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[Archived] News Article -> 2011/12 Carling Cup Match Report: Rovers 4 Newcastle United 3 (AET)

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Carling Cup 4th Round

Blackburn Rovers4 – 3


Newcastle United

Rochina 5, Yakubu (pen) 64,

Pedersen 99, Givet 120

Guthrie 90 + 3, Cabaye 90 + 6,

Lovenkrands (pen) 105 + 3

Referee: R. Madeley Attendance: 10,682

On a night when Ewood Park was depressingly empty, apart from the sizeable contingent from Newcastle, the Rovers produced a performance which demonstrated that the players would appear to be fully committed to their beleaguered manager. Having conceded two goals during the final three minutes of over six minutes of injury time — and surely only the referee knows where all that time came from — it would have been so easy for heads to drop and Newcastle to run rampant during extra-time. However, the players responded to the manager, dug in and pulled off a remarkable win which sent the small contingent of Rovers' fans home very happy. Of course, it doesn't mean everything is wonderful or that our league position is suddenly going to miraculously improve, but what a pleasure it was to come off Ewood Park talking about the game rather than protests about the manager.

Both managers made multiple changes to their starting elevens. Alan Pardew introduced five players to the side which had defeated Wigan on Saturday, while Steve Kean also made five changes with Mark Bunn, Radosav Petrovic, Ruben Rochina, David Goodwillie and Yakubu being drafted into the side which performed so valiantly against Tottenham Hotspur.

The Rovers began the game exceptionally well and were ahead after only five minutes. Martin Olsson and "Junior" Hoilett combined well, with Olsson ending a speedy run with a pin-point cross to Rochina, who rifled home a first-time shot past Tim Krul.

However, the visitors might well have scored an immediate equaliser, but Demba Ba, who looked marginally offside, blasted his shot against the post with Bunn well beaten.

At the other end, Goodwillie's rather tame shot was spilled by Krul, but the ‘keeper managed to grab the ball at the second attempt before Yakubu could take advantage of the error. The Dutch ‘keeper then saved an effort from Rochina with his legs before being forced to push away a swerving free-kick from Morten Gamst Pedersen.

Although the Rovers enjoyed the better opportunities of the first half, Newcastle might well have scored when Danny Guthrie worked his way into the penalty area before firing a cross-cum-shot narrowly wide at the far post with Ba sliding in but fractionally too late to get the all-important touch.

The visitors were fortunate to keep eleven men on the pitch when Fabricio Coloccini upended Yakubu when the Nigerian international looked set to break clear. It was a dreadful foul and might well have received more than a yellow card if it were not for the close proximity of other Newcastle defenders.

As the half-time whistle approached, Krul was again in the thick of the action when he made another save from Yakubu.

The Rovers had the first opportunity of the second period, but Goodwillie again failed to get any power or direction into his effort. However, it was the visitors who began to get the upper hand as they increased the tempo and tempers began to get frayed when Newcastle had two penalty appeals turned down. The first, for a handball against a Rovers defender, appeared to be a case of ball-to-hand rather than the other way round, while Ba's theatrical dive when trying to turn Samba seemed overly dramatic and more a case of a slip on the greasy surface.

However, almost immediately the Rovers were awarded their own penalty when Mr. Madeley decided that Rochina had been taken down by Krul on the edge of the area. It was, undoubtedly, a clumsy attempt to win the ball, but some referees might well have given the 'keeper the benefit of the doubt. Fortunately for the Rovers, Mr. Madeley was not one of them. Yakubu stepped up to take the spot kick and calmly sent Krul the wrong way.

Alan Pardew made the expected changes with Sammy Ameobi, Gabriel Obertan and Peter Lovenkrands all being introduced to add more firepower to the Newcastle attack.

As the game drifted to the 90-minute mark, the Rovers appeared to have weathered the storm with Chris Samba and Gael Givet in outstanding form at the heart of the defence. There were gasps of disbelief amongst the Rovers fans when the fourth official indicated that there would be five minutes of time added on.

The Rovers negotiated the first few minutes with little difficulty, but on 93 minutes the visitors scored what ought to have been little more than a consolation goal. Guthrie found himself in acres of space some 25 yards from goal and whipped in a shot which swerved past Samba and out of the reach of Bunn to find the corner of the net.

The game was into the sixth minute of time added on when Samba fouled Lovenkrands some 25 yards from goal. Yohan Cabaye stepped up to take the kick and curled a wonderful effort over the wall and beyond Bunn. It was pure heartbreak for the Rovers and pure joy for the Newcastle contingent.

The pressure on both Kean and the players at that point must have been immense, but, fair play to the manager, he galvanised his players to go again and, rather than sit back and accept the seemingly inevitable, they rallied and took the lead once more.

