Well who can honestly say they saw that coming?
Everything heading into tonight’s game indicated a routine Newcastle victory. Rovers heading in were borderline awful on the road and Newcastle were fresh off a cracking win at the Emirates at the weekend and lying fifth in the table.
But watching the opening moments of the game you would have been forgiven for wondering who was who? Had the teams swapped shirts prior to kick off as opposed to after the final whistle?
For all the flak he gets, it must be made clear that for all his faults, Big Sam Allardyce got the trip to Newcastle absolutely BANG on.
Rovers lined up in an unfamiliar 3-5-1-1 formation with Samba, Nelsen and Givet operating as a back three and Chimbonda and Givet doing the wing backs roles. If the line up didn’t look confidence instilling it was only due to the sheer number of defenders in the line up.
The midfield three of Jones, Pedersen and Emerton were employed to cut off the supply line to in form Andy Carroll and to combat the dynamic midfield of Newcastle, primarily Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. The attacking intent was to counter attack.
In the first half, Rovers played more or less the perfect away game (god it has been a while since we have said that) and came at Newcastle with purpose and took an early lead through Morten Gamst Pedersen.
Newcastle new boy Tiote faffed around like nobodies business in his own area with the ball, was robbed by Aussie convict Brett Emerton and MGP lashed a great effort into the far corner.
The rest of the first half was played out in relative comfort by Blackburn as they contained Newcastle well, were very disciplined and stayed strong. It was only in the second half where the sucker punch would strike.
Only minutes after I spoke to VBer Rover23 to comment on how well it was going, the jinx struck and didn’t I hear about it. Slack marking and a severe lapse in concentration gifted Andy Carroll a leveller and Chris Samba, who was otherwise excellent, was the chief culprit.
It was a big blow for the Blue and White Army, who have got a bit of a reputation this season for throwing points away. Lightning striking again? Enter Jason Roberts, a man on a mission.
Whatever has fired up J-Rob as much as this, whoever it is, just keep doing it. Roberts was a raging bull of a player and wreaked havoc in the Geordie defence by doing what he does best… using his strength to his advantage.
Roberts is massively out to prove a point, his lack of goal celebration proves that much, but that point is driving to play as well for Rovers as he has ever done.
His rampage for the goal and his sheer determination created an opening and his finish was very ‘un-Roberts’ like. He deserved the winner for his endeavour since replacing Kalinic early in the second half. I would even go as far to say that a Jason Roberts playing like he has done in the last two games would never have seen him up for sale. He would be a dead cert for a starting berth.
Rovers were full value for the win in the end, they normally don’t travel well but St James’ Park again proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Ewood boys.
Sadly the main talking point won’t be Roberts or Blackburns fully deserved victory but again the childish behaviour of one Joey Barton who will surely be punished by the FA after his thuggish punch to the stomach of Morten Pedersen in the second half after Junior Hoilett’s rubbish dive.
Barton retaliated to Morten brushing shoulders with him by fisting the Norwegian in the stomach… to make matters worse he then proceeded to lie about his actions five minutes later.
Good night sweet prince, enjoy your 0 points.
Robbo – 7
Another faultless display from England best goalkeeper.
I think you have his mobile number Fabio.
Michel Salgado – 8
Man of the Match.
Ryan Nelsen – 6
Steady as she goes for the New Zealander.
Actually benefited from being in a 3 man defence.
Chris Samba – 7
Apart from the Carroll goal which he was at fault for had a commanding game.
The battle with the Newcastle hitman was an absolute ding dong of a fight which was just about won by our guy.
Gael Givet – 6
Did nothing especially stand out but was a willing worker and kept it simple at the back.
Mr six out of ten.
Pascal Chimbonda – 7
Restored to the starting line up and provided no reason for him not to be considered again.
Genuine width was offered when needed and looks cultured on the ball. Could do with being a bit more rigid at times but only a minor criticism.
Morten Pedersen – 7
Great goal and set piece delivery was a constant source of problems for those wearing Black and White stripes.
Enjoyed a moral victory over Joey ‘Haymaker’ Barton.
Phil Jones – 7
Another disciplined, dominant and forceful display from the lad of the moment.
Offered little going forward but was a beast in front of the defence.
Brett Emerton – 6
Did his job. Tried to get forward when he could but at times struggled to make a serious impact.
Storming work rate and held things together in midfield at times.
Junior Hoilett – 7
Could be a cracking prospect if the end product matched the industry and pace he can display.
Reminds me of a young Shaun Wright Phillips. Which is a good and a bad thing.
Niko Kalinic – 6
Hard work for the Croatian but there were glimpses of confidence restored after a few weeks off to recharge the batteries.
No real chances to score but a good bit of link play with Hoilett was promising.
David Dunn – 5
Bought on to shore things up and to do his usual and was functional.
Ten minute cameo.
Jason Roberts – 7
Annoyed as hell at Sam Allardyce and is using that to show him he means business.
This Jason Roberts is only a boon for Blackburn Rovers. Has scored the decisive goals in 2-1 victories twice in four days.
Round of applause for you Big Sam.