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Rovers 0 Newcastle 3


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I’d love to find something positive to post about Sunday’s game against Newcastle, however like a lot of supporters this morning I feel depressed and angry by another failure by the team to win a game that for 60 minutes was there for the taking.

Tagged by the media, as the premier league bully boy, Rovers couldn’t even get that right against Newcastle. Only one yellow card compared to Newcastle’s 5 yellows and 1 red.

For the first hour both teams huffed and puffed up and down the park, with neither team taking control of the game. The statistics would indicate that Rovers had 24 attempts on goal whilst Newcastle had 4. The big difference and more telling of those stats is that 3 of Newcastle’s attempts hit the back of the net.

I suspect it was written in the stars that Alan Shearer, making his final competitive appearance at Ewood, (if he does retire at the end of the season) would break his duck of not scoring for 18 games and that Micheal Owen would open his account for the barcodes.

Both world class strikers, seem to score on a regular basis when they play against Rovers and there lies the difference between both teams.

Rovers have the ability to defend in depth and I suspect on current form there will be an abundance of goal less draws this season, however once they go behind they don’t have a player capable of finding the back of the net from open play.

Rovers have continued this season where they left off last season, playing with a sole striker up front so it’s no surprise that they haven’t scored since the first home game of the season. With a total of approximately 380 minutes since they scored, it’s no surprise that attendance for the game was less than 21,000.

Rovers: Friedel, Neill, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Gresko (Jansen 76), Savage, Mokoena (Tugay 67), Reid, Pedersen, Bentley (Kuqi 67), Bellamy.

Subs Not Used: Emerton, Enckelman.

Booked: Neill.

Newcastle: Given, Carr, Boumsong, Taylor, Babayaro, Faye, Bowyer, Clark, N'Zogbia, Shearer (Bramble 74), Owen.

Subs Not Used: Elliott, Harper, O'Brien, Brittain.

Sent Off: Taylor (72).

Booked: Clark, Boumsong, Given, Taylor, Babayaro.

Goals: Shearer 62, Owen 66, N'Zogbia 85.

Att: 20,725

Ref: M Riley

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Scotty's Match Report

Hughes picked the wrong team and the worrying thing is that I'm not sure he knows what his best team is. There's nothing wrong with 4-5-1 providing we play the right players in the right positions - it can be an extremely attacking formation when played right. However, we played it all wrong today.

For an hour not much happened. Two bad teams scrapped about in midfield, mis-placing passes all over the place, and creating little or nothing in front of goal. We had a couple of free-kicks that went close-ish, they didn't even have that. Then Newcastle scored.

I haven't seen the incident on TV yet, but it looked a harsh call to give Newcastle a free-kick on the edge of the area. Once it was given though the whole ground knew what was coming - a Shearer piledriver. No-one blocked it and in it went. One-nil to Newcastle with what was probably their first shot on goal.

Five minutes later they scored again. A cross from their left was met by a totally unmarked Owen who doesn't miss those. Terrible defending by us - Christmas Day for the Toon Army.

To be fair to us we showed a bit of character and tried to get back in the game, but it wasn't to be. Kuqi and Tuigay, shortly followed by Jansen, came off the bench and we created a couple of chances, notably one awful miss by Kuqi, but we didn't do enough. Even after Newcastle had a man sent off they managed to extend their lead on the break when N'Zogbia beat Friedel cleverly.

A thoroughly miserable afternoon all round really.

It's a daft thing to say when we've been beaten 3-0 but we defended quite well really. Shearer and Owen hardly had a kick all game but, like the quality strikers they are, they took their one chance expertly. I think it was Zurab who lost Owen for his goal, and Neill managed to get booked within two minutes for a daft challenge but, other than that, they didn't do badly at all.

All our problems were at the other end. Reid isn't a right winger. Emerton is better. Yes, I said Emerton is better. Emerton is far from great, but he offers a much bigger threat than Reid will ever do. Pedersen didn't do enough and we really need him to step up to the plate this season. He's got the talent but he fails to show it too often for me.

Savage played well in midfield, as did Mokoena, but neither contributed much going forward. Bentley was disappointing. He impressed me with his cameo at Bolton and I was expecting more today, but he didn't seem to have the confidence on the ball today that he showed at Bolton. I think he can play that position he played today (attacking midfielder playing off the front man), but it might also be worth trying him wide-right.

The biggest problem the team had today though was Bellamy. He's just not a lone striker. He can't hold the ball well enough and he doesn't battle with defenders. Obviously he's not going to win things in the air either, all of which meant that any ball played forward just came straight back. He's a willing runner and will run the channels all day, but he needs someone to play off.

It was a poor home performance today and I believe Hughes got his team wrong. We're in trouble now. Hughes needs to sort out his best team soon and hope that it performs, otherwise it's going to be a long hard season again.

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