Writer: Mikey D
Date:Friday October 31 2008
29th Nov 08
On a wet and windy night in Birmingham, a vibrant Blackburn Rovers gave Villa a real game but ultimately it was a game that Paul Ince will look back on as a missed opportunity. Mistakes were made that cost the team goals and ultimately led to a defeat were the blue and whites deserved a point at the very least.
The goals scored by Luke Young and Gareth Barry in particular could of been avoided with more urgent defending and better positioning.
Blackburn had to start with Benni McCarthy up front due to an injury pciked up by Roque Santa Cruz in the warm up and Keith Andrews replaced Vince Grella with Morten Pedersen coming into the side in place of Martin Olsson.
For the first 10 minutes it looked like Villa were going to run riot with the pacy Agbonlahor and Ashely Young looking menacing down the flanks however they did miss the presence of party boy John Carew at the focal point of the Villa attack. Once Rovers had repelled the early onslaught the midfield put their foot on the ball and started to stroke it around and took control right up until injury time in the first half.
Andrews and Warnock dovetailed in midfield suprisingly well and Morten, after his public dropping last week, had fire in his belly. However, most impressive of all was Benni McCarthy, full of running and little touches that had Carlos Cuellar in particular baffled.
However, Villa always cause panic on the counter and stopped Rovers from throwing too many bodies forward as they can strike at a moments notice.
Blackburn took the lead on the half with a great move that revolved around the revitalised McCarthy. Holding the ball up with aplomb and laying it off to the energetic Warnock, Stephen rushed onto the ball and hammered past Brad Friedel in the bottom right hand corner.
Villa responded well and equalised on half time with Luke Young bundling the ball home. It was just the lift that Villa needed heading into half time. If it had stayed 0-1 to the away side it could of been a different story altogether.
After half time, Villa bought on John Carew who caused the Blackburn defence different problems. Samba, who had been dealing with Martin Laursen very well from set pieces was up against a larger and imposing man. Ryan Nelsen also knew he was in for a rough ride in the second half. Rovers however, still controlled the game and passed well and were the better side.
Villa still had the players though to cause damage and so it proved with the improved Milner adding additional width and threat.
And he proved useful as Villa took the lead on 65 minutes with good work from Milner on the left side. He crossed across the 6 yard box and Gareth Barry rushed in to finish with Robinson left with no chance. In fairness, the Rovers defence should have dealt with the problem better.
The game was killed off on 87 minutes when a stray pass from the Rovers midfield was latched onto by the impressive Ashley Young. He released the just as pacy Agbonlahor who kept ahead of Chris Samba and finished very well into the same corner that Warnock scored. Game over.
Rovers still had time to get a goal back and what a goal it was. A free kick was awarded on the edge of the area after Laursen fouled substitute Matt Derbyshire and Brett Emerton lashed home the free kick which not a keeper in the world would of stopped.
On reflection Rovers are making the chances to win games but these mistakes cannot be made against teams of Villa's class, they will punish them.
However, Paul Ince will have seen enough to know that we are headed in the right direction. Some lovely football was played and a couple of lovely goals scored.
It won't be long before Rovers are winning matches to go with these performances. Well done to Villa but consider yourself lucky.
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Date:Friday October 31 2008
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