Saturday, 6 October 2012

Blackburn Rovers 0 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 - Npower Championship

Saturday 6th October 2012, at Ewood Park
Npower Championship
Blackburn Rovers (0) 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers (0) 1
Bakary Sako 78
Admission £17, Programme £3, Attendance 17,034
Blackburn Rovers
Paul Robinson, Bradley Orr, Martin Olsson, Gaël Givet, 
Scott Dann, Mauro Formica (Fábio Nunes 46 minutes),
Jason Lowe (Dickson Etuhu 72 minutes), Grant Hanley,
Danny Murphy, Jordan Rhodes, Colin Kazim-Richards:
Unused Subs:
Jake Kean, David Dunn, Morton Gamst Pedersen,
Nuno Gomes, Ruben Rochina
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Carl Ikeme, Roger Johnson, Richard Stearman (Anthony Forde 53 minutes), Christophe Berra, Kevin Foley, Karl Henry, Stephen Ward, David Davis (Ronald Zubar, 61), Tongo Hamed Doumbia,
Bakary Sako, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake (Danny Batth, 87 minutes)
Unused Subs:
Aaron McCarey, Georg Margreitter, Eggert Jonsson, Frank Nouble
Wherein, 5th placed Rovers hosted 6th placed Wolves.
Both teams started the day on 16 points as the game kicked off in front of Ewood Park's highest crowd of the season.
But it wasn't the league standings that were responsible for so many people turning up at the game, or even the ranks of THE66POW thrill seekers crew swelling the ranks in the Riverside Stand.
Today was Blackburn's first home game, since the hugely and universal unpopular manager Steve Kean had parted company with the club.
A time for rejoicing for the home fans then, given how long they've been campaigning to get rid of Kean.
Hmm, apparently not.
It seems that there are still factions of the crowd who are still disgruntled and finding it hard to break the habit of booing their own team when things aren't going their way.
Wolves manager Stale Solbakken, had to reshuffle his pack and overcome a number of absentees from his preferred starting line up this afternoon, due to a variety of reasons. And several of his team had to play out of position too. 
But Solbakken's decision to play a 4-4-1-1 system paid dividends and when the final whistle sounded, he charged down the touchline to celebrate with the Wanderers fans who had travelled up to Lancashire.
The visitors nearly took the lead when Bakary Sako forced a save out the Rovers keeper Paul Robinson, who incidentally, was making his 150th League appearance for the Ewood Park side.
Blackburn's Jordan Rhodes went down in the area under a challenge from Richard Stearman.
The referee had a better view of it than me and waved it away, but I reckon the home side could feel justifiably aggrieved that they didn't get a spot kick for that one.
On 19 minutes, with the home side finding it difficult to get going, Wolves almost went in front, when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake headed against the upright from close range, with Rovers looking hopelessly exposed at the back.
The Rovers fans weren't happy that their team seemed to be reluctant to attack and were playing defensively at home and Ebanks-Blake's effort prompted the first chorus of booing, from a small, but very vocal, section of the crowd.
Sleeping on the job? Dock his wages!
From where I was sitting, you could clearly hear small pockets of  fans sitting in both the Riverside Stand and the Darwen End, arguing amongst themselves over what constituted proper support for the club.
"They're playing for another ****ing draw, just like they did at Forest in the week, aren't they!?" one irate Rovers fan snarled at me.
I merely shrugged my shoulders by way of a response and made a mental note to look for somewhere else to sit at half time.
Though, to give 'irate Rovers fan' his due, adopting a defensive 3-5-2, or possibly even 5-3-2 formation at times, in a home game, doesn't exactly suggest that caretaker manager Eric Black had given his team instructions to go out and attack non stop for 90 minutes.
But lets not forget either, that Ebanks-Blake didn't actually score and Rovers could've already been one up from the spot if the referee would've called things differently.
But I barely have the inclination to get involved in my own arguments these days, let alone allow myself to become embroiled in other peoples politics and battles.
Obviously, a lot of the Ewood Park crowd weren't completely immersed in all of the negativity and moaning. But to the ones that are, I say; piss off and take a chill pill, or smoke a joint at half time or something.
To be frank, if your blood pressure is soaring so high, just relax (don't do it!).
And please don't spray your spittle all over me while you're having a rant.
For the record:
Unwanted manager gone? Check.
Team in a play off place and challenging for promotion? Check.
Plenty of other teams in far more of the brown sticky stuff than Blackburn really are? Check.
Me thinks a lot of Rovers fans either have very short memories, or they probably weren't even Blackburn fans prior to their recent heyday, when Jack Walker's millions paved the way to success.
The first half finished goalless and was a fairly even affair (though Blackburn possibly just shaded it possession wise), with both sides playing a fairly guarded game and attacking sporadically, rather than committing too many men forward.
There was a lot of action around both penalty areas, but nothing very much actually going on in and around either goal mouth.
As the referee's whistle heralded half time, the home fans displeasure was becoming more audible.
But without Steve Kean to chastise, they seemed to be a bit confused as to whom they should be venting their anger towards.
As the teams left the field of play after 45 minutes, my very grumpy and thankfully very temporary neighbour muttered: "Well then, I reckon you'll be one of the ones who's come back now Kean's gone. Well hard luck it's still going to be crap"
I said to him in hushed tones "Actually, I'm a Wolves fan and I'm moving down that end for the second half because that's where all the goals are going to be scored"
It shut up him for the brief moment that I needed to merge into the crowd heading down the stairs and I made good my escape from his persistent earache.
For the record, I am not a Wolves fan.
I was here in a strictly neutral capacity.
And as for being a returning Rovers fan who's been boycotting them while Steve Kean was in charge.
Get real!
I've only ever been to Ewood Park twice before in my life.
The last time was in 2002, when Denis Bergkamp scored twice in a 3-2 win for Arsenal ... and I'd only gone up their that night to keep my mate Keith from Worksop company, when he had a spare ticket going.
Prior to that, I was there in November 1977, when a mate from school's dad gave me a lift, to the Blackburn v Mansfield Town game.
It was one of the many games that the Stags lost during their one and only season in the old Second Division (currently known as the npower Championship).
I was here today because ... I fancied a change of scenery.
I texted my travelling entourage "Loads of empty seats straight in line with the Darwen End penalty area" and we were soon all reunited and eagerly awaiting 'all the goals'.
Rovers appealed for another penalty early in the second half, but this one was slightly more fanciful than their first half claim.
The home side actually looked to be getting on top for a while, but the Wolverhampton defence was repelling most of what Eric Black's side could chuck at them, before the Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme was troubled unduly.
But after absorbing everything Blackburn could muster, Wolves hit the home side on the counter and were unlucky not to go in front, when Bakary Sako picked out Anthony Forde with a well weighted through ball, which he knocked narrowly wide.
On 78 minutes, Rovers only partially cleared a right wing corner, the ball fell to Bakary Sako just outside the box, who took a touch to make himself a yard of space and fired the ball into the back of the Rovers net.
"Who's meant to be marking their number ten!?"

