Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Tuesday January 6 2009
Croft Park, Blyth
It was simply a case of job done for Rovers last night. The performance was efficent and dominant if lacking in the final third. Blyth emerged with a ton of credit and rightly as they acquittedthemsleves full bloodedly through out but the Premierhsip edge told in the end.
Sam Allardyce had changed the whole team prior to kick off with what was effectively a second strng takig to the pitch. There were several recognisable players such as Matt Derbyshire and Vince Grella on display however. The locals were clearly up for it as they turned out for a sell out game.
Blyth has a brief opening burst in the first two mins, the pedigree of the Premier League fringe players started to show as the first half progressed.
Left winger Keith Treacy fired in a warning shot into the Blyth goalmouth in the sixth minute and Carlos Villanueva got his aim ready with a couple of efforts from distance. You could tell straight away that Carlos was up for it and ready to show Sam what he could be missing out on. In the 12th minute the South American hit a drive that the Blyth keeper Bell had to watch carefully as Matt Derbyshire was waiting in the wings as usual for the Michael Owen style predator strike.
Blyth for all there effort didn't reallget into Blackburn half much in the first half.
Rovers ploughed on and Derbyshire had the ball in the net via a defender but was deemed offside, replays proved this to be the correct decision marginally. Vince Grella had a shot blocked from a left foot volley. For all the pressure - Rovers and Blyth were level at half time, advantage the minnows.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first. Villanueva made himself some space and curled a low shot a foot wide of the goal from outside the box. Blyth did start to apply a bit of pressure after this but couldn't really notch a clear opening.
Then as the hour approached - a bit of magic. rovers were awarded a free kick on the left hand side of the area and Villanueva stood up to dispatch it with keeper given no chance. Plenty of whip on the ball and a clean strike. It was the Chilen player of the year at his best.
His reward? Being substituted for Jason Roberts a minute later! Keith Andrews also replaced the shattered Vince Grella and somehow missed a sitter with his first touch.
After the goal though Rovers sat back to protect what they had. Blyth mounted a brave grandstand finish, they twice went close to an equaliser near the end. Wright first fluffed a glaring opportunity and midfielder Alex Gildea also flashed a header wide from 9 yards.
It wasn't to be for Blyth but they can take a lot of credit. Rovers were through and had avoided the banana skin.
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Date:Tuesday January 6 2009
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