ALL the hard work Gary Bowyer has done since being permanently appointed as Rovers manager had been leading up to that superb display on Saturday.

For the first time in three years, the nation’s eyes were on events at Ewood Park, but for once instead of being ridiculed we were being lauded.

Every person involved in the match against potential champions of England and Europe, Manchester City deserved the standing ovation at full time.

And to a man, every single Blackburn Rovers player had every reason to be proud.

Football is all about pride, particularly for the fans.

But Rovers fans have had little to feel proud about over the last couple of seasons, but it is thanks to Bowyer and the team that everyone with blue and white in their veins was exuding pride this weekend.

As well as pride, the performance also gave us hope that things could finally be clicking into place.

No matter what happens off the field come the end of this season, perhaps on the field we have finally turned the corner.

The players showed guile, determination and sublime organisation, especially in defence, to thwart Manchester City’s world-class strike force.

But they also showed skill and flair, putting the millionaires under the cosh on more than one occasion.

They could have been rightly aggrieved that they did not go on and win the game, especially when Dedryck Boyata was sent off after being booked for two daft challenges.

So concerned was Bowyer’s opposite number, Manuel Pellegrini, that the Chilean threw on one of his best players Yaya Toure and, in the closing stages as Rovers went for the kill with two attacking substitutions, swapped David Silva for defender Pablo Zabaletta, showing just how concerned he was becoming.

There were notable performances from Tom Cairney, an absolute bargain, who was superb in midfield, and Scott Dann, who was typically solid while being in the right place at the right time for the equaliser.

Unfortunately it could well be one of his last games for Rovers as the temptation to sell him to a Premier League suitor and reduce the wage bill may be too great.

The return of Paul Robinson was great to see as well.

It is shocking to think the 34-year-old almost died, but what a way to return.

Defensively, Tommy Spurr and Adam Henley ruled the flanks well, while Grant Hanley was as solid as ever against a strike force that cost City more than £40million.

Chris Taylor was a constant thorn in the side of the City defence, while the ongoing resurgence of Ben Marshall was evident.

And Rudy Gestede seems a real bargain. Despite being on his own he was a constant threat and fired in a superb header that was spilled by Pantillimon and led to the goal.

Speaking of the City keeper, surely his high-footed challenge on Josh King should have been a Rovers penalty?

Fingers crossed Rovers can keep up this level of performance in the bread and butter of the league, starting with Doncaster on Saturday.