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
A brilliant save whilst scores were locked, and a few solid interventions throughout the game. Would be very dissapointed with his distrubtion though which is normally pin point perfect
Jason Lowe 6.5
The young man continues to develop in confidence. A few surging runs down the right flank allowed fast transition from defence into attack.
Grant Hanley 8
Man of the Match
Gael Givet 7
The warrior just continues to do what he does best. Forces his man off the ball, always in the right place, experience and class
Martin Olsson 6.5
Great to have the Swede back in the squad. Defended well, whilst became an extra outlet in attack. A bit rusty but that will all come back
Steve Nzonzi 7.5
Started off quietly as Petrovic bossed the midfield, but came into his own once Rovers were down to 10 men. When the opposition sends it out wide every time, it is because the man in the middle is doing his job. What a delightful pass for Formica as well!
Radosav Petrovic 8
A high rating for 30 minutes of action, but it was Petrovic’ best game in the jersey. Solid tackling as well as some delightful passing showed that those You Tube video’s are indeed real. Time for a 30 yard bomb Rado!
Junior Hoillet 6.5
Welcome back Junior. Whilst the end product was not their, he provides that extra outlet in attack, defenders fear him which is exactly what a struggling team needs
Morten Gamst Pedersen 7
Celebrating his 300th appearance, Morten Gamst Pedersen opened the scoring in style, a long overdue Direct Free Kick surging into the back of the net. Played really well, moved the ball and tracked back
David Dunn 7.5
Worked tirelessly for the cause, earning him self a goal in the process. Always looking for that gap in defence, whilst working hard in midfield when a man down
Unlucky to be sent off, but when your foot goes up that high, you take the risk…
David Goodwillie 7
Played the role perfectly. Held the ball up well, ran the channel and was dangerous
Mauro Formica 7
Come on, score, job done! Just another day in the office for Mauro!
Got it right. Sent out the team to exploit Fulham’s weakness in midfield, decided to take Petrovic off instead of Dunn since Dunny was doing a stellar job on Murphy and introduced Formica just when a fresh pair of legs was needed. Credit where credit is due