Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray saw enough positives from his side after coming from behind to defeat Doncaster 3-2 and avoid a Carabao Cup shock.
The hosts looked on course for a routine win after Lewis Holtby’s free-kick gave them a deserved first-half lead – but Fejiri Okenabirhie’s 54th-minute penalty and a 25-yard Madger Gomes strike threatened a real upset.
But like last season, Blackburn recovered to beat lower league opposition 3-2. This time, Joe Rankin-Costello’s first senior goal and Adam Armstrong’s late penalty spared their blushes and took them into the second round.
Mowbray put the second-half slump down to fitness, but saw “enough good stuff” to be positive about.
He said: “I enjoyed the first half, a total domination. They had a shot early on but for vast spells of that first half we had total control. It’s how we want to play really, how we want to be.
“First 20 minutes of the second half is everything we don’t want to be. End to end, you attack, we attack, we lose a goal, lose a penalty, lose our direction really. Not sure the reason why. Is it fitness?
!This is still pre-season for us. Can you keep the intensity up like you showed first half when they couldn’t put two passes together? Yet the second half, they are stringing passes together, nobody’s taking it off them. Maybe it’s fitness, maybe that’s an excuse for them.
“We found a way to win and I suppose that’s what you want in cup competitions. There was enough good stuff, particularly first half, for me to see the positives.”
The cup encounter at Ewood Park was Doncaster’s first taste of competitive football since the first week of March and Darren Moore was pleased with the performance but believed his team “ran out of legs”.
He said: “We started the game quite well. I just thought at the end, we ran out of legs in terms of where we are.
“We always knew the last 20 minutes were going to be a really tough battle but I just thought if we could have held the lead for another five minutes or so, we defensively get into our shape and make it harder.
“But they get the goal and the wind in their sails and then obviously get the penalty – but I’ve got no complaints because we are not really where we should be at the moment.
“We went through a strong spell and scored the two goals. There were one or two half-chances in that spell that we could have been more clinical on, but I can’t complain because it really is just where we are. But we will have taken a lot from today.”