Rovers reassured by Shearer

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 2 Swindon Town 0 (Blackburn win 5-2 on agg)

Blackburn Rovers managed to stay out of trouble in one competition, with a goal in each half from Alan Shearer assuring them of a relatively comfortable, if uninspired, passage into the third round of the Coca-Cola Cup.

With their Premiership and European campaigns in disarray, a repeat of the shock that Swindon gave them in the first half at the County Ground would have spelt strife on a third front.

The familiar predatory instincts of Shearer, now well into his second century of goals for the club, removed that danger. But, with Blackburn never producing better than a stuttering rhythm in midfield, it was not difficult to see why Ray Harford has been scouring the small ads for possible reinforcements.

Most of Blackburn's attacking threat, in fact, came from a seemingly endless series of corners from Stuart Ripley, and it was only logical that the first goal should arrive in that manner.With Mike Newell's jump wrongfooting the defence, Shearer was able to run in past the penalty spot and head home the goal that eased any home worries.

Swindon responded with their best spell of the match, on either half side of half-time, with Bobby Mimms, standing in for the injured Tim Flowers, leaping instinctively to save from Wayne O'Sullivan and Ian Pearce blocking an equally fierce volley from Bodin. Steve McMahon also carved Swindon a good chance, only to waste it with a weak shot.

As so often, though, Shearer compensated for a multitude of shortcomings. Colin Hendry's long ball presented no particular threat until Shearer accelerated on to it, but then there was never the slightest doubt where it was going to finish up. If only everything in Blackburn's season was so reliable.

Blackburn Rovers (5-3-2): Mimms; Berg, Hendry, Sutton, Pearce, Kenna; Ripley, Batty (Warhurst, h-t), Sherwood; Shearer, Newell. Substitutes not used: Talia, Holmes.

Swindon Town (4-4-2): Digby; Culverhouse, Seagraves, Taylor, Bodin; Robinson, O'Sullivan, McMahon, Horlock; Finney, Allison. Substitutes not used: Gooden, Hooper, Murray.

Referee: R Hart (Darlington).