10 Man Rovers Clinch Rare Victory!
In one of the most entertaining fixtures at Ewood Park all season, goals to Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Dunn and Mauro Formica left the travelling Fulham supporters stunned following the 20th minute dismissal of Yakubu.
Blackburn Rovers welcomed back Paul Robinson, Martin Olsson and Junior Hoillet back into the starting line up following their recent injury stint on the side lines, with Henley, Bunn and Formica returning to the bench.
Lowe, Hanley, Givet, Olsson
Gamst, Petrovic, Hoillet
Fulham entered the fixture after a run of positive results and would of expected to have left Ewood Park with all 3 points. As for Rovers, sitting in 20th spot, anything but a win would be deemed as a negative as the pressure continued to build on manager Steve Kean.
The early stages flew past. Both teams attempted to move the ball to the flanks, with Duff being the main outlet for Fulham, whilst Olsson and Hoillet were back up to their old tricks, pacing up and down the sidelines. It was Fulham who created the first clear opportunity via Rovers old man Duff. A typical surging move down the flank saw Duff swing in a pin point cross, Zamora leaping highest, his powerful header crashing into the wood work, a sigh of relief for the Blues.
20 minutes in and with Blackburn moving the ball well, the fixture was turned on its head. A 50-50 challenge saw Yakubu raise his feet up to knee height, studs showing, grazing Danny Murphy. Referee Anthony Taylor had no hesitation, sending Yakubu on his way. Whilst it was high and studs were showing, their was absolutely no malicious in it. You win some you lose some!
To Rovers credit, the players did not sit back. Petrovic was forced to make way for Goodwillie, despite a few raking 40m balls and solid interventions, someone had to be sacrificed. So the task was up to Goodwillie to play the target man, and he was given a full 70 minutes to do so.
End to end action came to no avail for both teams as Paul Robinson pulled of the save of the week, a Danny Murphy Free Kick headed on by Senderos, with Robinson diving to his right to tip it wide. The resulting corner saw a scramble as Fulham tried to muster an opening, but Rovers stood firm with Grant Hanley standing tall, ensuring nothing flew over his head in the 6 yard box.
With the final seconds ticking, Rovers were awarded a free kick, inches outside the box after David Dunn was brought down. Up came Morten Gamst Pedersen, cheekily striking low and straight at the keeper's near post, with Stockland anticipating a left footed bender towards the far post. The ball snuck into the corner, Rovers 1-0 at Half-Time.
Martin Jol send out his recruits early after a half-time blast, but it appeared to have little effect. Junior Hoillet dashed down the left flank, feeding Goodwillie who pranced around before taking a shot. It was deflected into David Dunn's path, the veteran midfielder making no mistake, burying it from just inside the 18, 2-0 Blackburn.
Only minutes' later, Dempsey found the back of the net, but was correctly ruled offside after breaking too early from Duff's free kick which was parried on by Robinson. As the Ewood faithful were breathing a sigh of relief, it was that man again, Damien Duff who pulled one back for the visitors. Given too much space down the right flank, Duff controlled well, jinking towards the 6 yard box before drilling it to the far post, through Olsson's legs and into the back of the net, 2-1.
After a solid 65 minutes, David Dunn made way to a standing ovation, with Mauro Formica slotting into the hole behind Goodwillie.
Junior Hoillet almost restored Rovers' two goal cushion, a neat turn in the box created space for the shot, however Stockdale was on hand to parry wide and keep Fulham in the game. Fulham upped the tempo, bringing on Andy Johnson as the extra man up front, and it almost brought instant reward, his venemous free kick parried by Robinson, with Lowe on hand to clear away.
Blackburn put the game beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go. A sharp counter saw Steve Nzonzi slot a delightful chipped through ball (L1 Triangle for the Fifa nuts!), Mauro Formica evading the offisde trap, volleying home from 16 yards out, giving Blackburn Rovers a massive 3 points to temporarily left them out of the drop zone.
Paul Robinson 7
Jason Lowe 6.5
Grant Hanley 8
Gael Givet 7
Martin Olsson 6.5
Steve Nzonzi 7.5
Radosav Petrovic 8
Junior Hoillet 6.5
Morten Gamst Pedersen 7
David Dunn 7.5
David Goodwillie 7
Mauro Formica 7