With both teams finding them selves at alternate ends of the table, Aston Villa made the trip to Ewood Park. Villa would of been anticipating success, as they have beaten the Lancashire outfit 7 out of the last 8 times. Allardyce decided to make a few changes, Di Santo coming in for Roberts, Nzonzi in for Andrews, Jacobsen at right back and Nelsen in for Givet….
The Rovers game plan was tossed out the window after only 3 minutes. A long ball by Brad Friedel was flicked on by James Milner, with Agbonlahor finding open space, rolling the ball past the outstreched arms of Robinson, hitting the far post and trickling inside the goal. 1-0 Aston Villa….
Rovers, stunned, but responded well. David Dunn scuffed a shot outside the box, with the ball rolling across to Pedersen who blasted over. Di Santo had an opportunity off a Rovers throw in, however Ex Rover Stevie Warnock put his body on the line, blocking the Argentinians effort.
Ashley Young looked a threat on the flank for the Villians, however, his traditional perfect delivery just wasnt happening. 2 crosses narrowly missed the free John Carew, whilst set pieces found their way straight into Robinson’s arms.
Rovers made Villa pay for wasting set pieces. RYan Nelsen sent the ball skywards into the box, with Di Santo battling with his marker, the ball bounced into the path of Samba, who half volleyed into the bottom left corner of the goal….1-1
In what was proving to be an entertaining encounter, Villa were next in line to take some chances, with Young and Carew blasting wide and over respectively. Friedel then reminded Rovers (if we ever needed reminding) of the quality he possesses, making a perfect reflex saving preventing Dunn scoring from an acrobatic bicycle kick.
With the pressure on, Rover’s almost gave one away as a sloppy pass from Chimbonda found Milner, who darted into the box, however his shot couldnt get past Robinson. Half Time, 1-1
The second half started with more of the same, however Rover’s had the upper hand, with Villa holding back. The game then took a twist, with Vince Grella picking up a second yellow for a reckless tackle. Rovers made the changes, bringing on Brett Emerton and Keith Andrews for Dioufy and Pedersen in an attempt to condense the midfield. And boy didnt it work!
Friedel continued to be the thorn, pulling of another reflect save of Brett Emerton’s powerful strike. Di Santo continued to press, and impress the Rover’s faithful with his ability on the ball, and work ethic. He was denied a penalty in the 83rd minute, however, was’nt to be denied in the 88th. Di Santo controlled the ball, and struck an acrobatic bicycle kick, which was handballed by Richard Dunne. David Dunn stepped up to the plate, blasting into the left corner, 2-1 Rovers…
Villa almost snared an equaliser, a Collins long shot found a slight deflection, however Robinson was up to the task, parrying it wide… Rovers 2-1
Paul Robinson 7.5
Made some good solid reflex saves, great in the air, shutting down several Aston Villa free kicks, and the save in the dying minutes. Well Done Robbo
Ryan Nelsen 7
Solid performance from the Admiral. Looked a touch underdone, but he got stuck in and did what he normally does
Chris Samba 7.5
Would of got a higher rating, but was out of position for the Villa Goal. Great finish from the big man, and got to almost ever attacking header first
Lars Jacobsen 8
What a bargain Jacobsen is proving to be. Great on the counter, worked hard to shut down Young, and composed on the ball
Pascal Chimbonda 7.5
Good performance from Pascal, holding the left flank very tightly. Poor pass almost cost us
Steven Nzonzi 7.5
This guy will be amazing. Great long passing game, and shows his prescense. I think the future of the Rover’s midfield is a Nzonzi Grella combination.
Vince Grella 6.5
Got stuck in in defence, couldnt do much about his first yellow, he had to bring his man down otherwise they were free, however poor challenge for the second yellow, should know better….
Gamst Pedersen 6
Poor performance from Gamst. His crosses couldnt beat the first man, and no real impact in attack
El Hadji Diouf 7
Decent game from Dioufy, too much whinging as we expect, but did cause some damage down the flank
David Dunn 10
Ok, i have given about 2 or 3 ratings of 10 since I started doing reports a season and a half ago. But, Dunn’s performance was one of the best single man display’s I have seen in years. The way he took control, the way he dazzled with the ball at his feet, and the way he encouraged Di Santo throughout the game was something to behold…
Franco Di Santo 9
What a performance from the young Argentinian. His bicycle kick was goal bound, he fought and fought the hole 90 minutes as a loan striker and really proved what he has. Hopefully their is more to come!