Blackburn managed to hold onto a vital point against a Liverpool outfit who failed to make their dominance count.
Manager Steve Kean decided to place Mark Bunn in goals, as well as giving Adam Henley a starting birth, listed at right midfield but always going to play at left back.
Lowe, Hanley, Samba, Henley
Hoillet, Dunn, Nzonzi, Gamst
Liverpool were out to avoid yet another draw at Anfield, with an attacking line up including Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez who would prove to be tricky customers up front. And it was the latter who got the ball rolling, a free kick from just outside the box flying inches over Mark Bunn’s goal. Charlie Adam was next to test Rovers, driving from distance arrowed straight at Bunn. Liverpool attempted to use the flanks regularly, with Downing attacking the inexperienced Henley on several occasions. However Henley did his share, forcing Downing either into a difficult cross, or showing him who indeed is boss and taking possession.
In attack, Rovers were content on hitting on the counter. Move the ball wide to Hoillet, or send it up to Yakubu to hold up was the game plan. However for Rovers, little was created as Liverpool continued to pressure. Maxi found space through the middle, however Suarez could only find side netting. Liverpool could not break down the Rovers defence with Samba and Hanley proving immense in the 6 yard box, ensuring Carroll would not get a free header.
Liverpool did manage to create a great opportunity to open the scoring. A cross from the left side of midfield force a 6 yard box scramble as Rovers could not clear. Andy Carroll managed to pounce, his shot tipped away from 4 yards by Mark Bunn, determined not to be beaten. Minutes later, Rovers avoided a double scare.
Suarez fed through Carroll who turned and slotted it in the back of the net, referee Mike Jones calling play back for an offside. Another offside call, this time on Suarez, saved Rovers’ skin as Bunn caught his man, bringing him down, only for the whistle to save him.
Without registering an attempt on target, Rovers still managed to take the lead moments before the break. Yakubu earned the Blue’s a corner, with Gamst arrowing it towards the near post. A hashed clearance by Charlie Adam saw the ball rifle into the net, 1-0 Rovers
Liverpool came out in the second all guns blazing as the mood had settled at Anfield. Adam continued to try his luck from distance whilst Maxi and Downing hit the by-line on every available opportunity. And it was Maxi who levelled the scores 55 minutes in. Stuart Downing sent in a corner, Skrtel flicking the ball back across goal for an unmarked Maxi, heading into an open net from 3 yards. 1-1
Liverpool suddenly turned up the heat, but also earned a yellow for diving in the process. Agger dashed into the box before taking a fall, right in front of the eyes of Mr Jones who correctly handed Agger a yellow card. Gerrard soon returned to action, almost setting up a goal from his first touch, his free kick flicked just over.
For all their defending, Rovers managed to create a golden opportunity with 10 to go. David Dunn pounced in midfield, skipping past two men before darting into the box. As he lined up his shot, Yakubu had other idea’s, running into the path of the midfielder and earning himself a gobful!
Liverpool did up the pressure, with two golden saves in the 5th and 6th minute of a 4 minute injury time period giving Rovers a vital point. Bellamy flew down the left wing, crossing in for Carroll to strike, however Bunn had other ideas, picking it out of the corner and sending it wide. From the resulting corner, Agger was left unmarked, his powerful header cleared off the line by Henley.
2 brilliant saves ensuring Rovers did not leave Anfield Empty handed. 1-1
Mark Bunn- 9
Man of the Match
Jason Lowe 6
Solid if unspectacular performance. Struggled with the quality of Maxi on the flank, but did manage to make some vital interventions
Grant Hanley 7
Best game in the jersey. Stood tall when needed, positioning himself well alongside Chris Samba in defence
Chris Samba 8
Immense performance. Completely shutdown Carroll, positioning himself perfectly at all times
Adam Henley 8
The young man had a shaky start, but once he put his foot in it, he was brilliant, a handful of cracking challenges to add to the last minute wonder clearance.
Steve Nzonzi 6
Solid game in midfield. tracked back well and did not allow Liverpool to push through the middle
David Dunn 7
Very lively performance, was disgusted with the Yak, thats football!
Junior Hoillet 5
Poor game for Junior. We needed him to be lively and a threat, he was nothing like it…
Gamst Pedersen 6
Defensively, played really well, tracking back to help Hanley at all times. In attack, not much, giving the ball away a few times in midfield
Mauro Formica 6
Very quiet performance from Mauro.
Sloppy, lost the ball too many times and 2 tame attempts on goal