Whilst, for this season, this might not be the Big Derby, local pride was at stake as Blackburn Rovers, under Assistant Manager Neil McDonald, made the 15 mile trip to the Reebok, facing a Bolton outfit languishing in the relegation spots.
A change of formation for the Blue and Whites, Roberts leading the strikeforce with Di Santo, with Blackburn playing a flat 3 in midfield, whilst Diouf and Dunn rotated in the attacking midfield role. Gamst Pedersen was not even on the bench, whilst Vinnie G made a welcome return on the substitutes bench.
The match kicked of in typical derby style. Lots of hunger shown by the lads, with not an inch given on the field. However, it was all route one to start with. Neither team wanted to give the ball away, and long was the safest way out. The first shot of the game did fall to the visitors. A headed clearance found its way out to David Dunn, left foot volley gliding a metre wide of the far post.
After a few clumsy tackles from both sides, it was Bolton’s turn to attack. A long drifted ball dropped over the outstreched leg of Gael Givet, however Kevin Davies couldnt react in time, with his scuffed shot cleared by Givet. Play was momentarily stopped as the Rovers physio checked on Nzonzi who was down in back play….
Both sets of fans were in full voice, and both went through the emotions in the matter of a minute. After another clumsy foul, Matt Taylor lined up a free kick, 30 yards from the Rovers goal. A powerfull strike was deflected, leaving Robinson stranded, however, striking the crossbar. The ball eventually found its way to Robinson, who released Di Santo down the left flank. After jinking inwards, Di santo found Roberts, who turned his man, and cut the ball to Dunn. Dunn looped his first time shot into the top right corner of the net, and the Rovers faithful went up…..Dunnnnnyyyy for Englandddd….1-0 Rovers
Gael Givet made way for Lars Jacobsen, looked to be clutching at his ribs.
What would a local derby be without a bit of push and shove. After a late tackle by Muamba on Dunn, both decided to shove their weight around and both recieved yellow cards. Well done Ref…..
Bolton did have one more chance before the break though. Another silly foul by Rovers gave Bolton a free kick down the right hand flank. The swerving left foot strike was tipped over by Robinson for a corner…..
Half Time 1-0 Rovers.
No changed were made, however the scoreboard almost changed within minutes of the restart. A mistimed clearance found an open El Hadji Diouf, 12 yards out. His sweetly struck volley was cleared off the line by a reflex header…Unlucky Diouf. Blackburn continued to threaten the Bolton goal, but the final touch just was not there.
Against the run of play, Bolton almost stole an equaliser. Jay Lloyd Samuel found himself unmarked out wide on the left flank. A perfectly timed cross found the unmarked Gardner, however Ricardo could only send his header over the net.
Blackburn though looked the more dangerous and the following 10 minutes provided chance after chance. Brett Emerton took on his man out wide, splitting the defence, and finding Dunn with a neat pass. Dunny then placed the most delicate of through balls for Franco Di Santo. After a neat first touch, only a reflex save by Jussi Jaaskaleinan prevented the Argentinian from scoring. From the following corner, Nelsens header was cleared off the line by McCann, and Nzonzi blasted over from 10 yards.
Blackburn made the second change of the night, Benni McCarthy for Franco Di Santo. Both were given a loud reception and applause from the travelling fans.
Once again, against the run of play, Bolton almost found themselves an equaliser. Blackburn could not clear from a corner, the ball landing at the feet of the dangerous Matt Taylor. His 25 yard strike was brilliantly saved by Robinson, who seemed determined to keep his second clean sheet of the season.
With 15 minutes to go, one of the most comical moments of the season ensured Rovers claimed the 3 points, and bragging rights….
A swift counter by Rovers found Emerton with the ball, just inside his own half. Searching for Roberts on the opposing flank, Emertons cross found Ricketts, who attempted to head the ball back to Jussi. To Ricketts shock, Jussi has rushed of his line to claim the ball which was outside the box. Ricketts tame header from 25 yards rolled into the back of the empty net….2-0 Rovers!!!
It was almost made 3-0 only minutes later, however, Jussi produced a brilliant finger tip save to deny Brett Emerton, after he danced his way into the box, past his marker, unleashing a curling low effort to the far post.
David Dunn made way for Vince Grella with 5 minutes to go.
A long ball over the top almost gave Rovers fans a nervous finish, Klasnic picked up the ball, rounded Robinson, but his shot was cleared of the line by Lars Jacobsen. Blackburn wanted the final say, and Roberts was denied the chance to close of the game. A neat through ball by Benni found Roberts, who was incorrectly ruled offside….
However, Rovers were not to be denied, breaking the away drought and further entrenching the club as the Kings of Lancashire!!!!
Paul Robinson 8
A few fantastic saves from Robbo. Only error was a mistimed leap from a Bolton corner…but lets not dwell on that…
Ryan Nelsen 7
Kept the line in shape, and kept Elmander under control.
Chris Samba 7
Nice and tight, a few important headers
Pascal Chimbonda 8
Very tight in defence, shut down the flank, and was brilliant on the counter. Looked extremely confident on the ball, and really showed us what he is capable of
Picked up a knock, lets hope he is fine
Steven Nzonzi 7
Shut down Bolton in the middle of the pitch, faded in and out of the match, however, he was there when he was needed.
David Dunn 9
Another goal for the local boy, and the faithful led the chant once again. Great performance from Dunny, great passing game, worked hard in the middle of the pitch
A couple of neat crosses by Diouf, but he really didnt get involved as much as he should of
Brett Emerton 9
Great game from Emo. Good to see him at his dashing best. Unlucky not to get a goal, but surely he gets an assist 😀
Franco Di Santo 8.5
The best we have seen him all season. However, he should of finished the one on one opportunity. Important stage of the match, fortunately it didnt come back to haunt us.
Jason Roberts 9
Great game from the big man. Held the ball up very well, setting up Dunn for the first. Worked hard, and didnt go to ground too easy!
Lars Jacobsen 7.5
Probably his best game of the season. Forced his man out wide, made an extremely important intervention late on in the game. Much better Lars
A joy to watch. Always looks dangerous, you could see he really wanted a goal out there.
Good for the man to be back out there. A few nice passes
Well done to Neil McDonald. The game plan was set, and carried out. Made a positive change when replacing a tired Franco with Benni. Others might of decided to shut the game down, however he felt we needed a second. Congrats!