Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Sunday December 21 2008
20 December 08
Big Sam's first match in charge really couldn't of been any better. Yes there were still flaws to the performance but the main ones that we have suffered with have been addressed by Big Sam immediately.
The defence looked a lot more solid and attacking wise we looked about a million times more penetrative.
In truth, at the start of the game we looked nervous and tentative on the ball. Stoke piled on the pressure and took control of the game. Rovers looked like a side that had not won for 11 games.
However, with the first foray into the Stoke penalty area, Rovers took the lead.
Nine minutes had elapsed when Morten Gamst Pedersen was slipped a pass and he rounded Sonko before being crudley hacked down. EVEN Mark Lawrenson acknowledged that it was a penalty on MOTD - a sure fire sign that it was as Lawrenson had to swallow some pride and give us some credit for once. Benni McCarthy converted from the penalty spot, sending the keeper the wrong way, great penalty but a barely deserved lead.
After the goal Rovers looked a little more settled, however Stoke still applied the pressure and showed why they are a team that are so hard to beat. However, Rovers incredibly stumbled across a second goal with only their second attack of the game.
McCarthy cushioned back Andre Ooijer's throw to Brett Emerton and his drilled cross to the far post was deflected back into the path of Roberts by Ryan Shawcross, Roberts only had to make firm contact which he did with ease. Blackburn were 2-0 up and whilst barely warranting that scoreline looked clinical for the first time this season.
The third goal highlighted the great understanding that McCarthy and Roberts have together. They may not play together a lot, but they have an sixth sense that only really good friends have.
Benni Mac back-heeled the ball to Roberts on the edge of the area and when Simonsen could only parry J-Rob's shot, McCarthy pounced from 12 yards as he does best. The delight was widespread. Chairman John Williams was seen standing up and punching the air.
After all this mayhem Rovers finally settled down and stroked the ball around.
Rovers were looking strong defensively, they restricted Stoke to half chances from distance. Stoke showed their desperation further by just pumping the ball into the box.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first. Stoke had slightly more of the possession but Rovers looked the more dangerous. Incisive passing was on display which had been missing in the Ince reign.
David Dunn, who had put in some sterling work in the middle was withdrawn with game won after 60 minutes.
Infact the introduction of Tugay helped Rovers set up Pedersen with a passing move more at home in Brazil. A 4 man passing move, involving McCarthy, Tugay, Warnock and Gamst cut Stoke to ribbons. I almost went into cardiac arrest as the long ball and hit and hope tactics of the Ince reign were replaced with some slick passing.
Roberts should have had a couple more as well as he shot straight at the keeper and had an effort defelcted wide.
McCarthy also hit the post late on as he pressed for a hat-trick.
Fuller then fired wide from a hugely offside position after Robinson had pulled off another good save, this time from substitute Seyi Olofinjana.
The performance on the whole was far from the best I have ever seen Rovers play but there were a load of positives to take from the game for Big Sam. He wasn't the only who was very pleased to see what he saw yesterday.
Much. much better and most of that was down to the 100% commitment on show at all times.
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Date:Sunday December 21 2008
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