Harrogate Town 0 Blackburn Rovers 8: Gallows humour Harrogate's only defence mechanism as slick visitors are far too good

PENALTY CONCESSION Harrogate Town captain for the night Warren Burrell (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)
PENALTY CONCESSION Harrogate Town captain for the night Warren Burrell (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

But under a super blue moon at Wetherby Road, they never gave themselves a chance.

"This is embarrassing!" sang the Harrogate diehards when substitute James Edmonson breezed through one-on-one to make it 8-0.

"We want 10!" they chanted sarcastically, urging the opposition players to shoot on sight.

Gallows humour was all they had to cling to with their Championship opponents seemingly scoring with every attack by that stage until their radars went wonky late on.

The incessant beating of their drum was about as close as Harrogate came to offering any resistance.

The Blackburn team Jon Dahl Tomasson sent out was far from full-strength but, disappointingly, Simon Weaver responded in kind, making eight changes from Saturday's win over Morecambe.

If it was meant to leave them in better shape for Saturday's League Two visit of Barrow, it is hard to see how an 8-0 defeat achieved that.

Surely at least trying to set up a lucrative tie in the third round, when the really big boys join in, would have been a better use of everyone's night?

The match was not 15 minutes old when it was all over, Sam Gallagher slipping the ball past Mark Oxley to make it 2-0.

It was no less than Rovers deserved. Even their second string moved the ball with a slickness and quickness a level or two above what the Sulphurites are used to.

Gallagher had gone clean through on goal as early as the second minute, only for Oxley to race of his line to deny him.

But Blackburn were in front in the 11th minute, Gallagher the provider this time to play in Jake Garrett.

Soon the centre-forward was running onto a Jack Buckley pass Will Smith ought to have cut out to double the lead.

Even at 2-0, there felt no way back. Little did the hapless hosts know how much worse it was going to get.

Oxley had to save from Dillon Markanday in the 18th minute, and George Thomson charged down Sondre Tronstad's effort from the corner.

Fans in what is currently a three-sided ground started heading to the refreshment kiosks when Buckley made it 3-0 before half-time, slotting the pull-back when Gallagher sent Andy Moran to the byline.

Abraham Odoh was alert to a couple of sloppy Tronstad passes but when he released Jack Muldoon one on one, the experienced striker missed the target.

With plenty of yellow-shirted players in front of him as Markanday spun on the ball in first-half stoppage-time, his strike found the net after clipping one of them.

There were a smattering of boos at the half-time whistle but really it was a night for sympathy.

Tomasson showed some, taking two players off at the break whilst Weaver interrupted the rests he had granted his best centre-backs and leading centre-forward with the horse having well and truly bolted.

Luke Armstrong had precious little to do, unlike Anthony O'Connor.

When O’Connor pulled Gallagher's shirt as Gallagher ran clean through, referee Will Finnie kept his whistle out of his mouth and Blackburn's players did not really bother arguing. There was no point –it was 5-0 by then, Buckley having converted a 52nd-minute penalty when captain-for-the-night Warren Burrell clattered Tronstad.

For Zak Gilsenan, who hit the bar almost as soon as he came on, to bullet a free-kick which left Oxley rooted in from the edge of the area to make it 6-0 was just plain cruel.

Not that they stopped there.

Someone will have to explain to 18-year-old debutant Thomas Bloxham that not all senior goals are this easy – even if Edmondson's was.

When Oxley saved with his feet to stop Gilsenan making it nine, a cheer went up around the ground. At last, a modicum of resistance.

The final whistle was greeted with a few boos, than a smattering of sympathetic applause.

It was an historic night best forgotten for the Sulphurites.

Harrogate Town: Oxley; Ramsay, Burrell, Smith, Gibson; Thomson, Horbury (Armstrong 46), Sutton, Odoh (Folarin 46); M Daly (O'Connor 46), Muldoon (J Daly 52). Unused substitutes: Thomas, McDonald, Foulds, O'Boyle.
Blackburn Rovers: Wahlstedt; Gamble (Atcheson 80), Hyam (Carter 46), Wharton, Pickering (Gilsenan 46); Trondstad, Garrett; Markanday, Buckley, Moran (Edmondson 62); Gallagher (Bloxham 62). Unused substitutes: Brittain, Szmodics, Hilton, Doherty
Referee: W Finnie (Bedfordshire).