BLACKBURN Rovers boss Gary Bowyer still remembers the frustration of defeat at Carlisle in the first round of last season’s League Cup, and he has urged his players to make sure there is no repeat against Scunthorpe tonight.
Rovers travelled to Cumbria 12 months ago buoyed by an encouraging 1-1 draw at Derby County in their opening match of the Championship season, while Carlisle had lost 5-1 at home to Leyton Orient in League One.
But a much-changed line-up had a surprisingly tough night at Brunton Park – drawing 3-3 after extra time in a dramatic match that ended with Carlisle progressing on penalties, after Chris Taylor and Josh Morris missed from the spot.
“It was very disappointing, and the manner of it, losing out on penalties,” Bowyer reflects now.
“It was my second game as a full-time manager, I can still recall that night. The drive home from Carlisle wasn’t pleasant.
“The first thing that’s massively important tonight is that we’ve got to try to get through to the next round.
“As a manager I’ve not been involved in the second round so it’s something we want to do.
“But last season the squad that played at Carlisle compared to now is a million miles of difference.
“It’s something that’s taken over a year to make progress on but this presents itself with an opportunity to try to win a game of football.”
Three of the defence that night did not start another game. Gael Givet soon left for Arles-Avignon and Morris made only substitute appearances before joining Fleetwood Town in another loan spell this summer.
Yann Songo’o has returned to Rovers after a loan in Scotland with Ross County, and could be in the squad to face League One opposition once more in the shape of Scunthorpe.
Bowyer is without the injured Matt Kilgallon and Tommy Spurr tonight, leaving him short of defensive options. Jack O’Connell is also under consideration to feature.
But the manager admits he faces a difficult balancing act to protect key players for Saturday’s league trip to Blackpool with trying to progress in the cup.
“We have to be careful with making drastic changes but at the same time we have to keep a mindful eye on Blackpool a little bit, especially in the defensive area,” he said.
Asked whether Jake Kean or Simon Eastwood could feature in goal, Bowyer added: “We’ve got three good goalkeepers, like every position we’ve discussed it and we’ll have a look and pick it up again today in terms of what we decide to go with.”
Rovers faced Manchester City in last season’s FA Cup and Bowyer is keen to progress and earn a similar glamour tie in this season’s League Cup.
“I certainly enjoyed the two games against Manchester City last year because it enables you to see who has the character, the capability and the technical ability to go and perform at that level,” he said.
“If we have a good run this year, as well as providing us with the experience it could produce some finances for us, which would help.”
Scunthorpe, who include former Rovers youngster Eddie Nolan in their squad, arrive at Ewood Park after losing 3-1 at Swindon Town in their first game in League One following promotion. Defender Marcus Williams was sent off.
Iron chief Russ Wilcox, a former Burnley assistant manager, shot to fame last season after breaking the world record for the longest unbeaten run by a manager at the start of his reign. Scunthorpe did not lose in his first 28 matches in charge.
“We’re aware with the challenge that lies ahead against Scunthorpe and we’ll be ready for it,” Bowyer said.
“Full credit to Russ Wilcox, he went in there and went on a 28-game unbeaten run and they got promoted.
“We watched their game from the weekend and they had a lad sent off. But they’ll be coming looking to cause an upset.”