It was simply a case of job done for Rovers last night. The performance was efficent and dominant if lacking in the final third. Blyth emerged with a ton of credit and rightly as they acquittedthemsleves full bloodedly through out but the Premierhsip edge told in the end.
Sam Allardyce had changed the whole team prior to kick off with what was effectively a second strng takig to the pitch. There were several recognisable players such as Matt Derbyshire and Vince Grella on display however. The locals were clearly up for it as they turned out for a sell out game.
Blyth has a brief opening burst in the first two mins, the pedigree of the Premier League fringe players started to show as the first half progressed.
Left winger Keith Treacy fired in a warning shot into the Blyth goalmouth in the sixth minute and Carlos Villanueva got his aim ready with a couple of efforts from distance. You could tell straight away that Carlos was up for it and ready to show Sam what he could be missing out on. In the 12th minute the South American hit a drive that the Blyth keeper Bell had to watch carefully as Matt Derbyshire was waiting in the wings as usual for the Michael Owen style predator strike.
Blyth for all there effort didn’t reallget into Blackburn half much in the first half.
Rovers ploughed on and Derbyshire had the ball in the net via a defender but was deemed offside, replays proved this to be the correct decision marginally. Vince Grella had a shot blocked from a left foot volley. For all the pressure – Rovers and Blyth were level at half time, advantage the minnows.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first. Villanueva made himself some space and curled a low shot a foot wide of the goal from outside the box. Blyth did start to apply a bit of pressure after this but couldn’t really notch a clear opening.
Then as the hour approached – a bit of magic. rovers were awarded a free kick on the left hand side of the area and Villanueva stood up to dispatch it with keeper given no chance. Plenty of whip on the ball and a clean strike. It was the Chilen player of the year at his best.
His reward? Being substituted for Jason Roberts a minute later! Keith Andrews also replaced the shattered Vince Grella and somehow missed a sitter with his first touch.
After the goal though Rovers sat back to protect what they had. Blyth mounted a brave grandstand finish, they twice went close to an equaliser near the end. Wright first fluffed a glaring opportunity and midfielder Alex Gildea also flashed a header wide from 9 yards.
It wasn’t to be for Blyth but they can take a lot of credit. Rovers were through and had avoided the banana skin.
Mark Bunn – 6
Had very little to do but what he did he did with confidence.
Danny Simpson – 7
Looked nervous in parts but did get forward to good effect. Will be better off for this game but he needs to gain some composure.
Zurab Khizanishvilli – 8
The only member of the back four that is an established Premier League player and it showed. Comfortable, assured and orgainsed – Blackburns’ most underrated player.
Aaron Mokoena – 6
Had a fair game but is NOT a centre back. Looked panicky at times.
Martin Olsson – 6
Steady but unspectacular. Warnock will not exactly be fearing having watched this. I expected more from him personally.
Alan Judge – 6
Was fine and looked confident but the final ball was lacking at times. You can see he has talent but will need to show more. Defensively he helped out well.
Vince Grella – 7
Encouraging. Did all the unfancy stuff very well and looked rock solid. Is clearly not match fit though so suffered in the second half. Sam was right to take him off.
Johann Vogel – 7
Why does Aaron Mokoena every get a game before this guy. Looks class on the ball and swapped the holding role with Grella well. Would be perfect alongside Dunn. Don’t sell him Sam.
Keith Treacy – 7
Beat his man several times and worked well with Carlos Villanueva. One that made a positive impression.
Carlos Villanueva – 8
Looked great on the ball and hit the winner. Should be used more but will need to bulk up if he is not going to get regularly kicked out of games in the Premier League. Pure class when given the right service though.
Matt Derbyshire – 5
Cannot fault him for effort and passion at all. will run his proverbials off at all times for the club he loves but I have a message for him – YOU ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TOO HARD MATTY. Concentrate on being a predator.
Jason Roberts – 6
Added guile and presence up front.
Keith Andrews – 5
Did his midfield job well but is deducted a point for that shocking miss.
Didnt really have a chance to do too much. Will be pleased to have got on though.
8 – Got it right with his team. We the game and no amount of ifs and buts can change that – thats what matters.
Was puzzling to see him take Carlos off when he did but apart from that picked a team and sent them out there with a game plan and it won us the game.
Potential first teamers for the future?
Carlos Villanueva, Keith Treacy, Johann Vogel, Vince Grella, Zurab, Matty Derbyshire.
Those who need to up there game?
Alan Judge, Martin Olsson, Aaron Mokoena, Danny Simpson
Cant really put him in either category – didn’t have a great deal to do.