After the game at the weekend displaying the tiredness of internationals in the week, Paul Ince stated his intent of changing the team around and have a look at a few of his fringe and youth players.
The main prospect though for Rovers fans was that of new signing Carlos Villanueva, coming with a reputation built on YouTube many Rovers fans were expectant of him to deliver the goods in this Carling Cup tie at home to Grimsby Town.
Rovers had the first half chance of the game; Matt Derbyshire saw an effort rise over the bar that was never troubling the Grimsby goalkeeper.
After several minutes of sustained pressure, Grimsby were awarded a freekick 25 yards out after Carlos Villanueva was adjudged to have fouled when trying to clear the ball. Tom Newey stepped up and curled a freekick off the bar and in past Jason Brown who looked suspect in his positioning, a shock to the Rovers players and fans, 1-0 Grimsby.
Rovers nearly struck back a minute later, Derbyshire laid of Pedersen who dummied for Villanueva to strike, he didn’t get hold of it but it was enough to test Phil Barnes in the Grimsby net and force him to concede a corner.
Minutes ticked by with Rovers looking fairly flat and missing a bit of a creative spark to get the night rolling, up stepped Carlos Villanueva who on the 18th minute took a fairly routine pass with a great first touch on the edge of the box and provide an even better finish, curling his shot into the bottom left hand corner, delightful from the Chilean. Rovers 1-1 Grimsby.
8 minutes later Pedersen and Treacy combined well on the left not for the first time, Treacy delivered a decent centre with Villanueva rising at the back post but the header was too weak to really trouble the Grimsby keeper.
On the half hour mark Grimsby came forward again, a cross from the left was flicked by Nelsen into the path of an unmarked Hislop at the back post, who scuffed his effort high and wide.
Barely a minute later Rovers took the lead, again Villanueva in the thick of things with some fancy footwork and a snap shot deflected by a Grimsby player wrong footing Barnes, who could only parry to a waiting and alert Matt Derbyshire to make it 2-1.
The majority of Ewood Park was expecting a goal glut now and for the game to be a breeze and they weren’t far wrong, in the 40th minute Villanueva spread the ball out wide to Matt Derbyshire who rolled the ball into a waiting Brett Emerton on the edge of the box, who just picked his spot and curled a nice effort into the net, 3-1 Rovers.
Just before the break the ball again bobbled into Emerton’s path on the edge of the box, he unleashed a powerful strike this time but Barnes was equal to it pulling off a fine save with a strong palm over the crossbar. Rovers went in fairly comfortable at half time 3-1 up with not really having to break a sweat despite the shock lead from Grimsby.
Barely 5 minutes after the interval Rovers further extended their lead, Treacy combined well with Pedersen who fired in his best cross of the night into the near post, Matt Derbyshire tucked away nicely. 4-1 Rovers.
With the game as good as over, Ince was able to make a few changes, Alan Judge replaced Nelsen meaning Tugay took the captains armband, Judge took up a role in centre midfield with Mokoena dropping to centre half. Minutes later Paul Gallagher replaced Brett Emerton and Morten Gamst Pedersen made way for academy hopeful Marcus Marshall. Carlos Villanueva moved to the left flank with Marshall joining Derbyshire upfront.
Carlos Villanueva collected a stray ball from Treacy much to the delight of the Blackburn End, whipping a telling cross onto the head of Matt Derbyshire who finished well across Barnes, but saw his hattrick goal ruled out for offside.
Rovers hadn’t much else to do, Marshall had a few good moments, a fine run to the edge of the box saw him unselfishly slip in Gallagher who’s tame effort was parried and followed up by Derbyshire, who was again denied his hattrick by a brave stop from the Grimsby ‘keeper.
Dot on the 90th minute Rovers were awarded a free kick in a similar position to Grimsby’s goal, the official man of the match Carlos Villanueva was unlucky to see his effort to hit the top of the bar and go over, Marshall again had a run towards goal this time his shot was blocked, Derbyshire on the second attempt had another effort saved by Barnes.
Rovers eased through the final minutes leaving the final score 4-1 Rovers; with us rarely having to come out of second gear throughout the game our quality in the final third completely separated us from the league two opposition who took a shock lead.
Jason Brown – 6
Should have done a lot better with the goal really, but his distribution of the ball was good.
Danny Simpson – 6
Looked comfortable on the ball but didn’t get forward as much as I would have thought.
Zurab Khizanishvili – 6
Gave away some needless fouls and looked uncomfortable in the first period under pressure, but had nothing to deal with in the second half.
Ryan Nelsen – 7
Breezed through the encounter and rarely troubled by the Grimsby front line.
Keith Treacy – 8
Supported Pedersen magnificently and linked up well with him on numerous occasions, more often than not his delivery was superb too.
Brett Emerton – 7
A well-taken goal and unlucky not too have a second minutes later, did what he had to do on the right.
Aaron Mokoena – 7
Just sat in the midfield and did his job, looked a lot more comfortable on the ball than in recent times.
Tugay – 7
Got some attacks going and again did what was needed in the centre alongside Mokoena.
Morten Gamst Pedersen – 7
Provided a fine assist for Derbyshire’s second and linked well with Treacy all night, delivery from set pieces could improve though.
Carlos Villanueva 8
The star of the show, added flair, creativity and excitement to our forward play, showed he had a hell of a left foot and very comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Matt Derbyshire – 8
Quiet start but worked hard, and was always alert to pounce on rebounds, well taken second goal and unlucky not to have even more.
Alan Judge – 6
Didn’t see an awful lot of the ball.
Marcus Marshall – 7
Had a few runs at the opposition and had a good go.
Some nice touches but should have had a goal