn penalty. King was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge by Paul Thirlwell and Dunn stepped up to take the spot-kick. The normally reliable Dunn went for placement rather than power, but Gillespie read the kick and got down to make a save, much to the consternation of the travelling fans.
However, on 56 minutes the Rovers took the lead when Cairney delivered a corner to the back post, where Taylor rose and headed home.
Hopes that the Rovers would take control of what had been a very even affair were dashed on 62 minutes when King tried to dribble the ball out of the area but was robbed by Mark Beck, who promptly crossed to the far post for strike partner Lewis Guy to head home. In truth it was a dreadful piece of play by King and summed up a pretty indifferent evening for the Norwegian international.
For the neutral the game became a thrilling end-to-end affair, but for the Rovers fans it was all becoming a little too close for comfort. Indeed, but for a brilliant late save from Eastwood, who managed to get a hand to a diving header from Beck, the Rovers might well have lost in 90 minutes.
The start of extra-time brought another change by the Rovers with Alan Judge replacing the ineffective Markus Olsson. On 95 minutes, Cairney sent a free-kick towards the Carlisle area which was headed out as far as Judge. The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international wasted no time in volleying the ball into the back of the net.
A thrilling cup tie was then interrupted by the attention-seeking Mr Clark, who clearly felt that he wasn’t getting sufficient attention in such an absorbing game. A fairly innocuous-looking incident which saw Cairney, as he was falling to the ground, grab a Carlisle player. Mr Clark sprinted over and seemed unable to contain his glee as he pulled out a second yellow and then a red card for Cairney.
With their backs to the wall the Rovers tried to play out the remainder of extra-time, but the home side were clearly given fresh encouragement by the actions of Mr Clark.
With just five minutes remaining the home side grabbed the goal that their fighting spirit undoubtedly deserved. Amoo raced past the struggling Todd Kane and from the corner of the penalty area he unleashed a fierce drive that flew past Eastwood into the net. It was a terrific goal and one which took the match to penalties.
Judge converted with ease and, when Alex Salmon missed, the Rovers took a 2–0 lead when Lowe converted. Beck and Jordan Rhodes duly scored to give the Rovers a seemingly comfortable 3–1 lead. James Berrett narrowed the margin, but then Taylor inexplicably blasted his penalty high over the bar and Noble equalised. Josh Morris stepped up and crashed his effort against the bar to leave David Symington with the task of beating Eastwood to complete an unlikely giant-killing act and send the Carlisle fans into a state of unbridled joy.
Simon Eastwood had a mixed evening on his debut. He looked a little unsure on crosses during the early stages, but a brilliant save took the game into extra-time.
Todd Kane and Josh Morris had uncomfortable evenings when having to defend. Of the two, Morris looked better going forward and was unfortunate with one effort not to find the back of the net. Kane, who has had a poor pre-season, continued the indifferent form he showed at Derby. However, as a young player it is only to be expected that his form will have ups and downs and hopefully his form will return sooner rather than later.
The centre-back pairing of Yann Songo’o and Gael Givet was far from successful. Songo’o will clearly take time to adjust to English football, but he showed glimpses that he will be a useful addition to the squad and he was a particular threat in the opposition area at set-pieces. Givet was not his usual reliable self and clearly the speculation surrounding his future is taking its toll.
In midfield Tom Cairney caught the eye with a range of passing that suggests he will become an important part of the Rovers engine room. Alex Marrow had a steady first half but appeared to receive a knock which saw Jason Lowe replace him at half-time. Lowe had a pretty decent game and looked to drive the team forward at every opportunity. He combined well with Cairney and they seemed to complement each other better in midfield than the Marrow–Lowe combination.
Chris Taylor had a very good game on the right wing until he got on the scoresheet. After that, he seemed to tire and drift out of the game. Markus Olsson was fairly anonymous on the left and the Rovers improved in that area of the field once Judge came on. Judge was his usual bundle of energy and scored a superb goal.
David Dunn filled the role behind the striker but wasn’t at his best with some of his passing. However, Dunny always brings commitment to the field and even though some of his passes went astray, he never stopped trying to find the gaps in the home defence. He was replaced late on by Jordan Rhodes, who had another quiet game. The one chance that came his way to get clear of the home defence came to nothing because his first touch was so poor.
Josh King was given the task of playing up front and although he impressed with his pace, the reality was that there was very little in the way of end product. He continually ran into trouble and his final ball was continually found wanting. Moreover, his attempt to dribble out of his own penalty area, which resulted in him losing the ball and Carlisle scoring, was unforgiveable.
It was a night to forget in many ways and although Gary Bowyer will look for the positives, the truth is that there were a number of performances that weren’t up to standard and the team in general was never able to stamp its authority on League One opposition.
Mark Gillespie; Brad Potts, Danny Livesey, Paul Thirlwell, Reece James (Patrick Brough 43); David Amoo, James Berrett, Liam Noble, Josh Gillies (David Symington 89); Mark Beck, Lewis Guy (Alex Salmon 101)
Subs not used: Greg Fleming (gk), Mike Edwards, Josh Todd, Jack Lynch
Manager: Greg Abbott
Simon Eastwood; Todd Kane, Yann Songo’o, Gael Givet, Josh Morris; Chris Taylor, Alex Marrow (Jason Lowe 46), Tom Cairney, Markus Olsson (Alan Judge 91); David Dunn (Jordan Rhodes 93); Josh King
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Leon Best, Anthony O’Connor, Fabio Nunes
Manager: Gary Bowyer
Carlisle United – None
Blackburn Rovers – Jason Lowe, Tom Cairney
Blackburn Rovers – Tom Cairney
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