Rovers 1.v.2 Villa
Saturday 7th April 2007. 15:00 k.o
Attendance: 24, 211
Rovers were terrible in every way imaginable, clearly concentrating on next weeks big game. They just didn`t turn up, allowing an average Villa side to stroll to victory. This horrendous display means that dreams of qualifying for Europe through the league are all but over.
Villa started the game brightly and Brad Friedel was forced into a number of smart saves early on to keep the score in tact.
An effort from distance by Wilfred Bouma had Friedel scurrying. Rovers didn`t threaten until the 16 minute and that was through the aid of a large deflection off a Villa defender.
However, Rovers did manage to break the deadlock in the 24 minute. A long and hopeful punt over the top eventually found its way to Morten Gamst Pedersen. He tried to jink his way past Phil Bradsley but the young Englishman tripped the Norwegian, leaving referee, Martin Atkinson with little choice but to point to the spot.
This presented Benni McCarthy with a chance to end his goal draught, a chance he duly dispatched, drilling the ball past Thomas Sorenson.
This only served to rally Villa as they hit back with endeavour and drive and it wasn`t long until they were on level terms.
Rovers allowed Villa to casually switch play from left to right before delivering a ball into the box that found Patrick Berger totally unmarked. He took his time to slot the ball past a stranded Friedel to bring the scores level.
Rovers` response was less than emphatic as Villa ended the half strongly, again Friedel being called on to make a number of saves.
Mr. Atkinson brought the half to a close with the majority of the bumper 24, 211 crowd expecting more from the lads in blue and white.
However, it was Villa who re-surfaced re-galvanised and they were awarded a penalty just 90 seconds after the re-start following a dubious call of handball against Ryan Nelsen.
Gareth Barry, normally so emphatic from the spot this time saw his powerful drive repelled by Friedel who had learnt after being beaten by Barry earlier in the campaign.
That incident brought the game to life, more importantly, inspiring Rovers into action. Stephen Warnock showed exceptional control and skill before unleashing a rasping drive from distance whereas Villa continued to open up the Rovers defence.
The game became more stretched and both sides continued to go close but it was Villa who found the back of the net next and tellingly so.
Berger latched onto a loose ball in the middle of the park by sub, David Dunn before rolling a pass into the path of Gabriel Agbonlahor who strode clear of a static Rovers defence.
With just Brad Friedel to beat, Agbonlahor coolly fired into the bottom corner to lift Villa`s relegation hopes.
Rovers inevitably threw the kitchen sink at goal with Nonda forcing Sorenson into a smart save and David Bentley whipping a vicious free-kick past Sorenson but onto the bar.
It was an uninspiring display from Rovers and everything now depends on next Sunday. It is going to be a tough game against Chelsea but one can only hope that the players will be able to give 150% in that game seeing as they only afforded 50% against Villa.
The only player to emerge with any credability from the game.