Barrow AFC 1 Blackburn Rovers 2

The records will show Blackburn Rovers won Barrow AFC’s first pre-season friendly of the summer, but of more importance is that almost all of the squad have some vital minutes under their belts.

That includes six of the seven new arrivals, who had their first run-out at Holker Street, with only the injured Bradley Barry being made to wait for his bow.

One of them, Scott Quigley, marked the occasion with a goal, as he drew AFC level with a close-range header as part of what was a very encouraging first-half performance.

Eventually, Championship side Blackburn did make their extra quality tell, but this was the sort of test that should serve Ian Evatt’s side in good stead in the long run.

Every player involved had 45 minutes, including the three trialists in the squad, which included the familiar face of ex-Bluebirds striker Byron Harrison, who featured during the second half.

Barrow had an early opening when Dior Angus cut the ball back for Connor Brown, who seemed to be in nosebleed territory, as he mishit his effort into teammate Quigley.

Blackburn then took the lead in unfortunate circumstances after 15 minutes as Brereton’s low cross from the right as turned into his own net by the trialist who was playing alongside skipper Josh Granite in the centre of defence.

The visitors were looking dangerous down the right ring, with full-back Joe Rankin-Costello showing some excellent footwork in the area before forcing a save from Joel Dixon.

AFC almost hit back when a great ball by Lewis Hardcastle, against his old club, put Angus in behind with his shot behind pushed behind for a corner by Blackburn ‘keeper Andrew Fisher.

Angus was looking very lively and had another half-chance when he shot straight at Fisher after some very good build up play from Hardcastle and Josh Kay.

By the time Barrow equalised in the 38th minute, it was deserved as Hardcastle’s brilliant free kick was somehow turned on to the bar by Fisher, only for the ball to rebound to give Quigley the simplest of headers.

There was a raft of changes at half-time from both sides, which included the introduction of Charlie Adam, with the veteran midfielder – and good friend Evatt – on trial with Blackburn.

Rovers sub Joe Nuttall had a great chance to restore his side’s lead, but he needed an age to get his shot away, which allowed Sam Hird to come in an make the saving challenge.

Adam, who was looking a class act, then gave a glimpse of his enduring quality when his pinpoint corner picked out Nuttall, who could have done better than put his header wide at the far post.

Hird then had a chance from a corner himself, as he glanced Oliver Greaves’ set-piece past the post before Blackburn’s Dan Butterworth flashed a skimming long-range effort off target.

Johnny Saltmer, making his first appearance for Barrow since signing in February, then denied Adam Armstrong with his legs, but Rovers had stepped it up a gear and retook the lead in the 64th minute.

A mistake at the back led to another chance for Nuttall and this time his finished clinically across Saltmer and into the bottom corner.

Saltmer was certainly being kept busy and he had to be on his toes to push away a 30-yard strike from Adam to prevent Rovers from extending their advantage.

Bizarrely, AFC had to play the final 14 minutes with ten men after Brian Wilson had to come off and Brown wasn’t allowed to be brought back on, despite the non-competitive nature of this game.

Blackburn’s extra fitness – they began their pre-season a week earlier – did show in the closing stages, with Armstrong chipping against the bar and Saltmer denying John Buckley.

Barrow AFC: (First half, 4-3-3) Dixon, Brown, Granite, Trialist, Brough, Waddington, Rooney, Hardcastle, Angus, Quigley, Kay.

(Second half) Saltmer, Wilson, Hird, Elsdon, Trialist, Sloan, Taylor, Greaves, Hindle, Harrison, Penfold.

Blackburn Rovers: (First half, 4-2-3-1) Fisher, Rankin-Costello, Lenihan, Grayson, Hart, Travis, Davenport, Rothwell, Dack, Brereton, Graham.

(Second half, 4-3-3) Fisher, Bennett, Magloire, Wharton, Thompson, Adam, Smallwood, Buckley, Butterworth, Nuttall, Armstrong.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson

Attendance: 1,105