Pedersen gave the visitors warning of his ability on free-kicks when he whipped a low effort narrowly wide as the Rovers started the extra-time period on the offensive. On 99 minutes the Rovers duly took the lead when the Norwegian's free-kick took a slight deflection of the wall and flew into the net.

The first half of extra-time had drifted into added time, and again only the referee knows why, when Bunn pulled off a terrific save to deny Ba. The ball appeared to have been cleared when the linesman left many fans bemused when he signalled for a penalty. In the scramble to clear the ball, he had adjudged that Grant Hanley had committed a foul. Lovenkrands duly accepted the gift and brought Newcastle level.

The second period of extra-time produced little in the way of a goal threat from either side and it appeared as though the clash would be decided on penalties. However, in the final minute of extra-time the Rovers were awarded a free-kick which led to the winning goal. Pedersen, back to his best on dead-ball duty, lofted the ball onto the head of Samba, who, in turn, headed the ball across goal for Gael Givet to dive in and head home by the post. His goal sparked scenes of wild celebration amongst both the players and supporters.

There was no time for Newcastle to come back and so the Rovers duly marched on to the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.

The result, and more importantly the performance, must have come as a welcome relief for Steve Kean. On the night, his selection and tactics proved spot on and few could have quibbled with his substitutions. The introduction of Formica for Yakubu seemed eminently sensible as did substituting Rochina with Vukcevic to help nullify the threat of Obertan after he was brought on by Pardew. With three minutes remaining, few would argue that replacing Hoilett with Hanley seemed a sensible approach to shore up the defence and settle for what we had. Having seen his side concede two goals in injury time, Kean deserves some credit for getting his players motivated for the extra-time and clearly the players responded. There is certainly no evidence to suggest that the manager has lost the dressing room in the same way that Paul Ince did. One suspects that it is the players' support for the manager that is the main reason why Mrs Desai continues to give him her full support.

There were a number of positives to take from the game. Jason Lowe had an excellent game at right-back while Samba and Givet proved a very good combination in the centre of defence. Olsson was a threat coming forward from full-back and his link-up play with Hoilett on the left was excellent. Pedersen gave another sound performance in the centre of midfield and was dangerous from set-pieces. However, Petrovic continues to struggle with the pace of English football and his distribution remains inconsistent. Rochina was a threat on the right, particularly in the first half, but at times he has a tendency to overdo things and loses possession rather too easily. However, in and around the opposition area there is no doubt that he poses a serious threat.

In attack, the Rovers were a little disappointing. Although Yakubu is not the most mobile, he does have the ability to retain possession and bring others into the game. Goodwillie, for all his effort, seems a little off the pace at the moment and struggles to pose much of a threat in terms of goalscoring. This is one area where the owners are going to have to spend some serious money in January if they want to keep the Rovers in the top flight. At present, we simply don't look to have a striker who is capable of scoring 10 or 15 goals a season.

Steve Kean has his critics, and I'm amongst them; however, on the night he deserves some praise for rallying his players and, in turn, the players showed that they are fully committed to their manager. This is clearly going to become a dilemma for owners who are still strong in their support of the manager and highlights the widening chasm that is developing between sections of the supporters and the owners. The manager retains the confidence of the owners and the players but not a large section of the supporters. Ultimately, results should be the yardstick by which the manager is judged and one suspects that he will now be given time to prove he is capable of turning things around, particularly if he can achieve a positive result at Norwich. The overwhelming majority of supporters simply want to see the Rovers win and if Kean proves he can win on a regular basis, he will go some way to turning around the opposition to him. Last night it was simply a joy to celebrate a victory and leave Ewood Park talking about the performances and the goals rather than discussing the future of the manager. It may only be a brief respite from the acrimony that surrounds Kean, but it was a welcome one nonetheless.


Blackburn Rovers

Mark Bunn; Jason Lowe, Chris Samba, Gael Givet, Martin Olsson; Ruben Rochina (Simon Vukcevic 77), Radosav Petrovic, Morten Gamst Pedersen, David "Junior" Hoilett (Grant Hanley 87); David Goodwillie, Yakubu (Mauro Formica 66)

Subs not used: Paul Robinson (gk), Miles Anderson, Robbie Cotton, Jason Roberts

Manager: Steve Kean

Newcastle United

Tim Krul; Danny Simpson (Sammy Ameobi 69), James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon; Sylvain Marveaux (Gabriel Obertan 76), Danny Guthrie, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Hatem Ben Arfa (Peter Lovenkrands 79); Demba Ba

Subs not used: Rob Elliott (gk), Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling, Nile Ranger

Manager: Alan Pardew


Blackburn Rovers – David "Junior" Hoilett, Martin Olsson

Newcastle United – Fabricio Coloccini, James Perch, Tim Krul, Yohan Cabaye

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