Blackburn progressed into the fourth round of the Carling Cup despite riding their luck away at Nottingham Forest. Forest on the night were marginally the better side but that I suppose was to be expected as Rovers were fielding ten new players from the weekends loss at Everton. Class eventually told however as a Benni McCarthy free kick and a great penalty save from Jason Brown saw the Rovers edge through.
Only Michel Salgado survived from the weekend as Rovers went with a line up of second string players and players in need of match fitness by playing a 4-4-2 formation with pace on the wings.
Forest ironically actually played the part of Blackburn Rovers as they created the bulk of the chances in the first half but couldn’t take them (sound familiar?) and Rovers actually took their chance whilst creating mainly half chances throughout the first period.
Blackstock bundled an instant shot straight into the arms of keeper Brown early on following a powerful header across goal from ex-Rover Joe Garner.
Blackburn skipper Ryan Nelsen then produced a certain goal saving tackle to deny Robert Earnshaw after the well travelled front man had controlled a fine cross from Nathan Tyson on the edge of the six-yard box. Defender Wes Morgan also lashed badly wide when well situated as Forest turned the screw.
But after a frantic opening twenty minutes Rovers settled and started to come into the game with the influence of Emerton and Hoilett increasing. Nikola Kalinic was also holding the ball up better as the game wore on.
The goal was a classic free kick that most of the papers will stupidly describe as lucky but one that the golkeepers always hate. Benni McCarthy knew exactly what he was doing when he floated over a great free kick that evaded everyone and found the bottom corner with keeper helpless.
The second half began in more even fashion but it was still the home side shaded things with Nelsen producing another timely interception to deny Earnshaw a chance.
Blackburn at the other end came close to adding a second as Nikola Kalinic showed a flash of quality with a smart turn and shot that flashed narrowly wide.
But then the defining moment occured as Forest were awarded a penalty for a handball by Steven Reid. However, Jason Brown plunged low to his left to palm away Blackstock’s spot-kick to give the clearest indicator of all that Forest were not going to prevail.
One thing I would say is don’t buy into this rubbish in the media that Forest were much the better side. They shaded things on the night and missed a couple of good chances but Rovers were fielding a team of unfit and second string players.
They scored with a classy goal and sealed victory with a top stop by Jason Brown.
Job done, yes they rode their luck but you always do.
Jason Brown – 7
A couple of nervy moments but a great save to keep Rovers in it from the spot.
He does look a little on the short side but he is a top draw shot stopper. Of that there is no doubt.
Michel Salgado – 5
Classy when on the ball again but badly lacking in match fitness by the looks things.
He got beaten several times on the Forest left and allowed too many crosses into the box.
Phil Jones – 8
WOW! Where the heck did this guy come from?! Strong, physical presence and spent half the timecovering for Salgado.
He actually benefitted from having Nelsen next to him because the only thing he seems to lack is experience.
Ryan Nelsen – 7
Steadying influence all around him and several crucial blocks and tackles.
People have questioned Nelsen in recent weeks with the emergence of Givet but he did nothing wrong last night.
Martin Olsson – 6
Steady as she goes at left back and even found chance to get forward as Rovers settled.
He has some way to go to get near Chimbonda and Givet for a left back spot but he put in a decent shift last night.
Brett Emerton – 7
Struggled to get into the game at first but as the game wore on his influence grew. He linked well with Kalinic up front and looked sharp as well.
It wasn’t a game for his true talents to show through but thats 90 mins under his belt and we are better off for it.
Steven N’Zonzi – 6
Another one to be filed in the Martin Olsson file of ‘Decent effort but nothing too spectacular.’
Gave Rovers a much needed presence in the centre and did the Vince Grella holding job competently enough.
Steven Reid – 6
Showed good pace and pressed forward but lacks the creativity of David Dunn.
He is getting back up to full speed and was perhaps a tad unlucky with conceding the penalty. Subbed as he was on a yellow card.
Junior Hoilett – 7
Exciting talent when he had the ball last night but was starved of service for long periods. Caused the Forest full backs the most headaches.
From a critical point of view maybe could with standing up for himself a bit more in the tackle. None the less – a good show from the youngster.
Benni McCarthy – 7
Its a shame he is quite lazy as his technique on the ball is better than all the Forest players put together (no offence).
Clever free kick for winner and almost bagged a second. Put himself in the frame for Villa.
Nikola Kalinic – 7
WE ARE GETTING THERE. Looked lost again at first but as the game went by he started to gain confidence.
Looked stronger and showed some flair and class when on the ball.
He doesn’t look like a £6.5 million player yet but I am starting to see the reason Sam bouht him.
Lars Jacobsen – 6
Usual story for Lars. Looked solid as a rock and didn’t put a foot wrong for the half an hour he was on.
Keith Andrews – 5
Nothing too bad but didn’t really get into the game much for the fifteen minutes he was on the pitch for.
Did the usual amount of running though.
Time wasting substitution right at the end.