Rovers 3.v.1 Watford
18th April 2007. 20:00 k/o
A whirlwind opening from Rovers thoroughly blew Watford away as relegation now beckons for the unfortunate southern side.
Mark Hughes kept faith with the same starting eleven that fought so bravely against Chelsea and it wasn`t long before they were showing a clinical touch that was decidedly lacking on Sunday.
Rovers took the lead from their first corner after 7 minutes when Christopher Samba towered above the Watford defence at the back post to nod David Bentley`s centre over the line.
Watford were stunned and it wasn`t long before they found themselves further behind. Jason Roberts picked up where he left off at Old Trafford by smartly sweeping the ball beyond Ben Foster who got a solid hand to it. David Bentley was once again the architect releasing the burly front man who averted the attentions of Carlisle to drive his effort in.
Rovers were rampant and Bentley should have made it three when he selfishly elected to shoot with better options available. Rovers did find the net for a third time but Morten Gamsts Pedersen`s tap-in was adjudged to be offside.
Soon after Watford hit back with a rare foray into the Rovers half. Rinaldi rose at the back post to head in Bouazza`s cross.
This was merely a distraction from the main feature as more sumptuous build up play down the right found Bentley in space again. His pinpoint cross was emphatically headed home by Benni McCarthy, a special goal as he became the first Rovers striker to score twenty goals in a Premiership season since Alan Shearer.
Watford were affording Rovers time and space and they were thoroughly enjoying themselves, working hard to banish the memories of Sunday.
Rovers finished the half strongly and the teams went in with Watford seemingly out of the game.
As expected Watford started the second period strongly in a bid to wrench them back into the game. Openings were sparse though with Rovers looking more threatening on the break and but for some poor finishing and questionable decisions Rovers could have bulldozed their way to a large score line.
Steve Kabba and Marlon King was the new look attack for Watford in the second half and Kabba stung the fingers of Brad Friedel with a rasping drive.
Roberts was having a tremendous game, finally proving to the Ewood faithful that he does have some talent. He has endure a torrid spell at Ewood to date with injuries and lack of form peppering his campaign.
His surging runs and direct play, not seen since the opening game at Ewood against Everton caused Watford all kinds of problems.
In the end Rovers ran out comfortable winners but for some pressure from Watford. The win catapults the club back into the top half and keeps their slim hopes of Europe alive.
I have been his biggest critic this season but tonight he was tremendous. Strong, direct and partially lethal.