In a game in which both teams simply could not drop points, Rovers were boosted with the return of the Giant, Mr Ooijer, whilst Newcastle where blessed with the return of their top scorer, Obefeni Martins. Dunny was missing from action.
In what was a pretty lopsided first half, Newcastle dominated proceedings, with Rovers getting minimal opportunities on counter attacks, the best opportunity falling to Andre Ooijer, who forced Harper into a save. Friedel was at his almighty best, making a fine string of saves.
After the break, Sparky decided to bring on Roberts and Derbyshire, with both players significantly changing the momentum of play. Roberts was able to link up well with Santa Cruz, with David Bentley floating in behind. Rovers slowly gained momentum, however, Brad Friedel kept Blackburn in the game with a double save of Michael Owen.
Against the run of play, Blackburn countered, with a long ball from Gamst reaching Bentley, who released Derbyshire, sprinting up the field and slotting the ball past Harper.
3 points gained on our journey back to Europe.
Brad Friedel 10
Outstanding. Defies gravity. Awesome. What can you say, when we have the best keeper going around, we can just park the bus out the front.
Stephen Warnock 5.5
Really sloppy, might be time for a break, bring on Olsson
Andre Ooijer 7
Looked solid, however appeared to suffer a few niggles
Christophe Samba 7
Not as solid as we have become use to, however he sure knows how to link up with the midfield, could be used a bit further up the field.
The stand out defender, really pushing to claim the spot as his
Brett Emerton 6.5
Had a few chances to overlap, however did not track back as well as he should of….Comon EMO!!!!
Morten Gamst Pedersen 7.5
You really can see the confidence coming back. No where near his best, but he is getting there. Also tracked back well, blocking a shot from Duff
Steven Reid 8
Bommy might disagree, but Reid was a rock in the middle of the park. Good darting runs also
David Bentley 9
Our main threat. Took control, knocked the ball around, when we did attack, it was through him.
Santa Cruz 7.5
10 for effort, chased down, got up, won every header. 5 for finishing, could of scored a brace, difficult chances but he really needs to get them
Benni Mac 6
Nothing special from Benni. Could not really get into the game
Jason Roberts 7
Big physical prescence, you can see his role in the game, whether he is a starting player who knows
Matty Derbyshire 8.5
Hungery, hungry, hungry. Oozing with talent, great finish, kept his calm, ran half the field, and slotted a 1v1 from 20 yards out….all in the 89th minute…class
Yes we were out dominated. Yes, maybe if Martins had the shots rather than Owen we would be asking for players to be dropped. However, Friedel did his job, Gamst Did his job, Bents did his Job, all this allowed Derbs to do his job. End of the day, 3 points.
Villa 1-1, 2 points caught up
West Ham 0-4 Skipped ahead of the hammered by another 3 Points.
Getting there lads