Rovers Notch First Home Win
A tricky home tie against a Fulham outfit sitting comfortably in the top half of the table was the task for our Rovers outfit today. With David Dunn ruled out for 4 months, Grella out for 2 weeks, Paul Ince decided to give Keith Treacy a start on the left flank, with Gamst Pedersen shifted over to the right flank and Emerton playing in the centre of the park.
It was Fulham who got of to the brighter start, with a darting attack down the right flank seeing the ball being cut back to the feet of Andy Johnson, his blasted effort forced over the bar by Paul Robinson. Rovers then countered, with a Jason Roberts centering a header to Keith Andrews, striking it on the volley, however it went wide of Schwarzers net.
The game fizzed out in the opening 20 minutes, with foul after foul being commited by both outfits. Everton looked dangerous with the ball at the feet of Jimmy Bullard, who copped a couple of rash challenges from Keith Andrews and Brett Emerton.
The BLackburn defence must have copped an earbashing during the week, as Chris Samba and Ryan Nelsen finally showed us what they were capable, shutting down Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora throughout the half. The same could not be said about the Fulham defence, as a misjudged offside trap put Roque Santa Cruz through, who could only blast his shot straight at Schwarzer, easily parrying the ball away. A Morten Gamst Pedersen free kick caused mayhem in the box, with Schwarzer getting the slightest of touches, preventing Chris Samba notching his first goal of the campaign.
Rovers best chance of the half fell at the feet of Mr Versatile, Brett Emerton. After collecting the ball past half-way, Brett dazzled his way past 2 defenders, cutting back at the corner of the penalty box. Two touches then a curling effort rattled the post, leaving his compatriot Schwarzer breathing a sigh of relief. Rovers were almost made to rue their luck, however a piece of great defending from Ryan Nelsen prevented Andy Johnson's shot hitting the target. 0-0 Half time.
The Second half started with no changes by either side. More space became availble for both teams, with Keith Treacy skinning the Fulham Right back, Pantsil on a few occasions. Pantsil became the crowds favourite boo boy after a clumsy challenge on Treacy, which the referee failed to spot. Warnock returned the favour, with a ball in all tackle moments later that left Pantsil on the ground.
With chances few and far inbetween, Paul Ince made the first change, with Morten Gamst Pedersen making way for Tugay. Gamst was not happy with the substitution, heading for the tunnels. Andy Johnson, was presented with Fulhams best chance of the game, placed one on one with Paul Robinson, who stood up to the task, parrying the blasted shot. Ryan Nelsen was on hand to clear it away before the oncoming Fulham traffic had any chance of cleaning it up.
Blackburn made a further change, with Chilean sensation Carlos Villanueva making his Premier League Debut, replacing a disgrunteled Jason Roberts who followed Gamst into the sheds. However both could be seen watching from the stands within minutes. THe changes didnt stop there, with Matt Derbyshrie coming on for Keith Treacy.
And it was the three substitutes who played a major hand in the goal 10 minutes from time. Tugay took control in the centre of the park, playing a pass onto the feet of VIllanueva who took a touch and played the most delicate inch perfect chip onto the head of Roque Santa Cruz. His centered header was met by Matt Derbyshire, who clinically slotted the half volley into the back of the net. 1-0 Rovers.
WIth moments to go, a Rovers throw-in found the feet of Villanueva, who jinxed past a Fulham defender and blasted a shot, almost bending into the bottom left corner.
Rovers 1 Fulham 0
Brett Emerton recieved the sponsors man of the match. He had a fantastic first half, looking the most dangerous of our options, almost scoring with a stunning strike. Credit must go to Chris Samba, who shut out the prolific ANdy Johnson and Bobby Zamora
Paul Robinsin 8.5
Chris Samba 8.5
Ryan Nelson 8.5
Danny Simpson 8
Steven Warnock 7.5
Keith Andrews 7.5
Brett Emerton 8.5
Keith Treacy 8
Morten Gamst Pedersen 7
Jason Roberts 8
Roque Santa Cruz 7
The Dilemma Part 1
2 top quality strikers, however, 2 real target man. I feel when these two are on the pitch together, Roque tends to dissapear. JR becomes the main target man, something Roque really is not use to. JR has been performing fantastically, but what would you prefer, JR on fire, or Santa Cruz on fire. We did look much more dangerous with Villanueva and Derbyshire running of Roque rather then the two big man up front
The Dilemma Part 2
2 quality left wingers. Keith Treacy has the feel of fresh air and is really similar to Damien Duff. Likes to hit the byline, gets stuck into the tackles whilst Morten Gamst is the more technical of the two, also with the ability to take on the man, cut in or whip in a fantastic cross.
At the moment, i would rather have Gamst on the left flank, he was wasted on the right flank today.
Sasmans Award for Most Improved
Well done lads. That was our first clean sheet of the season, well defended, and a fine few saves from Robinson.