Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Sunday March 6 2011
5th March 2011
Attendance: 25,000 or so
It was a day of heartbreak in London as Rovers showed the character that they need to battle relegation but came away short of the luck that is required when the chips are down.
The match as a whole between two sides who needed the points was a cracking affair as both sides attacked well but defended naively which left the match open with plenty of opportunities.
Our boys lined up in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation with Martin Olsson restored to the wing and Junior Hoilett also inserted back into his regular spot on the right.
Gael Givet made a return to the side at left back and Steven N'Zonzi took his place in central midfield alongside Kean favourite Jermaine Jones.
Jason Roberts and Mame Biram Diouf were restored to the starting line up as Roque Santa Cruz dropped to the bench.
Rovers started brightly enough and were unlucky not to be ahead twice as smart stops from Fulham veteran Mark Schwarzer from Jason Roberts and an even better point blank stop from Mame Biram Diouf kept the scores level.
Whilst Fulham had the majority of the ball Rovers did look menacing on the break with plenty of pace being used out wide.
But as decent as the blue and whites looked pouring forward the defence continued to look shaky. Steve Kean made a big deal saying they had been working on defensive frailties but I would dread to think what we would defend like if we hadn't bothered working on it at all.
It was those defensive lapses that gave Fulham the lead as a swift passing move ended with the ball bobbling about a lot before the ball was spread wide to Damien Duff who had the freedom of the right hand side, cutting inside Givet before hitting a powerful shot in - Paul Robinson should have done better with the effort but it was dubious how sighted he was.
Either way it was a perfectly preventable chance and the ball should have never got near the Blackburn area.
But for once on the road, Rovers rallied after going behind and the endeavour was rewarded with a fortunate leveller after a corner had been half cleared, Grant Hanley shaped to shoot and his on target effort hit Brede Hangeland in the face and wrong footed Mark Schwarzer.
So half time and level... on the balance of play that was certainly fair.
The second half saw things increase in pace if anything and both sides were on the case with some fast play that kept the fans entertained. Rovers were again hesitant in defence and the more they failed to deal with corners and Damien Duff the more obvious it was that another could be conceded.
And right on cue, Rovers legs were flpping about and players in white were not closed down, leaving Damien Duff to again cut inside and fire past Robinson at his near post. It was a classic example of eveything wrong with the away sides defence.
Too much indecision, too much hesitation bought on by a lack of confidence.
But again Rovers came back and had a go, Hoilett and Olsson led the charge from the wings and it was Junior on hand to turn in a scrappy build up with a classy left foot finish from six yards after some clever work from Jason Roberts.
So 2-2 and all to play for, the game deserved to end in a draw on the balance of play (and if anything Rovers were the ones threatening in the last 15 minutes) but there was to be one last twist. And wouldn't you know it was a referee once again hogging the spotlight.
So often when you are on the slide and in need of a lift the luck doesn't go your way and after Fulham had a very dubious penalty call turned down from a Grant Hanley challenge a Fulham corner was awarded.
The corner was sent in there was jostling aplenty and referee Mark Clattenburg saw something that we all didn't and awarded a spot kick with a minute remaining to the stunned amazement of the Blackburn players.
I suppose looking at it you could see a couple of very soft infringements but if you give that then you are getting 20 penalties a game. It was a ridiculous decision that broke the away fans hearts.
The returning Bobby Zamora of course stepped up and dispatched the penalty home to give the headline writers the headline they wanted but for those of us from the North West it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Steve Kean now finds the pressure on big time and the home game with Blackpool is now a massive game he can't lose.
The fairest outcome was a point but Rovers could have had all three but instead left with nothing. Difficult to take.
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Date:Sunday March 6 2011
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