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[Archived] News Article -> 2011/12 Carling Cup Match Report: Rovers 3 Leyton Orient 2

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Carling Cup 3rd Round

Blackburn Rovers(1) 3 – 2 (0)Leyton Orient

Roberts (pen) 44, Rochina 71

Vukcevic 75

Mooney 64, Cox 86

Referee: C. Webster Attendance: 7,104

The Carling Cup, or the Football League Cup that once was, has become something of an enigma over recent years. It is, perhaps, the one competition that all Premier League clubs believe they can win and yet it is the one competition which often sees those same clubs field fringe players in the early rounds and risk an embarrassing elimination. This match perfectly illustrated the dilemma that many Premier League managers face — the need to progress in the competition but at the same time give "game" time to those who regularly sit on the subs bench or languish in the reserves.

The fact that Steve Kean could rest so many of his senior players and still win — and the scoreline in no way reflects the dominance of the Rovers — merely highlights the gap, or should it be chasm, that has opened up between the Premier League and the lower divisions of the Football League. Over the years the League Cup has been a banana skin that the Rovers have regularly slipped up on. Wrexham, Rochdale, Workington, Stockport County, Exeter City and the rest have all emerged from the depths of the lower divisions to give the Rovers a bloody nose. Today the manager could make eight changes from the side that played in the league a couple of days ago and still progress to the next round at a canter. Forget the scoreline, the Rovers could and should have won this game by a far wider margin, such was their dominance throughout much of the match. Indeed, but for an inspired goalkeeping display from Lee Butcher, the match would have been over long before Orient managed to get on the scoresheet.

The attendance of barely 7,000 reflected the lack of enthusiasm amongst the Ewood faithful and one suspects that that figure was only boosted by Saturday's performance against Arsenal. Certainly, judging by the queues at the ticket office before kick-off, it would appear that many had made a last-minute decision to attend.

The first half was totally dominated by the Rovers and yet, for all their efforts, they only had a Jason Roberts penalty as reward for their endeavours. The Rovers moved the ball about on the slick surface with ease, and time and time again they were able to exploit the gaps down the flanks with Martin Olsson enjoying his role as a raiding full-back. However, the star of the first forty-five minutes for the Rovers was undoubtedly Ruben Rochina. Although seemingly designated to play on the left of midfield, the young Spaniard seemed to have licence to roam at will. He was a constant thorn in the side of the opposition, who failed to get to grips with the steady stream of tricks, flicks and back-heels that are the hallmark of his play. Like so many players of his ilk, Rochina can frustrate as well as delight and at times he seems to be unaware of other colleagues, but once his youthful ebullience can be harnessed into a team dynamic, what a valuable addition to the squad he is going to be. Watching him he reminds me of Duncan McKenzie and if Kean can harness his talent in the same way that Howard Kendall did with McKenzie, the young Spaniard could well make a major impact at Ewood Park.

The only goal of the first period came on the brink of half-time when Olsson was brought down by Elliott Omozusi as he broke into the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Roberts confidently sent Butcher the wrong way to give the Rovers a deserved lead.

Nick Blackman, who had been largely ineffective, was withdrawn during the break and Junior Hoilett was introduced at the start of the second half. Once again, the Rovers enjoyed the greater share of the play and Butcher was forced to make good saves from Roberts and Simon Vukcevic. The Montenegro international had shown odd flashes in the first period but seemed to warm to his task as the second half progressed. He worked hard down the left wing and was always prepared to cut inside and have a crack at goal and only a superb tip over the bar from Butcher thwarted Vukcevic when his powerful header seemed destined for the net.

Apart from one effort from Dave Mooney which was well saved by the legs of Mark Bunn, Orient offered very little as an attacking force, but the Rovers, for all their possession, failed to find the key to unlock a stubborn defence. On 64 minutes the Rovers paid for their failure in front of goal when the visitors drew level. George Porter broke down the right and, when he crossed to Mooney, the Orient man found he had time and space in which to pick his spot and curl the ball past Bunn with the Rovers defence looking anything but secure.

Fortunately, the Rovers quickly regained the lead to calm the jittering nerves in the meagre crowd. Roberts, who had a very effective second half, powered his way into the area and managed to get off a shot despite the attentions of defenders. Butcher could only parry the effort into the path of Rochina, who tucked it away from close range.

Butcher made a superb save to deny Hoilett after the youngster tore into the Orient defence with one of his typically tricky solo runs. However, Butcher could do nothing a few minutes later when Vukcevic cut in from the right and powered a left foot shot into the back of the net. The goal was just reward for the Montenegrin winger, who had put in an impressive shift during the second half.

The game ought to have been over at that point, but once again defensive frailties ensured there was to be a nervy final few minutes. With four minutes remaining, Jason Lowe completely misjudged the flight of a long high ball and allowed it to pass over him for an Orient player to take advantage and pass it inside for Dean Cox to score.

Fortunately, this moment of carelessness didn't prove too costly and the Rovers ended the match with the main objective of the evening achieved — a place in the final sixteen.

In defence, Givet, who was captain for the night, looked secure and led by example, while Olsson was impressive as an attacking full-back. Hanley looked comfortable as did Lowe, apart from the error that led to Orient's second goal. In midfield Rochina and Vukcevic showed touches of real class while Petrovic was steady but looks like he might need to be given time to adjust to the pace of English football. At the moment, too many of his passes seem to go astray. Grella returned after injury but is obviously short of match fitness. He sat in front of the back four and kept it simple with a string of short passes to keep the play moving. However, he tired as the game went on and clearly needs matches to build up his sharpness.

In attack Blackman proved a disappointment and made little impression before giving way to Hoilett. Roberts worked hard in the second half and once again showed that his strength and power, combined with his pace, make him a difficult opponent to mark. However, once again, he didn't make the most of the goalscoring situations that he found himself in, although it must be said that Butcher had an inspired evening in the Orient goal.


Blackburn Rovers

Mark Bunn; Jason Lowe, Grant Hanley, Gael Givet, Martin Olsson; Simon Vukcevic (Mauro Formica 85), Radosav Petrovic, Vince Grella, Ruben Rochina (Yakubu 89); Nick Blackman (David "Junior" Hoilett 46), Jason Roberts

Subs not used: Paul Robinson (gk), Bruno Ribeiro, Scott Dann, Steven Nzonzi

Manager: Steve Kean

Leyton Orient

Lee Butcher; Elliott Omozusi, Terrell Forbes, Ben Chorley, Charlie Daniels (Mike Cestor 84); Tom Clarke, Matt Spring; George Porter, Jimmy Smith, Dean Cox; David Mooney (Leon McSweeney 72)

Subs not used: Tom Lovelock (gk), Marc Laird, Moese Odubajo, Billy Lobjoit

Manager: Russell Slade


Blackburn Rovers – None

Leyton Orient – None

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