It was a different weekend but the same story as last time out as Rovers were again raining in the shots but failing to find the net enough as Sunderland took their two real chances to take all three points on a sunny day in the North East.
The first incident of the game actually saw Rovers have the ball in the net but the goal was ruled out (extremely harshly) for a push on the keeper. Roberts was the man who had nodded in from close range but the Sunderland keeper Martin Fulop was ‘pushed’ by Chris Samba. In truth Fulop had missed a punch and Samba had nothing wrong but it was one of those annoying incidents where the keeper gets too much protection.
Sadly shortly after this, Franco Di Santo, who had some awesome touches of the ball pulled up with an injury and was replaced by fellow new boy Nikola Kalinic. A sad blow as Di Santo was looking handy.
Rovers dominated the first half hour and deservedly took the lead from their umpteenth corner of the game when Pedersen whipped the ball in, the ball fell to the feet of Gael Givet on the edge of the area and he lashed the ball home through a crowded box. One to the good and looking good.
Just after this Sunderland were roused and started to press but didn’t really threaten too much until they actually levelled. A skillfull ball by Keiron Richardson got through to Jones after Chris Samba and big Kenwyne had a march on Robinson and lifted the ball over to tap into an empty net.
Half time saw another problem as captain Ryan Nelsen was injured again and had to be taken off as a precaution. Martin Olsson was his replacement with Givet moving to centre back as you would expect.
The second half was the blood and thunder affair that the first had been as well with Steven N’Zonzi and Keith Andrews trading heavy tackles with Lee Catermole and Cana in the centre of the park. Rovers however were the ones making the chances. A wayward ball into the Sunderland area somehow was spilled by Fulop and the ball somehow got scewed over the bar by Nikola Kalinic.
Just as things were looking to settle – Sunderland took the lead with the best move of the match. A neat it of team passing had Richardson racing down the right and his pin point cross was headed home by Kenwyne Jones for his second of the game. Robinson didn’t stand a chance. Rovers didn’t deserve to be losing but just last week against Man City – they were.
Rovers almost responded immediately but Steven N’Zonzi looping header was ruled out as Chris Samba was blocking the goalkeeper. I’ve seen them disallowed and I have seen them given. Either way it was destined not to be our day again.
And just to rub salt into the wounds right at the death Rovers had a glorious chance to equalise when the ball broke to debutant Nikola Kalinic in the centre of the area for the fairtale moment and a tame effort was easily gathered. Chance gone and match over.
Again, I must stress that despite, by some miracle, beng on the zero points mark we were desperately unlucky again. Again we were the better side but our finishing let us down again. Even the Croatian lad Kalinic had a couple of really tame efforts when he could of done much better. It is not the creation of chances that is the problem as many people thought it would be, its finding the killer touch.
If we could finish off the chances that we make we would be a top six side by now – Sam there is one major area you need to address.
Robinson – 6
In truth he had very little to do apart from pick the ball out of his net twice. Stood no chance with either goal.
Jacobsen – 7
Again looked solid and put in some good runs down the right. Will probably been a main stay here if he can stay fit.
Nelsen – 6
Came off injured at half time but before that looked good as usual and commanded his defence pretty well. Hope the injury isn’t too serious.
Samba – 7
Dominant in the air at both ends of the pitch and covered well for less pacy defenders but a slip cost us a goal. Had a bloody battle with Jones.
Givet – 7
Great goal and the usual assured work at left back. Moved into the centre and looked comfortable there. Warnock may be leaving but we will be fine at left back as Gael is about as good as they come.
Diouf – 5
Frustrating. His corner delivery was not as good as Mortens and he really needs to get some better crosses in. His work rate is not in doubt but how long can he keep Brett out of the side when the Aussie comes back at full fitness?
Andrews – 6
His tackling was a lot better this week and he made some good interceptions. Could do with a better range of passing though.
N’Zonzi – 8
Man of the match for Rovers. If he is going to get better and this is too early for him we have just found an absolute gem.
Pedersen – 7
Again much better than last season. He wasn’t as good as he was vs City but his long throws were threatening and he created space down the left. Could do with some free kick practice though.
Roberts – 6
Put in his usual good shift and had a perfectly good goal ruled out. Needs to stop having so many arguments with the referee though!
Di Santo – N/A
Shame he came off injured after ten minutes as he looks great on the ball. He’ll be back though and we’ll be better off for it.
Kalinic – 6
Mixed. Some very impressive work with the ball and fougt like a trooper for the cause. Showed his aerial dominance as well. However, his shooting was below par – at least three chances he had he should of buried. I am sure he will be good as he looks class but I was disappointed not to see him score.
Olsson – 5
Some very poor passing and could of offered more of a threat going forward. Its annoying because its obvious he can be quite good if he applied himself well.
Couple of poor free kicks mixed in with some good turns. Will expect more for a player of his calibre though.