Date: 3rd January 2008 at 10:38am
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In recent weeks we have been praying for some professional and accomplished displays to see an up-turn in fortunes when all that was needed was an under-par and lacklustre performance. It was far from pretty but it engineered three points, a goal for Benni McCarthy and a clean sheet, plus the added bonus of a former Rover being sent off on a bitingly cold evening in Blackburn.

Mark Hughes made a single change with Chris Samba returning to partner Ryan Nelsen after the birth of his son.

Mark Hughes would have pressed his charges to make an up-tempo start but it was Roy Keane`s men who took the game to Rovers early on. The power and presence of Kenwyne Jones was being complemented by the elegance and guile of Kieran Richardson to engineer a number of half chances for the travelling Mackems.

However, very few troubled Brad Friedel in the Rovers goal and it was in fact Blackburn who went closest to scoring in a dour first half. David Bentley once again demonstrated his expertise from a dead ball situation, whipping a vicious free-kick narrowly off target from all of 30 yards.

Roque Santa Cruz, who was looking worryingly subdued, also glanced a header wide, when he showed have found the target.

Sunderland continued to enjoy the lions share of possession with a particularly interesting battle arising between two veterans, Tugay of Rovers and Dwight Yorke of Sunderland.

The pair were pulling all the strings for both sides, making intelligent passes and doing their best to unsettle the opposition. Tugay did receive a yellow in the first half having been caught out by a Sunderland break.

With little more in the way of notable event, both sides trudged off for half time. However, Santa Cruz wasn`t to re-emerge after the break, replaced by Matt Derbyshire.

The game exploded into life in the 50th minute when Rob Styles awarded his seventh penalty of the season – more than any other referee – adjudging that Chris Samba had fouled Daryl Murphy in the area. It was a clumsy piece of defending by the giant Congolese defender, epitomising Rovers as a whole on the evening.

Alas, for the second consecutive game, Friedel guessed the right way the penalty would be struck and comfortably held onto Dean Whitehead`s placed effort. Sunderland looked flustered but things took a turn for the worse just minutes later as Rovers went up field and were awarded a penalty of their own.

Chris Samba, once again in the thick of the action, swivelled and shot and the ball struck the arm of a defender. Styles had little hesitation pointing to the spot and presented Benni McCarthy with the ideal opportunity to end his two month wait for a goal.

Of course Rovers fans were dubious considering McCarthy missed his last penalty but he lashed this one home with some aplomb, clinically drilling the ball into the corner.

Despite the goal this failed to lift Rovers` display instead Sunderland pluckily continued to press in search of an equaliser. However, their inability to generate any clear openings was their Achilles heal. The game was then affected once more by Rob Styles when he sent off former Rover Dwight Yorke for two yellow cards in five minutes, both deserved following lunges from behind, the first of which forced substitute Matt Derbyshire off.

Rovers then, finally, managed to control the game and never looked like relinquishing their lead.

Player Ratings

Friedel 9
Saved the day again.

Warnock 7
Emerton 7
Nelsen 8
Solid and resolute.

Samba 7
A tad clumsy in parts.

Bentley 7
Couldn’t influence the game as much as normal.

Gamst 7
Better distribution.

Tugay 8
Pulled the strings but at times was over-shadowed.

Mokoena 7
McCarthy 8
Santa Cruz 7
Derbyshire 6
Dunn 6


17 Replies to “Rovers 1v0 Sunderland”

  • It wasn’t pretty but it was perhaps what was needed. Clean sheet will be a great boost for the lads. Coventry, Bolton and Boro next. We have to approach those games feeling confident surely.

  • Well we should def have a go at the next 3 teams – Coventry will be hard as its the cup but I feel we have enuff to blood some fringe players and still come out on top. Bolton always a hard game but they may have lost Anelka by that time so may be a good time to play them and Boro are an ok team but are def beatable though

  • Yeah, agree dude not pretty but the job was done which is the main thing isn’t it. Winning when not playing well is something that I can live with.
    We have matches coming up now that CAN and maybe even SHOULD be won, three wins out of three is VERY possible.

  • Must win games coming up, great report, can someone give a detailed wrap on Gamst’s performance, im just curious as i couldnt watch the game, darn blackout

  • Yer kind of what we needed really, a bit of luck with the penalties, a clean sheet for the defence and Benni getting a goal. Shame about Yorke being dirty and injuring Derbyshire. yer next three games shud be 3 out of 3 deff. Pedersen was top man at winning the ball in midfiled i though slightly poor on corners but improving still. Think it was a good start for him 2008 keep it up.

  • Sasman – Gamst played alright, a lot of running and trying to create. Muscled off the ball a lot and the odd wayward touch. I thought positionally be could have done better and let Sunderland have too much space to come forward. Basically he’s looking brighter all the time but is still a dull reflection of what he can be.

  • I think the overal ratings were a little on the high side. Friedal didn’t have anything to apart from the penalty. If he had decided to go the other way, it would have been a different story. It was nice to Gamst get stuck in (on occasion…). I didn’t think Cruz’s performance warranted a substitution. On the first half performance I would have subbed McCarthy. And I agree Martinr, it was very cold…

  • cant agree with nelsen, he isnt living up to the high standards he has usually set, he got turned by kenwyne jones a few times but his lack of quality in front of goal saved nelly.

    But apart from that mate, totally agree.

  • santa cruz go subbed due to injury thats what sparky said after the game anyway! ah well what i said i wanted is exactly what we got benni on the scoresheet and a clean sheet! by the way friedel is a legend in case you didnt know

  • Roque was limping a bit, I think he picked up a knock. I also think the ratings are a tad generous considering an awful first half. As for Nelsen, I’ve been disappointed with him all season so far but last night he really showed up and controlled the back. A deserved man of the match for me!

  • Well done fella not pretty but another three points and it sees that if one of your strikers doesn’t score the other one does.. Wo is up next Bolton and Boro ? if you can get maximum poits from those games you are right back in the European places…

  • Yeah sorry I forgot to mention in the report that Roque was injured. Sorry for any confusion guys. Chix, you are right, we have to look for six points from our next two league games and then we are still very much in the mix.

  • we were poor and conditions did not make for a good game but we did enough and that is all I ever ask of the boys. The best player on the pitch was Ryan Nelsen.

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