Rovers 4v2 Reading
20th October 2007. 15:00
The message at Ewood on Saturday was one of togetherness, coming together as one community for one game, and the Rovers players certainly pulled together to brush aside a meek attack from Reading.
This game was won in the first half as Rovers showed their vast repertoire of attacking expertise to score three well executed goals.
Mark Hughes decided to start Roque Santa Cruz, to complete his miraculous comeback from injury. He was partnered in attack by a restored Benni McCarthy.
A tepid opening ten minutes was interspersed by some wayward long distance shooting from the away side.
A nice flowing move presented Chris Samba, once again finding himself on the edge of the area following an amble up field with a chance; only a half chance. McCarthy teed him up and he lashed a snap shot goal wards that was well saved by Marcus Hahnemann.
However, the opening goal wasn`t far away. Rovers were growing in confidence and the fluid movement of Santa`s support cast was causing the Reading defence copious amounts of problems.
Ewood was transformed into a cauldron of noise as the thumping home support sent out the battle cries to spark Rovers into action. Brett Emerton delivered a vicious whipped cross into the box which was met majestically by Santa Cruz at the back post. He elegantly headed back across goal for McCarthy to volley in.
A second goal soon followed, expertly created by the elusive David Dunn. He cut in from the right and as the Reading defence swayed in his direction he dissected the defence with a superb reverse ball into the path of Santa, who finished first time with some aplomb.
Rovers were in control and continued to maraud towards the Reading goal in numbers. A half chance followed but was cleared. However, it only fell as far as Stephen Warnock who chested down to the unmarked Tugay.
In a moment of brilliance and fitting of a player of his magnitude he immediately hit a first time half volley towards goal; struck so sweetly it deceived a desperate Hahnemann in flight.
Rovers were 3-0 up and relishing in the partisan atmosphere that had been created. The fine passing and movement of the attack, spearheaded by Santa was the crux of everything Rovers were creating.
A shell shocked Reading side created a solitary opening in the first half, a header for Bikey but he was denied by Brad Friedel.
Rovers proudly strutted off the park at the half-tie whistle, their omnipresent attacking display proving too much for Reading.
A double substitution at half time by Steve Coppell served as a warning that Reading were coming out for a battle in the second half. He reverted to a more recognised 4-4-2.
It was evident early on they were looking for quick goals. Leroy Lita fashioned a chance for himself that was well saved by Friedel.
Rovers were happy to sit back and absorb what Reading could muster and were largely untroubled for long periods.
Some nice flowing moves demonstrating the intelligent link-up play of Santa and McCarthy was a joy to behold by a jovial crowd who, like their heroes, were happy to sit back and enjoy the banter between themselves.
However, as a section of the crowd troubled themselves with mocking a steward too much, switching off from the action, Rovers` defence followed suit to let in substitute Kevin Doyle. He headed in at the near post after conspicuously shoving his marker to the ground.
Rovers response was immediate and had a tinge of arrogance about it. They demonstrated their superiority by going straight up field to score a fourth from the penalty spot.
Nice link up play between two substitutes, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Matt Derbyshire saw the latter skip into the area before being clipped. Andre Marriner, who had put in a sound display as referee, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Benni McCarthy lashed the ball into the bottom corner with great authority to make the score 4-1.
Reading had hit the bar earlier in the half and they soon added a second, a carbon copy of the first. Once again Nicky Shorey whipped a ball into the near post and once again Kevin Doyle headed in unmarked.
A blotch on what was a fine display through out. Rovers attacking prowess is growing and goals are coming from all angles at the moment.
There were a lot of star men out there, Dunn, Santa, Tugay but this is the first time this seaosn we have seen Benni of last season. He was creative, eager to be involved and showed tremendous understanding with his Paraguyan partner.
Santa Cruz 8