Rovers can't break down Pompey
Sat 3rd April
Attendance: 16,000 or so
In a game where it was obvious for all to see that there was little to play for in the grand scheme of things, Rovers were always the better side but looked toothless in front of goal.
A 0-0 draw was a handy point but not the result it should have been against a (practically)) already relegated yet spirited Portsmouth.
For the first game since the January transfer window, Blackburn looked like they needed Benni McCarthy on the pitch as a clutch of chances ranging from half a chance to glaring were spurned.
Both teams started off at a pace only a touch above pedestrian as the pressure was off but Rovers were the ones making more of an impression in the final third.
That is not to suggest Rovers did not have some nice interplay, some of the passing between between Dunn, Diouf, Pedersen, Olsson, The Zonz and Salgado was at times very effective and good to watch. But the lack of composure in front of goal was glaring.
Even Morten's crossing boots were largely evident and some delicious deliveries deserved better.
First up for the miscue (as always) was Jason Roberts. J-Rob watched a rebound from a headed clearance drop to him six yards out from goal and rather than smashing it home as most strikers would do, he went for grace and precision.
Sadly he is Jason Roberts and it clumsily rolled off the bottom of his foot and straight to Chris Samba, who on the turn smacked it but was stopped by Ashdown in the Pompey goal.
Next up for a go was David Dunn, after Olsson had shielded and attempted a back heel on goal, the ball fell for Dunn on his weaker foot... it was a crisp strike but it hit the outside of the post and bounced to safety.
Next up it was the Hampshire boys with their foot on the on the gas as Utaka bundled himself at pace into the area and the hand of Paul Robinson could only direct the ball up onto the head of hard working chav Jamie O'Hara, his header looked destined for the net but Gael Givet twisted his body round to head the ball of the line borderline miraculously.
The second half looked to be petering out but not before Rovers hit the post again, this time through massive set piece demolition man Chris Samba.
Samba was given the freedom of the South Coast by Richardo Rocha from a centrally positioned Pedersen free kick, his header was looping and it was strong, but the paint was again chipped as the ball cannoned off the frame of the goal and Diouf got the rebound blocked.
Goalless at half time and heaven knows how.
The second half followed much the same pattern as the first with Pompey looking good on the ball but Rovers somewhat overpowering them in midfield through N'Zonzi and Pedersen.
Olsson was becoming a big factor down the Pompey right and was in part responsible for Pompey being reduced to ten men. Olsson was gaining pace as the already booked Antony Van Den Borre left an arm dangling to blatantly handball to prevent Olsson a clear run at the area. It was a stupid thing to do and he was rightly sent off.
Rovers looked to press on as Pompey sat back with a man less on the pitch. Morten sent in the mother of all crosses that was begging to be dispatched but there was no-one gambling and it zipped out for a goal kick.
The forcefield was then threatened a different way as Salgado has a go on his lefy foot after a corner bounced free but that was blazed over. Even Roberts was given a good chance after a good cross by sub Junior Hoilett but his effort on the spin was straight at the grateful Ashdown in the Pomoey goal.
Big Sam tried to change things by bringing on Kalinic, the wasteful Grella and the aforementioned Hoilett but it was clear from the action unfolding that the ball was never destined to hit the net.
A clean sheet for Rovers away from home was a positive but one point really should have been three. The move to put two up front by Allardyce came too late for my money as that would have tested Pompey's numerical disadvantage a bit more.
Oh well, at least we are safe!
Crafty on that inside left channel and apart from odd dodgy free kick was the sides most creative player from set pieces and when whipping in crosses.
Also put in an amazingly sterling shift next to Steven N'Zonzi in the defensive trenches.
Robinson - 6
Looked assured and looking thin.
Salgado - 7
Was shown up for pace by the impressive O'Hara but stuck to task well. Good link play with Diouf on the right going forward as well.
Samba - 7
Was an aerial presencce at both ends of the pitch and unlucky not to score.
Jones - 8
Phil has come a long way, his tackling was more or less inch perfect and never ducked out of a collision. Top stuff.
Diouf - 6
On the negative side, plenty of indecision when a better pass would have led to a good opportunity and loads of moaning.
The Zonz - 7
Grafted like a trooper in the middle and sprayed the short balls around and kept base a happy place. Well done.
Pedersen - 8
A good day at the office and with more clarity in the box would have seen at least two assists.
Olsson - 7
He has got pace in his boots and can motor with the best of them but his inexperience in advanced positions stopped his performance from going from 'good' to 'very good'
Dunny - 7
Will always cause a problem but needed more of the ball.
Givet - 6
Great header off the line from O'Hara saved the day.
Roberts - 6
But his finishing and composure were fairly shocking and is not a lone striker.
Grella - 4
The reason for the low mark is that he can't seem to help himself from going for that HOLLYWOOD ball.
He was on the pitch for half an hour and FIVE times I counted a great tackle, the chance to go for a good short pass and he passed it up to go long... it went out of play.
With a bit more common sense in his play he could be awesome.
Hoilett - 6
Similar to Grella, with some sensible crosses he could be very good. One for the future.
Kalinic - 5
With more time could have got into the game.