Steve Bruce counts blessings after Newcastle reach Carabao Cup third round
Ryan Fraser’s first-half goal saw the Magpies through.
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce admitted the Premier League side were fortunate to squeeze past Sky Bet Championship Blackburn and into the Carabao Cup third round.
The Magpies head coach made 10 changes to the side which had won so impressively at West Ham in the league on Saturday and saw his under-studies labour to a hard-fought 1-0 win at St James’ Park courtesy of a debut goal from Ryan Fraser.
Their reward is a trip to League Two Morecambe in the next round, but Bruce headed for home counting his blessings and feeling for opposite number Tony Mowbray.
He said: “It’s fair to say – we’re not going to try to mask over it – I think we are fortunate to be in there.
“However, considering the problems with the team I put out with the lack of game-time and the two young ‘uns playing in the middle of the pitch, then it was always going to be a tricky tie.
“Blackburn are a very, very decent team. Tony always plays a certain way and I think he’ll count himself a bit unlucky tonight.”
If there were pluses for Newcastle, they came in the shape of Fraser, who like fellow summer signings Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick before him, scored in his first appearance for the club, while keeper Mark Gillespie, who was released by the Magpies as a teenager, marked his bow with a clean sheet.
There was also a run out for defender Ciaran Clark for the first time since February after an ankle injury, and that was all good news for Bruce.
The decisive moment came 10 minutes before the break when Miguel Almiron split the Rovers defence with a fine revere pass and Fraser ran through to beat keeper Thomas Kaminski.
Bruce said: “Considering he hasn’t played since March, I thought his effort and his endeavour and his enthusiasm were there for everybody to see.
“It was a great finish, great run great ball from Miggy and as I said, it was that little bit of quality, the only real bit of quality, that we showed all night.
“But hey, that’s the cup, that’s the way it is, but certainly we’ll be a lot better for the game.”
Mowbray, who was boosted before kick-off by the signing of experienced defender Dani Ayala, certainly was disappointed with the outcome on a night when he was nevertheless able to take plenty of positives.
He said: “As I’ve always said, you have to find a way to win football matches. That’s the job, that’s where the team will grow in confidence – we have to win.
“It’s a bit sour, really, when you talk about how well we did and how many chances we had or how much possession we had and yet we were beaten.
“With total respect, Brucey has been in this game longer than I have, probably, and they didn’t look like they were interested in possession tonight.
“They were being solid and then they scored from the one break-away that they had, so it was a frustrating night for us.”