August 12, 2015 by Shane Ireland
Bristol Rovers 1 – 2 Birmingham City
Written by: Luke Turner
Birmingham City progressed to the second round of the Capital One Cup after overcoming a tricky tie against League Two side Bristol Rovers.
A goal a piece from debutant Jacques Maghoma and Andy Shinnie either side of Ellis Harrison’s equaliser ensured Blues go into the hat for the next round.
Gary Rowett made no less that eight changes to the side that started Saturday’s Championship opener with Michael Morrison, Jonathan Grounds and Stephen Gleeson the only survivors from the team.
Rowett handed debuts to Adam Legzdins in goal and Jacques Maghoma on the left side of midfield as well as giving the likes of Lee Novak, Wes Thomas and Neal Eardley a rare chance to impress from the start.
Blues had the main share of possession in the first half but struggled to find that final pass after some neat play in parts.
A tame volley from Gleeson did little to trouble the Rovers defence as he saw his effort comfortably cleared. Neal Eardley then picked out Shinnie with a right-wing cross but the Scot’s weak header fell straight into the arms of Steve Mildenhall.
Rovers’ best chance of the half came a few minutes before the break when Jake Gosling’s free kick deceived Adam Legzdins in the Blues goal only to whistle past his near post.
Wes Thomas then had a glorious chance to open the scoring and his account for the season as he capitalised on a defensive error, only to lift the ball over both Mildenhall and the bar.
Rovers started the second half a lot stronger but couldn’t break down the visitors’ rearguard with Morrison and skipper Paul Robinson both making timely blocks to ensure the game was still goalless.
After withstanding that pressure, it was Blues who eventually took the lead. After some good work chasing down from Thomas, the ball broke to Maghoma who calmly slotted into an empty net.
It took less than ten minutes for Rovers to go up the other end and equalise. After Matty Taylor found space down the left, his cross was cleared straight into the path of Harrison who fired past Legzdins from just outside the penalty area.
Blues responded perfectly just three minutes later as Shinnie found space on the left before cutting in and striking a low shot past Mildenhall.
Rovers struggled to created any more clear cut chances in the remaining minutes and Blues held on well for a deserved victory.
Blues boss Gary Rowett: “We had some very, very good performances, players worked their socks off and we have got a really good squad this year.
“What we need to do is we need to utilise that perhaps a little bit better than we were able to do last year.
“If you look at the Blyth game compared to this game it was certainly a much stronger performance.
“When you have a game like this so soon after the first game of the season I felt we needed to be a little bit brave and make some changes.”
Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke: “I asked for a reaction and I feel I got that tonight, to be fair to the boys our performance was good and on another day we might have caused an upset against a good Championship side.
“For me our game plan seemed to be working well in the first half following our change in formation and then in the second half we found more gaps appearing and we had our fair share of chances.
“Whilst I’m pleased with individual performances with a lot of my players but I’m still disappointed we are out of the Capital One Cup.”
Starting line-up: Legzdins, Eardley, Morrison (Spector 71), Robinson, Grounds, Shinnie, Maghoma (Gray 81), Gleeson, Davis, Thomas (Arthur 90 +1:53), Novak
Subs not used: Brown, Donaldson, Cotterill, Kuszczak