Sloppy Rovers Need To Take Their Chances
Stadium of Light
22nd August 09
Attendance: 38,000 or so
It was a different weekend but the same story as last time out as Rovers were again raining in the shots but failing to find the net enough as Sunderland took their two real chances to take all three points on a sunny day in the North East.
The first incident of the game actually saw Rovers have the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out (extremely harshly) for a push on the keeper. Roberts was the man who had nodded in from close range but the Sunderland keeper Martin Fulop was 'pushed' by Chris Samba. In truth Fulop had missed a punch and Samba had nothing wrong but it was one of those annoying incidents where the keeper gets too much protection.
Sadly shortly after this, Franco Di Santo, who had some awesome touches of the ball pulled up with an injury and was replaced by fellow new boy Nikola Kalinic. A sad blow as Di Santo was looking handy.
Rovers dominated the first half hour and deservedly took the lead from their umpteenth corner of the game when Pedersen whipped the ball in, the ball fell to the feet of Gael Givet on the edge of the area and he lashed the ball home through a crowded box. One to the good and looking good.
Just after this Sunderland were roused and started to press but didn't really threaten too much until they actually levelled. A skillfull ball by Keiron Richardson got through to Jones after Chris Samba and big Kenwyne had a march on Robinson and lifted the ball over to tap into an empty net.
Half time saw another problem as captain Ryan Nelsen was injured again and had to be taken off as a precaution. Martin Olsson was his replacement with Givet moving to centre back as you would expect.
The second half was the blood and thunder affair that the first had been as well with Steven N'Zonzi and Keith Andrews trading heavy tackles with Lee Catermole and Cana in the centre of the park. Rovers however were the ones making the chances. A wayward ball into the Sunderland area somehow was spilled by Fulop and the ball somehow got scewed over the bar by Nikola Kalinic.
Just as things were looking to settle - Sunderland took the lead with the best move of the match. A neat it of team passing had Richardson racing down the right and his pin point cross was headed home by Kenwyne Jones for his second of the game. Robinson didn't stand a chance. Rovers didn't deserve to be losing but just last week against Man City - they were.
Rovers almost responded immediately but Steven N'Zonzi looping header was ruled out as Chris Samba was blocking the goalkeeper. I've seen them disallowed and I have seen them given. Either way it was destined not to be our day again.
And just to rub salt into the wounds right at the death Rovers had a glorious chance to equalise when the ball broke to debutant Nikola Kalinic in the centre of the area for the fairtale moment and a tame effort was easily gathered. Chance gone and match over.
Again, I must stress that despite, by some miracle, beng on the zero points mark we were desperately unlucky again. Again we were the better side but our finishing let us down again. Even the Croatian lad Kalinic had a couple of really tame efforts when he could of done much better. It is not the creation of chances that is the problem as many people thought it would be, its finding the killer touch.
If we could finish off the chances that we make we would be a top six side by now - Sam there is one major area you need to address.
Unlucky not to score, hard working, a big presence in the middle of the park, can find his man with his passes and can put in the hard yards. He will be worth a lot more than £400,000 this time next season.
Robinson - 6
Jacobsen - 7
Nelsen - 6
Samba - 7
Givet - 7
Diouf - 5
Andrews - 6
N'Zonzi - 8
Pedersen - 7
Roberts - 6
Di Santo - N/A
Kalinic - 6
Olsson - 5
McCarthy - 5