Lacklustre Rovers Clinch First Point
A super strike by former Barcelona starlet Ruben Rochina gave Blackburn an early lead, however the travelling outfit could not hold on very long, with Bobby Zamora striking back within 6 minutes.
Blackburn sent out what appeared to be an attacking line up, handing Deadline Day signing Scott Dann his first team debut, partnering Chris Samba in central defence. David Goodwillie was preferred up front to Jason Roberts, with Ruben Rochina pairing up with the Scotsman
Michel Salgado, Chris Samba, Scott Dann, Gael Givet
Mauro Formica, Steve Nzonzi, David Dunn, Junior Hoillet
Ruben Rochina, David Goodwillie
It was a nervous start for both the home and travelling outfits. Damien Duff looked most likely for Fulham, playing in an unusual role, partnering Bobby Zamora up front. His pace and positioning proved to be hot to handle, with Gael Givet struggling to keep up with the former Rover.
Whilst all the early possesion was with Fulham, Blackburn appeared to be dangerous on the counter. Goodwillie was doing his best to hold the ball up, whilst Junior Hoillet and Ruben Rochina were showing some impressive footwork and movement. And it was the latter who opened the scoring for Rovers. Collecting a return pass from David Goodwillie, Rochina took a touch and struck with minimal back swing, flying into the far corner of the Fulham goal, 1-0 Blackburn.
Blackburn immediately pushed on to gain a second, with Rochina and Hoillet yet again giving the Fulham defence a torrid time. However Rovers could not maintain the momentum, and it was Bobby Zamora who leveled things up for the Cottagers. Zamora turned Gael Givet inside out, who was having a poor half out on the left flank, bending the ball past the outstretched Paul Robinson and into the far corner of the net. 1-1
Things started to liven up as David Dunn attempted to move the ball as fast as possible, Rovers actually looking good playing the ball out of defence. Scott Dann was having a positive half, apart from a stray back pass, whilst Salgado flew into every tackle possible, some taking the ball and some not even coming close.
Half time came and Rovers were forced into a change, Chris Samba picking up a back strain, Givet forced into central defence whilst Martin Olsson pushed into left back.
Rovers were on the attack from the outset, setting up their best opportunity in the half. Formica was released down the left flank, with David Goodwillie flying into the centre of the box, Formica took the shot, however his tame attempt was easily picked up by Mark Schwarzer. Hoillet danced around the penalty box, a last ditch tackle by Sidwell prevented a shot from 10 yards.
On the other side of the pitch, Fulham began to apply the pressure after Rovers were forced into their second change, David Dunn off for Petrovic. Damien Duff continued to push up the pitch, with repeated crosses well cleared by Scott Dann and Gael Givet. The make shift central defence pairing were proving up to the task, with Olsson's pace counteracting the pace of Duff.
Fulham's best chance to seal the game came late on, with J A Risse darting down the left flank in acres of space. A delightful cross was spectacularly cleared by Gael Givet, inches from the approaching Bobby Zamora. Paul Robinson was kept on his toes throughout the later stages,
a fantastic save of a Dempsey attempt ensured Rovers were to clinch a point.
Their was a bit of controversy though as ever, with Mark Schwarzer taking out Junior Hoillet outside the box, with both players going up in an aerial challenge. Hoillet was stretchered off the field in a neck brace, whilst the Australian Keeper was issued a yellow card. The resulting free kick by Olsson led to little, both teams settling for a 1-1 result
Paul Robinson 6
Michel Salgado 6
Scott Dann 7
Chris Samba 5
Gael Givet 7
Steve Nzonzi 6
Ruben Rochina 7
David Dunn 6
Junior Hoillet 7
Mauro Formica 5
David Goodwillie 5
Martin Olsson 5