Well the UEFA Cup is now ours for the taking as an unspectacular, uninspiring but professional display announced our entry with more of a whisper.
Manager Mark Hughes would have been looking for a solid and professional display and he got that as Rovers once again competed in second, occasionally revving the engines to ensure it was still working okay.
The changes were rung before the kick off as Hughes announced a full debut for Maceo Rigters and a return for Jason Roberts as the ‘big guns` were rested. Tugay also started in the centre alongside Aaron Mokoena.
The fans were hoping for a rousing opening to distract the bitter bite of the cold on a drab but clear Lancashire evening, and Rovers didn`t disappoint. A surge of early efforts should have been rewarded with a goal and would have but for the continued fight between Roberts and his own inability.
Following a sumptuous slide ball from Tugay releasing the advancing Brett Emerton in the penalty area his cross was somehow diverted wide from three yards of an open goal by Roberts. Had he simply put a foot out he would have scored, it was as if he didn`t want to.
Rovers continued to pepper the MyPa goal with Mokoena and Roberts again rasping vicious shots at goal from the edge of the area.
Roberts was once again the culprit of a wasted opportunity, although to be fair he did little wrong. He smartly controlled a loose ball in the area with his back to goal and on the six yard line. Demonstrating one of his strong points, he brushed aside the attentions of his marker to swivel and hit a rocket of a snap shot at goal only to be thwarted by a remarkable save.
Rigters was looking a tad lethargic and off the pace and this showed when he contrived to miss to great headed opportunities following excellent crosses from David Bentley and Morten Gamst Pedersen.
Following these early excursions, the gas was taken off and Rovers sat back, only stirred into action following a five minute period of concerted MyPa pressure.
As half time loomed, a similar feeling of deja vu was engulfing the stadium as a Rovers side, far superior in ability rested on their laurels.
A stirring response was the antidote and it arrived on 48 minutes. David Bentley, who was slowly growing in stature as the game wore on and perhaps displayed a little too much showboating, broke the dead-lock with a crisp volley on his left foot, following a clever and well executed cross from Gamst.
The fans were roused, the blood was pumping again and fast free-flowing returned; well for five minutes anyway.
After the fanfare of celebrations died down Rovers once again showed their ‘professionalism` by keeping the ball for long periods, loathe to probe for a second.
A collection of free-kicks for Gamst and Bentley, in what must have felt like a training session for them served as the high points of an otherwise forgettable second period.
Oh there was the late drama of a Jason Roberts goal, deserved for his hard work, persistence and link-up play, and a ‘get out of jail free` card following his earlier misses.
However, Rovers are through, I just hope we raise the standard and level of our game considerably for when we clash with better sides.
There were a number of other plus points on the night too. Martin Olsson made his debut at left-back, replacing Stephen Warnock with a little over 15 minutes to play and he looked tidy, committed and accomplished in his few glimpses. I also thought Mokoena put in a sound display alongside Tugay, who once again marvelled with his repertoire of passes from his box of magic. Rovers have now stretched their home record in Europe to five games without losing and without conceding.
Job done, bring on the big boys!
One decent save, and that’s it.
Tidy as ever.
Got forward very well with some great ditribution, defended equally as good.
A better display from him.
Won every header and commanded.
Revelled in the limelight, maybe too much on the odd occasion.
Hit and miss with his crosses but link-up play was good and made a great piece of last ditch defending; you don’t see many world class wingers doing that!
Purr-fect passing all night, although age really is catching up with him.
Looks a lot more assured these days and put in quite an attacking display.
Hustled, bustled and did deserve his goal; should have had more though!
Lethargic debut, but there will be more to come.
He’s goalscorer, but perhaps shouldn’t forget to pass occasionally.
Looked tidy in his brief appearance.