A Jeckyll and Hyde performance from Blackburn Rovers saw the men in blue and white halves pinch a late but deserved equaliser against a troubled Villa outfit, courtesy of Mr Blue and White, David Dunn.
Steve Kean reverted to his traditional 2 holding midfielder formation, with Nzonzi back in the starting line up, Formica filling inbehind Yakubu
Orr, Hanley, Dann, Martin Olsson
Gamst, Formica, Hoillet
Throughout the early stages, you could of sworn it was Aston Villa who were fighting for their Premier League future, the Villans in total control as they moved the ball well, restricting Rovers to minimal possession. A poor clearance saw the ball fall to Nzogbia, who in turn cut the ball into the path of ALbrighton, the winger flashing over from 12 yards.
Villa continued the pressure, attacking the flanks in an attempt to catch out Orr and Olsson. Their breakthrough came 25 minutes in after a sloppy piece of work by Morten Gamst Pedersen. Carlos Cuellar managed to dance around MGP, running 30 odd yards before finding the unmarked Nzogbia sitting in the box, 1 touch before he buried into the top of the net. 1-0 Villa
Rovers failed to maintain any sort of pressure in the first half, with Grant Hanley making his presence felt in defence whilst Paul Robinson up to his reflex best, denying Nzogbia and Albrighton as the first half came to a close.
Rovers made two changes at the break, David Dunn and Marcus Olsson replacing Formica and Petrovic. The substitutes almost made an immediate impact, Dunn releasing Olsson down the left flank, his pin point cross just evading the outstretched Yakubu.
Rovers continued to pressure early in the half, moving the ball well whilst Martin Olsson and Bradley Orr started to push higher up the pitch. Rovers almost equalised through traditional means, a Robinson free kick sent up field for Nzonzi to flick on, Dann heading the rebound just over the bar from 6 yards.
Morten Gamst Pedersen tried his luck from distance, volleying a half cleared effort, but Shay Given was up to the task, parrying it wide. It wasn’t all Rovers though as when Villa attacked, they created opportunities. Robinson stood tall to deny Nzogbia and Agbonlahor whilst Steve Ireland’s drive from 25 yards was well parried by the former England Number 1.
Rovers persisted though and finally claimed their rewards with 5 minutes left on the clock. Bradley Orr had been screaming for the ball all game, and when it finally came via a Nzonzi switch of play, Orr made the most of it, a cross to the far post where David Dunn lept highest, burying it into the corner and giving Rovers one last chance to stay up.
Both teams pushed on in an attempt to grab a late winner, but a 1-1 draw probably was the fair result
Paul Robinson 9
Bradley Orr 7
Has copped some stick in previous weeks but looks like he is settling in at Right back. Held his flank well, bombed on forward in the second half and created the equaliser
Grant Hanley 8
Splendid performance from the young Scot. Stood tall and tackled hard, making several vital interventions. Read the play well
Scott Dann 5
Inconistent from Dann. Very poor marking for the first goal, Nzogbia allowed to walk through in the box, whilst should have done much better with his free header down the other end
Martin Olsson 6
Bet of a mixed game. Livened up when his brother came on in the second to link well
Radosav Petrovic 4
Apart from a great pass to Orr in the first half, was very poor and rightfully substituted
Steve Nzonzi 7
Very solid performance. Was the only one composed in midfield, always looked for the pass and moved the ball well
Morten Gamst Pedersen 3
3 only because he improved in the second half…only so slightly. Not sure what is happening with our favourite Norweigan, but he is really, really off his game
Junior Hoilett 5
As dangerous as he looks, he can be just as sloppy and frustrating to watch. Lost the ball too many times with Yakubu screaming for it, needs to work for the team.
Mauro Formica 4
Poor half from Mauro, went to ground too easy several times and in the process cut out any attacking opportunity we may have had
At times showed his magic touch, holding the ball well and using his physical prescence, whilst at other times was a touch sloppy. Worked hard though
David Dunn 8
The game changer. Came on and fought for the full 45 minutes, he bleeds blue and white and it shows on the pitch
Marcus Olsson 7
Much better performance from the young man. Worked hard down the left flank, getting into some dangerous positions