Infront of a packed out Britannia Stadium, Blackburn made the trip to Stoke City, with the club paying for 37 coaches of Rovers fans to help fill up the 3000 allocated tickets, and what an atmosphere it created. BOth teams were desperate for a win, Stoke attempting to secure their Premier League future with 5 games to spare, whilst Blackburn attempting to claw their way out of the relegation dogfight.
A nervous start for both teams, a deflected shot from Whelan caused early problems, whilst Rory Delaps massive throw ins where nullified by the presence of Nelsen. Ricardo FUller and Etherington were working well in tandem up front, running of each other, splitting the Rovers wingers. THe same couldnt be said about Rovers, with Benni Mc and Diouf unable to create any pressure or clear chances on the Stoke goal.
Rovers best chance of the half was almost a blunder by former Rovers Target Faye. A long ball over the top split the Stoke central defenders, with an on rushing Sorensen managing to nab the ball after Faye looked like heading into his own net. Rovers possessed minimal attacking flair in the first half, with a flash of class between Benni and Gamst, whose drive was deflected by the central defence, the only real shot on goals.
Stoke were appealing for penalties on the other side of the paddock, with Fuller and Etherington both going down in 50-50 challenges. Howard Webb was up to the task though, waving play on on both occasions.
Both teams came out in similar fashion after the break, with Stoke pushing on through Etherington and Fuller, both playing either side of Beattie. Rovers on the other hand, persisted with route 1 football, skipping the midfield all together. McCarthy made way for Carlos Villanueva, who immediately showed us what he is capable of, skipping past 3 markers, however he was unable to further his run, with a swarm of Stoke players surrounding him.
Rovers then paid for poor marking around the box. The ball was given away, and a neat little cross was flicked on by Beattie to Liam Lawrence, who easily turned Gael Givet, blasting the ball in the back of the net. Robinson got a firm hand to it, but was unable to prevent the goal. 1-0 Stoke.
Rovers pushed Samba up front, Dunn came on for Mokoena, however Rovers showed little if any attacking threat, the game fizzed out, Stoke almost assured the Premier League football, whilst the travelling Rovers Army where left to ponder what was to be…..
Paul Robinson 6.5
Would be dissapointed conceding the goal. Got a firm hand on it, but couldnt prevent it from going in
Ryan Nelsen 8
Led by example, got stuck in, was never beaten by Beattie or Fuller
Chris Samba 7
Solid game from Samba, nothing special, but nothing silly
Andre Oijer 6.5
The Dutchman tried to push on, with no luck. Nullified Etherington on the flank
Gael Givet 6
At fault for the goal. Real sloppy marking on Lawrence, who skipped past him with ease.
Aaron Mokoena 6.5
Ran, chased and tackled, did his best, but as always, passing not up to anyones standards
Steven Warnock 6
No real effect on the game.
Keith Andrews 6
Same as Warnock, midfield never really got involved
EL Hadji Diouf 5
Poor game from Diouf. Lost the ball on almost every occasion, failed to deliver from set pieces, went down to easy on several occasions
Morten Gamst Pedersen 6.5
Bit of creativity in the first half, but ultimately dissapeared in the second, I dont recall him at all in the second to be honest
Benni McCarthy 6.5
Difficult playing up their on your own, blasted a difficult volley over the goals, but apart from that, not as involved as we would of liked
Tried to create, a few darting runs, but nobody really was working of him
No time to impress
Yes, we are getting desperate, but surely, we can attack? Long ball after long ball, and to Benni Mc, simply is not going to work. SPin some magic Sam before its too late!!!
Credit to Mr Pulis. WHo would of said that Stoke would almost be assured of Premiership Survival with 5 games to go. He has performed wonders, getting the best out of his players, well done