Bright Start to Rovers Season
Blackburn Rovers have enjoyed a bright start to their Promotion Campaign, sitting undefeated after the opening 3 fixtures with 2 wins and a tough draw at Ipswich.
The opening fixture away at Ipswich was always going to be a nervy encounter. With Rovers early favourites to push for promotion honours, every team would lift that extra 10% to get a result against the Blues. A fresh influx of Portuguese players gave manager Steve Kean a diverse range of options up front, however it was Turkish Journeyman Colin Kazim-Richards given the lead man role, Nuno Gomes slotting in behind. With early possession favouring Ipswich, the opener came against the run of play, and through familiar fashion. Morten Gamst Pedersen swung in a corner, Scott Dann flicked on for CKR who buried it home, Rovers taking the lead after 20 minutes.
Fellow debutants Murphy and Etuhu worked their trade in midfield as Rovers managed to spurn a handful of chances to put the game beyond reach. They did manage to put the ball in the net, but not exactly where they would have planned. Sloppy defending from Rovers saw Scotland dash across the flank, his powerful cross deflected into the Blackburn goal by Jason Lowe with only 10 minutes left on the clock. A 1-1 Draw to kick off the campaign.
Next up would be a home fixture against Hull City. Much would be said about the turn out as just under 14000 supporters turned out at Ewood Park, its lowest crowd in 20 years. Steve Kean decided to tinker with his front line, giving Fabio Nunes the opportunity to play just behind CKR. In what was a dour fixture, both teams struggled to create any clear chances in the opening 45 minutes. Hull dominated the early proceedings, moving the ball well as Rovers struggled to create any momentum.
The introduction of Nuno Gomes sparked Rovers. The Portuguese veteran created time whilst on the ball, holding it up before releasing the support runners. And indeed, it was Gomes who had a hand in creating the only goal of the match. A raking ball by Etuhu found Gomes in the 18 yard box, cheating down before chipping past Ben Amos in goal. A goal-line scramble saw an acrobatic miscue by Markus Olsson before Colin Kazim-Richards banged home the winner in successive outings.
The result was soured with only minutes left on the clock as CKR picked up a knee injury which will keep him out for 2-6 weeks.
With 4 points out of 6, Blackburn looked to continue their bright start to the season with fellow Promotion candidates Leicester sitting visiting Ewood Park. With CKR out injured, Nuno Gomes was handed the target man role, youngster Edinho filling in just behind Gomes, another debutant for Rovers. Bruno Ribiero was handed a starting role in defence, much to the amusement of the Rovers faithful who have now taken to the Brazilian, earning Cult Hero status.
Blackburn once again started slowly, David Nugent finding plenty of time in the Rovers box, with Paul Robinson on hand to keep the scorers on their seats. Etuhu and Murphy failed to dominate the midfield, with the latter sending passes wide on several occasion. Edinho offered little going forward whilst the Rovers defence were forced on the back foot. However, against the run of play, Blackburn took the lead. Nuno Gomes held the ball up well before releasing Jason Lowe down the right flank. Lowe cut back inside his man, cutting the ball across the 18 yard line, Nuno Gomes side footing into the far bottom corner, 1-0 Blackburn.
To say Rovers were lucky to be ahead would be a fair statement as Leicester were dominating proceedings. Vardy and Nugent though could not convert their chances, trailing at the break 1-0.
Leicester though did manage to find the net twice in the second half. The first came through a defensive howler by Rovers. A long hopeful ball was misread by Dann, his tame effort left Robinson stranded, Vardy burying home to equalise. 1-1.
Paul Robinson was left to pick the ball up out of his net for a second time later on, but the assistants flag kept Rovers in the game. A lovely floated ball into the box was superbly headed in by Vardy, however the flag went up, much to the frustration of Leicester manager Nigel Pearson.
Only minutes later, the fixture took another twist. The introduction of Ruben Rochina saw the young Spaniard inject some pace into the final third. His movement off the ball caused Leicester to sit deep, and they paid for it. A deflected shot from distance by Rochina floated into the 18 yard box, Morten Gamst Pedersen with the deftest of touches to cut back past his man, before a swerving right foot strike clipped the far post and bounced into the net, 2-1 Rovers.
Blackburn had the opportunity to score a few more but spurned their chances, holding onto win 2-1.
So 7 points out of an early 9, and whilst Blackburn have not dominated proceedings, they have managed to get the result.