Our beloved Blackburn Rovers claimed the local bragging rights over Burnley in a match that was as keenly contested in the stands as it was on the pitch.
Ewood Park was absolutely rocking all afternoon with the verbal jousting between the two sets of fans absolutely off the charts and the noise in Ewood Park the loudest I have ever heard it. It was an honour to be in a ground that I love but, on a normal day, a ground that has a small set of fans making the noise while others coast through the game. BUT NOT TODAY…
20,000 + Rovers fans were on top form throughout the game as this derby showed exactly what it meant to both sides with the atmosphere electric – and I include the noisy Burnley fans in this too, fair play to them.
But what could of been a comfortable stroll was made a nervous finish by a sloppy late goal and our own ability not to put more goals on the board.
It was a game that loved up to the billing as Rovers sealed the points thanks to goals from David Dunn, Franco di Santo and Pascal Chimbonda.
The win caused unbridled joy across the blue and white half of East Lancashire but it started oh so badly.
Only four mintues had elapsed when Burnley took the lead through Robbie Blake, a swift Burnley move was ended by Blake as he cut in side a day dreaming Lars Jacobsen to fire a thunderbolt home and send the away support absolutely crazy. As a man sat in the Jack Walker stand upper tier near the Darwen End I can safely say I have never seen a goal so wildly celebrated by away fans.
It was reminiscent of his goal against Manchester United earlier in the campaign and gave Paul Robinson absolutely no chance. Top strike.
The Clarets’ lead was short-lived however as Blackburn equalised in the 9th minute following a flowing move involving six Rovers players and ended by the man of the moment.
Morten Gamst Pedersen crossed the ball into the area and a nifty touch down by Franco Di Santo set up Dunny to curl home from 15 yards to send the home fans ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.
It was an open game and El-Hadji Diouf squandered a good chance six minutes later by sending his shot across the face of the goal after being set up by Steven Nzonzi.
Blackburn went ahead in the 22nd minute when Di Santo took advantage of Graham Alexander’s incredibly lazy header after Brian Jensen had been impeded by one of his own players. A long throw in by Morten Gamst Pedersen caused chaos and Alexanders header only teed up Franco Di Santo to head home unopposed for his first, richly merited, Blackburn goal. Cue more wild scenes as Dunny stormed off to celebrate with the Blackburn end at the other end of the pitch! And Di Santo was boked for going to far into the Jack Walker stand.
Blackburn stepped up the pace and Dunn worked himself into a good position in the 37th minute only to send a soft shot into Jensen’s arms. The Burnley goalkeeper then had to look alert to take a header from Samba after Dunn had swung in a free-kick from the left four minutes later.
But just as the half seemed to be getting scrappy as it reached its conclusion, rovers struck again with a cracking team move.
Keith Andrews picked out Pedersen on the left and he released Chimbonda on the overlap, the Rovers left back got away from Steven Fletcher and cut into the area before finding the corner with his effort. By this point the home fans had completely and utterly lost it, the place became unglued and yours truly was struggling to keep his voice box in check.
Burnley were anxious to get back in the game and after half time they pressed on as Rovers rested on their laurels, Fletcher dragged a shot wide of the post five minutes after the break after linking up with David Nugent.
But then play switched down the other end and Di Santo skipped away from Steven Caldwell, only for Tyrone Mears to cover well.
Whilst Burnley were going more direct, it was suprising that Rovers were in fact the more refined going forward. Dunny and Dioufy in particular looked unplayable at times when in full flow.
Burnley were getting desperate and subbed off the ineffective Nugent for the talented Chris Eagles. As the game died down slightly, the volume again cranked up in the stand with the home and away fans trading jibes in vocal fashion.
Burnley also bought off the increasingly slack Andre Bikey to add mroe guile to the attack and Brett Emerton was bought on for Rovers just after Roberts made way for the badge kissing and cleary loving it Franco Di Santo.
Despite the changes and Rovers greater use of the ball, Burnley kept pushing forward, but didnt threaten greatly until right before time and Eagles tested Robinson with a minute to go, only for the goalkeeper to push the ball around the post.
But former Manchester United man Eagles did pull a goal back in stoppage time, scoring from close range following a cross from Stephen Jordan and some shocking marking from the Rovers defence to make things super, super tense for the four minutes of injury time that remained as Ewood bit its nails.
Rovers were forced to play keep ball and Dunny was keen t get the ball in the corners, with Morten and N’Zonzi playing back up.
Rovers saw the game out despite the scare and at the end Ewood erupted and cue a massive sing along of the Black Eyed Peas ‘I Gotta Feeling’ which includes the very apt line of ‘tonight’s gonna be a good night’… it certainly is after that epic game, with a cracking crowd and a worthy winner in the Kings of East Lancashire (for now), Blackburn Rovers.
Robinson – 7
Could do nothing about either goal and was unlucky to be beaten twice.
Looked strong on crosses though and made a couple of comfortable saves.
Jacobsen – 6
Hit and miss. Was very good going forward but really needs to judge when to go all out and when to save himself and cover himself.
Looked unsure for the first ten minutes but grew in confidence when he saw the enormity of the game he was in.
Samba – 7
Won every header and looked steady on the ball, even treating us to a little bit of skill to rapturous applause!
A big game from an influential man.
Nelsen – 7
Super stuff, who is always the cog in the machine when it comes to defence. He does sufer with his lack of pace but his reading of the game is befitting of a captain.
When the game turned to a battle he is the man for it.
Chimbonda – 7
Great goal and committed to helping out Morten on the left. It may not be his prefered spot out on the wrong foot but he is making the best of it.
Will remember that goal for the rest of his life.
Diouf – 8
Has taken some stick recently but put in a barn storming effort on the right. Tricks and turns kept Rovers ticking over and supplied vital links between midfield and attack.
This is Diouf at his nuisance best.
Andrews – 7
First half he was Championship fodder, second half he was a Premier League player. He was too light in the tackle for the first half hour but must have got a beating because in the second half he was putting in blocks and tackles as if his life depended on it.
I just wish he had the confidence to speed play up with a pass.
N’Zonzi – 6
The game passed him by somewhat but he was full of running and was determined not to let the biggest game o his life go without a fight.
Some steady passing and covering but nothing too spectacular.
Morten Gamst Pedersen – 7
Caused trouble with his throws and was similar to Keith Andrews in that he got better after the break.
Did cause some problems for Burnley in the air and could of wrapped it up at the end.
David Dunn – 10
Absolutely, completely, stupidly fantastic.
Was the best player on the pitch by far.
Franco Di Santo – 8
Excellent running and a touch of class up front to bring others into the game. Left to a standing ovation after 70 minutes.
He really needed to score to get going properly and he scored a deserved gift.
Roberts – 6
Fought, kicked and screamed his way through his stint in the match. Didnt do a great deal but the passion was there.
Was willng to take defenders on and created some good openings. Will be pushing Diouf hard for the spot on the right.
Token appearance for a man that should feel hard done by to be left on the bench.
Was incredible and I feel sorry for anybody that couldn’t witness it. Was as good as any derby in Britain.