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[Archived] News Article -> 2010/11 Match Report: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Rovers 3

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Wolverhampton (0) 2 – 3 (3) Blackburn Rovers
O'Hara 73, Hunt 87 Roberts 22, Emerton 38, Hoilett 45 + 1
Referee: Howard Webb Attendance: 29,009

[caption id=attachment_2345" align="alignright" width="224" caption="

Image courtesy of cn174

]Jason Roberts wins aerial battle at Wolves[/caption]

A long and turbulent season finally ended with victory, survival and huge relief for the travelling Ewood fans who were packed into angst-filled Molineux. For once, in this troubled season, the emotional roller-coaster was not being ridden by the hordes from Lancashire but their counterparts wearing the famous "old gold" colours of Wolves. A pulsating and scintillating first-half performance from the Rovers had quickly banished any thoughts of relegation as the team took a firm grip of an all-important Premier League life-line.

Steve Kean opted to stick with the formula which has served him so well in recent weeks and with no injury problems he was able to keep an unchanged side in the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Mick McCarthy recalled England international Matt Jarvis to the right-hand side of his midfield. Statistically, prior to the game, there were various scenarios with regard to who would be relegated, but the players knew that victory for either side would ensure another season of Premier League football.

[caption id=attachment_2344" align="alignright" width="218" caption="Image courtesy of cn 174]Rovers line up at kick-off[/caption]Both sides announced their intentions from the start with Jermaine Jones firing an early effort wide for the Rovers while Paul Robinson had to deal with a cross-cum-shot from Stephen Ward for the home side. Junior Hoilett then bamboozled Jody Craddock on the dead-ball line but his low cross was cut out by Wayne Hennessey.

The Rovers had made an excellent start and seemed totally devoid of nerves as they continued to press forward. The opening goal, on 22 minutes, was the result of some wonderful football on the part of the Rovers. Brett Emerton, in the old inside-left position, floated a superb cross-field pass to Hoilett, who had found space on the right of the penalty area. As two defenders converged to close him down, he quickly controlled the ball and slipped it back into the path of the oncoming Michel Salgado. The former Real Madrid star fired the ball towards goal and Jason Roberts was on hand to redirect it into the back of the net. It was an instinctive piece of finishing by Roberts which gave the Rovers a lead that they thoroughly deserved.

The Rovers began to take a stranglehold on the match and on 38 minutes they doubled their lead. Stephen Hunt fouled Steven Nzonzi virtually on the half-way line. Paul Robinson launched one his trademark free-kicks deep into the Wolves penalty area and although it was headed clear it fell invitingly to Brett Emerton, just a few yards outside of the area. The Australian international wasted no time trying to control the ball and his first-time volley flew into the back of the net.

The two-goal margin was a fair reflection of the total dominance which the Rovers enjoyed during the opening period. Jermaine Jones and Nzonzi proved an inspirational pairing in the centre of midfield as they hunted down the Wolves players, never giving them a moment to settle on the ball. The Rovers almost scored a third after Jamie O'Hara was caught in possession by Nzonzi and Jermaine Jones picked up the loose ball and fed Hoilett, who had drifted into space on the left of the penalty area. The young Canadian fired a shot towards the far post only to see Hennessey get his fingertips to the ball and divert it narrowly wide of goal. From the resultant corner, Chris Samba towered above his marker and was unfortunate to see his effort cleared by Steven Fletcher.

[caption id=attachment_2345" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="Image courtesy of cn174]Jason Roberts wins aerial battle at Wolves[/caption]As half-time approached, the home side continued to be rocked by the incessant pressure that the Rovers had put them under. However, the Rovers were almost caught out when Jarvis broke on the right and Samba was forced to move across and impede his run at goal. It earned the skipper a booking but, nonetheless, it was a timely intervention on his part.

As the first half moved into injury-time, Craddock blazed an effort over the bar and it was from the resultant goal-kick that the Rovers scored their third goal. Once again, Robinson launched a long ball deep into the opposition half and it found its way to Roberts on the edge of the "D". He, in turn, laid the ball off to Hoilett, who cut inside two defenders and then fired the ball past Hennessey.

As the Rovers left the field to a standing ovation from their fans, a cloud of despondency settled over Molineux as the home supporters faced up to the very real possibility of relegation.

With goal difference likely to play a part in deciding the fate of the home side, McCarthy shuffled his pack and introduced another striker for the second half with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake taking the place of Michael Mancienne.

