Date: 9th February 2009 at 4:47pm
Written by:

Giving his thoughts on the game and Sasman a run for his match report prowess against Villa on Saturday is Adrian.

Here is the new feature for Vital Blackburn – Fans View.

Off the back of the midweek F.A Cup triumph, Rovers faced a tough test back in league action, entertaining Martin O`Neill`s Aston Villa at Ewood Park.

The expected normal faces were restored to the starting line up, the only real surprise El Hadji Diouf had to settle for a place on the bench, with David Dunn given the role on the left side of midfield. Roque Santa Cruz only made the bench after Benni McCarthy`s midweek cup heroics.

Villa started strong and had a corner within the first 3 minutes after Emile Heskeys strike was deflected wide, but he missed with a free header from the resulting corner.

Quarter of an hour in Rovers first threatened with David Dunn who tried rolling back the months with a curling left foot effort, Rovers would have hoped for a carbon copy of his goal at Everton in the season opener, but he didn`t quite get the required connection and the save was comfortable for Brad Friedel. Villa then had the ball in the back of the net, Heskey netted from a Gareth Barry free kick but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Paul Robinson.

Followed by this was Rovers best spell, but failed to make anything of it and were hit by Villa on 27 minutes, James Milner picked up a short corner and fired a terrific left foot strike beyond Robinson, cracking strike but all the same Rovers should have been more alert to the short corner.

Minutes before half time Villa again had the ball in the Rovers net, only for it to be again ruled out after Agbonlahor crept offside before striking left footed past Robinson.

On the stroke of half time again Agbonlahor went through but was denied by Robinson and Heskey was unable to convert the rebound with Rovers defending well in their own area.

Half Time and the general feeling was that changes were needed, El Hadj Diouf and Tugay replaced the ineffectual David Dunn and Keith Andrews.

Again Villa started strongly, Agbonlahor causing all the problems again picking out Heskey who was denied by a header from under his own bar by Andre Ooijer.

Rovers pressed and were denied a series of penalty shouts but to be fair, there were no clear cut penalty appeals and Rovers nearly paid for pushing forward as Villa broke Ashley Young crossed, Agbonlahor failed to connect with a header, Milner arrived and steadied himself at the back post but was unable to find the target, Rovers were still in this and the game was still up for grabs.

In the closing stages Rovers pushed forward, and as Villa failed to clear Roque Santa Cruz who had replaced the unfortunate Jason Roberts hit a shot from the edge of the box only for it to go just wide. As Rovers again pushed for an equaliser and Villa played on the counter but still with an element of control, a series of Villa corners lead to a bad pass inside from Stephen Warnock, the ever lively Agbonlahor latched on to the loose ball and smashed one home with a little help from Nelsens foot on the way, game over.

My view is pretty much the same as Sam, Villa were too good for us, their game plan is effective and with players like Agbonlahor, Barry, Heskey, Milner and Young, will nearly always produce good results. Not just the obvious players but all over the pitch Villa seem top class at the moment and its hard to see past them edging into the top 4.

On the other hand we need to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down, we have thrown away points through poor finishing in games we should have won but we cant look back now, we must look forward and battle for everything, because we have one hell of a battle to keep ourselves in this division and it is imperative we maintain our top flight status.

Player Ratings

Paul Robinson – 7
Couldn`t do anything again about the goals, kicking always consistent.

Andre Ooijer – 6
Not the best day for the Dutchman, did ok in the first half but as Rovers committed struggled to deal with Villas pace on the counter.

Chris Samba – 7
A decent game, had the tough task of marking Agbonlahor and coped quite well considering how fast he is.

Ryan Nelsen – 7
See above.

Stephen Warnock – 6
Some good tackles but disappointing going forward, poor pass for the second.

David Dunn – 5
Didn`t get going at all, lost possession to easily, replaced at the break.

Vince Grella – 7
Again one of the better performers, has a good battling spirit but can knock the ball around too.

Keith Andrews – 5
Subject to a lot of unfair criticism but has continued to play well under Allardyce. Not this time though and struggled in the middle of the park, also replaced at the break.

Morten Gamst Pedersen – 6
Started well but faded, gave the ball away a bit needlessly at times.

Benni McCarthy – 6
Tried to get it going but wasn`t at his best, and tried to many fancy flicks which didn`t pay off on the day.

Jason Roberts – 7
Unlucky to be replaced in my opinion, always runs his socks off and held the ball up well against Zat Knight.

Tugay – 6
Again tried to get it going but hit too many astray passes than we are used to seeing from him.

El Hadj Diouf – 7
Clever on and off the ball it`s a shame we couldn`t get him more involved, showed one particularly nice dribble and should prove a quality but from Big Sam.

Not much time to have an impact, but hit one shot to try and test Friedel.

Next Week
I am inviting Heldacaite to bless us with Man United away – good luck mate!!!


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