Blackburn Rovers were in for a shock on their League One debut as they were blown away by a strong Southend United side at Roots Hall.
1,600 travelling fans made the journey south, but it took only 28 minutes for Southend to open the scoring as Ryan Leonard found space at the far post to rifle the ball home.
Matters went from bad to worse for Tony Mowbray when Michael Kightly, previously of Burnley and making his second debut for Southend, scored again ten minutes later.
Rovers dominated early in the second half, Charlie Mulgrew pulling one back from a free-kick, but they failed to mount any real challenge and the Shrimpers comfortably saw the result out.
Here is what The Boot Room learnt from the game…
Phil Brown’s side are contenders
Blackburn’s starting eleven will be one of the strongest in League One this year, on paper at least, but Southend played them off the park. With only two shots on target, they prevented them from posing a real attacking threat and hit them on the counter with a devastating impact.
Michael Kightly and Stephen Hendrie both enjoyed fine returns for second spells at Roots Hall, but Brown was without many key players too. After a quality performance like this, and with the additions of the injured Anthony Wordsworth, Michael Turner and Ben Coker, with Rob Kiernan also building fitness having signed this week and Nile Ranger expected out of prison soon, it could be a strong season for the Shrimpers.
Life won’t be easy in League One for Blackburn
Tony Mowbray’s side really struggled at Roots Hall, with the manager’s stubbornness partly to blame. His refusal to change the system didn’t help matters as Southend continued to exploit their weaknesses, spreading the ball wide whenever possible.
Charlie Mulgrew did his best to save the side, with his excellent free-kick clawing them back into the game, but it was of little consolation in the end. The Scot showed the kind of commitment and desire that has been lacking at Rovers for too long. New signings like the woeful Bradley Dack should take note.
Ryan Leonard is worth keeping hold of
Amid intense speculation linking him with Millwall and Sheffield United, as the Independent reports, Ryan Leonard showed exactly why the Blues want to keep him around. Leonard made it clear that he was committed and would give his all to the club until any potential move, opening the scoring with a darting far post run to volley home.
Alongside Michael Timlin, the duo bossed the midfield and left Rovers chasing them for scraps. It’s clear to see why Championship sides are interested in the number 18, but even clearer just how important he is to Phil Brown’s set-up.