As one might expect, it was Wolves who enjoyed most of the early possession in the second period as the need for a goal became increasingly imperative for McCarthy's men. However, it was the Rovers who created the first clear-cut chance of the half when another excellent cross-field pass from Emerton wasn't dealt with by Kevin Foley. The ball fell to Roberts and with the goal at his mercy he attempted to curl it inside the far post. Unfortunately the shot seemed under-hit which gave Hennessey the opportunity to make a fine save. At 4-0 it's doubtful that Wolves would have recovered, but on such narrow margins are fortunes won and lost in football.

The narrow escape seemed to incentivise the home side to redouble their efforts, and news from other grounds underlined the need for Wolves to get on the scoresheet. With a commanding lead, the Rovers settled for a slightly more defensive approach in the second period as Wolves poured forward with increasing desperation. Once again, the hand of fate intervened on behalf of Wolves when Jermaine Jones was harshly penalised for a foul on Hunt. Jones was vehement in his protests that he had won the ball, but Howard Webb, who in fairness had an excellent match, thought otherwise. As the players lined up at the far post, expecting Hunt to float the ball in that direction, O'Hara dropped off the line and the Irishman simply played the ball for the Tottenham loanee to turn and fire the ball past a startled defence into the corner of the net. It was a well-worked free-kick that caught the Rovers defence completely flat-footed.

Within minutes, Wolves might have scored a second, but Robinson pulled off a superb save to turn a Fletcher header over the bar.

[caption id=attachment_2383" align="alignright" width="226" caption="Image courtesy of cn174]Salgado applauds fans at Wolves[/caption]As the game moved into its final stages, news filtered through that Birmingham had equalised at White Hart Lane while Wigan had taken the lead in the Potteries against Stoke. Wolves, once again, found themselves in the dreaded relegation places. However, another goal would lift them above Birmingham and with the home crowd chanting "one more goal" Hunt duly delivered. With three minutes remaining, Wolves saved their Premier League lives with a goal that was straight out of the Rovers' own play-book. Hennessey launched the ball deep into the Rovers half and the ball found its way to Hunt on the left of the penalty area. In an instant he controlled the ball and curled a delightful effort into the top far corner of the net. Molineux erupted as the home side had, once again, grabbed a vital life-line for survival.

As the game drifted into injury-time, both sides were more than happy to settle for what they had and so, for the second week running, we had the surreal sight of a Rovers team passing the ball along the back line and the opposition standing off allowing them to run down the clock. Both managers gave Howard Webb a knowing look and the official duly took the cue to blow the final whistle.

The Wolves supporters flooded onto the pitch while the Rovers players came over to celebrate with the travelling contingent from Lancashire. As the Rovers players tried to make their way through the throng of home supporters, they were warmly congratulated by Wolves fans who hugged them as if they were their own players. As the home fans congregated in front of the fans from Blackburn, both sets of supporters were able to celebrate their survival together.

Steve Kean later remarked that the Rovers had saved the best until last and none of the Ewood faithful would disagree with that viewpoint. It was an outstanding team performance and the manager got his tactics spot on from the very start. Survival Sunday had provided a feast of football and underlined the reasons why the game in general and the Rovers in particular are so dear to our hearts.

[caption id=attachment_2384" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Image courtesy of cn174]Samba, MGP and Emo applaud fans at Wolves[/caption]


Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wayne Hennessey; Kevin Foley, Michael Mancienne (Sylvan Ebanks-Blake 46), Jody Craddock, George Elokobi; Matt Jarvis, Karl Henry (Adlene Guedioura 85), Jamie O'Hara, Stephen Hunt; Stephen Ward, Steven Fletcher (Christophe Berra 90 + 1)
Subs not used: Marcus Hahnemann (gk), Richard Stearman, Sam Vokes, Nanad Milijas
Manager: Mick McCarthy

Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Michel Salgado, Chris Samba, Phil Jones, Gael Givet; Steven Nzonzi, Jermaine Jones; Brett Emerton, David "Junior" Hoilett (Morten Gamst Pedersen 85), Martin Olsson; Jason Roberts (Mame Biram Diouf 80)
Subs not used: Mark Bunn (gk), David Dunn, Keith Andrews, Benjani, Roque Santa Cruz
Manager: Steve Kean


Wolverhampton Wanderers – Karl Henry, Jody Craddock, Stephen Hunt

Blackburn Rovers – Christopher Samba

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