Blackburn needed to get back in the game immediately, but when Colin Kazim-Richards missed from close range and failed to capitalise on a mix up between Christophe Berra and Carl Ikeme, it looked as if the writing was already on the wall and a few Rovers fans started to drift away home.
With the bulk of their team committed to joining the attack with time running out, Blackburn left themselves open to being hit on the counter attack ... and they very nearly were, right at the death, when Anthony Forde burst forward towards the Rovers goal, but fired the ball wide of the target with just Paul Robinson to beat, when Ronald Zubar, who had also made a run forward, was possibly better placed to score.
Full time: Blackburn Rovers 0 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Inevitably, as the Wolves away support celebrated, a chorus of boos rang out from the home fans.
Some were aiming their disdain at their team, others at Eric Black's tactics and, no doubt, plenty of people were blaming the referee, who might have given them a penalty in the first half.
And I hope a few of them were giving the imbecile steward some grief who tried stopping me from taking a photograph of the full time scoreboard ... better luck next time sucker!
Wolves leapfrogged Rovers in the table on the back of today's result and climbed up to third, while Blackburn slipped four places to 9th.
And in my completely unbiased an non-affiliated opinion, both teams probably got what they deserved today.
It's still all very tight in Championship though, where only three points separate 3rd place from 11th.
Look's like being an intriguing season in the making, for those that can last the pace.