Scores tied in Lancashire Thriller
In the 140th edition of the Lancashire Derby, Bolton made the 19 mile trek to Ewood Park. With plenty to play for, both teams aimed to earn a vital victory to claw there way away from the tight battle at the wrong end of the table. King Sam Allardyce faced the Bolton outfit which he managed for 7 years, whilst Kevin Davies returned to play against his former club. Rovers reinstalled Jason Roberts up front with Benni McCarthy, and returned to the midfield combination of Keith Andrews and Vince Grella.
A slow start to the derby, with long balls and poor passing dominating. However, it took Bolton 15 minutes for the first attempt on goal, and it gave the visitors the early advantage. Route 1 football sent Makukula free on the right flank. His attempt on goal or cross, take it how you saw it, found Matthew Taylor, who's outstreched leg reached the ball ahead of Andre Oijer, beating Paul Robinson. 1-0 Bolton.
Makukula was once again in the thick of the action moments later. He pounced on a poor clearance, with his acrobotic bicycle kick apparently striking the forearm of Samba, however, no claim for a penalty was made. Bolton were not to be denied in the 34th minute, as they went 2 up in the derby. Gretar Steinsson took charge of the ball on the right flank, cutting it in to Kevin Davies. Davies effort was brilliantly parried by Paul Robinson, however Davies was first to react, pouncing on the loose ball and finding the back of the net. 2-0 Bolton.
Rovers were shellshocked and stunned. Poor Delivery from Gamst and Emerton, and not much creative football from the centre of the park would of caused some concern for Allardyce. Rover's first real effort on goal came in the 45th minute, a clearance from a corner found Keith Andrew's, who strayed his volley wide of the target, half time, 2-0 Bolton.
After a lacklustre first half, Sam must of let loose on his players, as the second half was a complete different ball game. The Introduction of Tugay and Roque Santa Cruz for Andre Oijer and Morten Gamst Pederson saw a reshuffle in the line up. The change brought instant rewards. Steven Warnock darted down the flank, with Benni McCarthy slicing the defence with a throughball. Warnock Carried on his run, blasting his shot into the back of the net. Hope for Rovers, 2-1 Bolton.
Rovers upped the tempo, with Warnock and EMerton racing down the flanks, Grella chasing down everything in central midfield, and Tugay pulling all the strings. Benni McCarthy dropped back in behind Roberts and Roque, creating even more opportunities and providing an extra man in midfield. Warnock almost stunned Jussi Jaaskaleinin minutes later, with a poorly struck cross swerving its way goal bound. Jussi made a late save, forcing a corner.
Tugay then showed that age is no barrier. A delightful 35 yard throughball over the top of the Bolton backline found Roque Santa Cruz, who's first touch came of his shoulder at best. He rounded the Finnish Keeper, but was brought down in the box. Referee Mike Deans pointed to the spot, awarding a penalty. However, he deemed that Jussi did not prevent a goal scoring opportunity (go figure, open net?), and only awarded the keeper a yellow card. Benni McCarthy stepped up, but his poorly struck attempt was parried by Jaaskaleinin. Benni then scuffered the rebound effort after colliding with Andrews, who then only managed to pass it straight to the keeper. Wasted opportunity for Rovers.
Blackburn continued to maintain the pressure, with several corners reaping no reward. However, Rovers finally took their chance in the 86th minute. An Emerton cross found the head of Chrissy Samba, who directed the ball goal wards. The ball found Jason Roberts on the far post, who couldnt manage to get a shot on. However, he saw Benni Mc, and cut the ball central with the tip of his toe. Benni Made no mistake from 3 yards out, blasting the ball into the back of the net, 2-2.
Grella was substitued in the 90th minute, with the Axe Mokoena making an appearance. However, Rovers were looking for the win, and almost stole it in the 93rd minute. A free kick outwide was whipped in, and Nelsen rose highest, however, his header struck the far post, and was cleared. What does he have to do to get that goal.
Full Time, 2-2
Are we sure he is 38? Give him a 4 year contract, the Maestro deserves a statue outside of Ewood Park. He creates time on the ball, holding up the play, pulling all the strings. Grella gave Tugay plenty of time on the ball, shutting out Kevin Nolan, giving Tugay the space he needs to work with. Delightful ball for Roque, great distribution.
Paul Robinson 7
Steven Warnock 7
Chris Samba 7
Ryan Nelsen 7.5
Andre Oijer 6
Morten Gamst Pedersen 6
Brett Emerton First Half 6.5 Second Half 7.5
Keith Andrews 6.5
Vince Grella 8
Benni McCarthy 7
Jason Roberts 7
Roque Santa Cruz 7.5
What a great change, shifted the team around, got 2 up front with Benni Dropping in, deployed Tugay at the right time. Was hoping he would bring in Carlos Villanueva for Andrews when we were 2-1 down, but hey, we got a point out of it