Blackburn Rovers boss Owen Coyle knew his side were on a hiding to nothing as favourites in last night’s EFL Cup first round tie at Mansfield after Saturday’s opening day Championship disaster.
So he was a happy and relieved man after his side came through 3-1 at the One Call Stadium last night.
Blackburn were stung by Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat by Norwich and knew they were facing a tricky cup tie away to a side that had made a fine start to the campaign.
However, two goals in as many second half minutes sealed their passage and Coyle smiled: “Overall I was delighted.
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“Coming into a cup tie as a favourite, it’s always a difficult game and Mansfield were coming into this off a very good result at the weekend and a good performance, which we watched.
“We gave them an early chance with that backpass but after that I thought we controlled the game and looked dangerous every time we went forward.
“We allowed them back into it in the second half and I have to say it was a great header from the lad. For us it was avoidable and there was a deflection on the cross that led to it.
“But the reaction was there. We scored three goals and if truth be told we could have had five or six.”
Rovers’ star man was Anthony Stokes who built on his debut goal against Norwich with a brace last night and almost took the match ball home when the ex-Celtic striker’s late deflected effort bounced down off the bar England 1966-style.
“Anthony Stokes could have had his hat-trick,” said Coyle. “I still don’t know if it was over the line or not – it certainly looked like it when it cannoned down off the underside of the bar late on.
“When we took control and passed it I think we showed we are a good side.
“It was good to get a positive reaction from the weekend when we didn’t get anywhere near the level. We’ve had a positive weekend in what was a difficult game.
“To come here and show the attitude and the work rate we did – as we knew we’d have to work hard tonight – some of the quality of play was terrific to see.”
He added: “I’ve said before the longer we work together and play together – and obviously try to add one or two bodies to what we’ve got – then moving forward we know we’ll be a decent team.
“We have players that can score goals and we have a creative nucleus to the team.
“What we have to make sure of is that we are tighter at the back and don’t give other teams chances as we know there are some good teams in the Championship, as we saw on Saturday, who are clinical and ruthless. They punished us for possibly every mistake we made.
“I think there was nearly 600 travelling fans there so it was great to reward them for the two and half hours in getting here.”