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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 1 Hull City 0

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Blackburn Rovers (0) 1 – 0 (0) Hull City
Kazim-Richards 75
Referee: T. Bates Attendance: 13,562

A vital three points were gained in the first home match of the season, but Steve Kean was left to rue the possible loss of goalscorer Colin Kazim-Richards for Saturday's important clash with Leicester City. Kazim-Richards, who'd notched his second goal of the season to clinch the points, limped off near the end and if he is not fit for the weekend, the Rovers' wafer-thin resources in the forward department will be stretched to breaking point. With a tricky cup tie at MK Dons on Tuesday and a trip to Elland Road the following weekend, Steve Kean simply cannot afford to have any more injuries to key personnel.

The manager made three changes to the starting line-up by dropping Morten Gamst Pedersen and Nuno Gomes to the bench, while the club reported that Mauro Formica was missing due to illness. Marcus Olsson came in at left-back with Jason Lowe switching to his more familiar midfield role, albeit on the right-wing. David Dunn came in for Gomes, while Fabio Nunes made his debut on the left wing.

Steve Bruce opted for a fairly defensive line-up with three centre-backs, including his son and former Rover Alex, with no fewer than half a dozen players occupying midfield berths. Thus, when the Rovers had possession, the visitors simply dropped their wing-backs into the full-back positions and denied space for the Rovers to exploit. It was a strategy that worked extremely well for 75 minutes until Kazim-Richards broke the deadlock.

[caption id=attachment_4996" align="alignright" width="189]Colin Kazim Richards Colin Kazim Richards © cn174[/caption]

The first half was a fairly forgettable affair with the Rovers enjoying long spells of possession but without ever threatening the Hull goal. Some neat interplay between Lowe and Dunn presented Kazim-Richards with a sharp chance, but his shot was wide. That effort came in the opening minutes, but for the rest of the half Ben Amos, on loan from Manchester United, had little to do in the Hull goal.

The visitors had spells when they threatened to create something, but often the final pass was woeful or the shot was well off target. In midfield Dickson Etuhu cut an imposing figure and provided the sort of defensive cover and ball-winning attributes that have been missing for so long in that particular department of the Rovers team. Danny Murphy tried to keep things ticking over with his usual array of passes, but Hull's defensive line-up meant that Kazim-Richards struggled to find as much space as he had done at Portman Road at the weekend. The result was that Murphy became increasingly frustrated as a number of his passes came to nothing and the Rovers struggled to create any clear-cut chances.

Indeed, it was Paul Robinson who was called upon to make the first real save of the game when he had to beat away a powerful effort from Nick Proschwitz on 25 minutes.

Although the Rovers enjoyed the greater share of possession, it was Hull who started to look the more dangerous as half-time approached. The visitors really ought to have profited from a superb cross from Liam Rosenior while Abdoulaye Faye out-muscled his markers but headed over from a corner. Robinson was then called into action to save from Robert Koren.

The Rovers players left the field at the end of forty-five minutes to a chorus of boos from the Ewood faithful, who were greatly reduced in number.

The visitors produced another scare early in the second half when Joe Dudgeon arrived at the far post to meet another cross from Rosenior. However, by the time the ball reached him, he was at the tightest of angles and could only put the ball into the sidenetting.

[caption id=attachment_4998" align="alignleft" width="300]Nunu gomes Nunu Gomes © cn174[/caption]

Steve Kean attempted to instil some urgency into his side with the introduction of Nuno Gomes to operate behind Kazim-Richards in place of David Dunn. A second switch saw Bruno Ribeiro make his long-delayed debut, coming on to play at left-back, which enabled Olsson to move forward to use his pace on the left wing.

It was somewhat ironic that the first meaningful shot that Amos had to save came from Ribeiro, who took the ball forward on the left before cutting inside to fire a right-foot shot which Amos saved at the foot of the post.

The goal came with just 15 minutes remaining. Etuhu played the ball towards the far post, where Gomes managed to chest the ball down and then flick it back towards Olsson. Unfortunately, the young Swedish international was unable to make a proper connection with the ball as he attempted to volley it into the net. Fortunately, the ball struck a defender and rebounded back to Olsson and then bounced off him into the path of Kazim-Richards and the Turkish international wasted no time in finding the back of the net. It was a scrambled affair but, nonetheless, a vital goal.

Hull then pushed forward with a little more urgency and, in truth, created several good opportunities, but their finishing was desperately poor. The difference between Premier League and Championship football is clear for all to see and that is in the vital last third of the pitch. One suspects that Premier League sides would have taken at least one of the chances that Hull spurned.

The final whistle was greeted with cheers of relief rather than the howls of disapproval that had come at the end of the first half. Whilst it was a far from convincing performance, the fact remains that it was a win. The clubs that win automatic promotion this season will be the two who can grind out maximum points without playing well. Thus far, the Rovers have managed four points from two games without playing at their best.

The performance of Dickson Etuhu suggested that the Rovers might well have found the midfield anchorman that they have needed for so long. Bruno Ribeiro provided an encouraging cameo to suggest that he might yet have a role to play in the senior squad. Colin Kazim-Richards was in the right place at the right time to notch another goal, while Danny Murphy again impressed with his range of passing, albeit not as much as he had at Ipswich.

There is no doubt that this squad is still very much a work in progress and if a realistic promotion challenge is to be mounted, then there is still work to do in the transfer market. A specialist left-back is a matter of urgency, while another striker is now the top priority if Kazim-Richards is out for any length of time.

[caption id=attachment_4997" align="alignright" width="300]Empty Ewood Empty Ewood © cn174[/caption]

The lowest league attendance at Ewood Park since 1993 must be a cause of concern as must the lack of revenue from advertising, shirt sponsorship and hospitality packages.

However, despite the problems, four points from two indifferent performances is encouraging, although one suspects that the Rovers will face their first real test of the season on Saturday with the visit of Leicester City. Nonetheless, one feels that Steve Kean will be fairly pleased with the points haul thus far as it will surely have bought him more time to try to rebuild the club's fortunes.


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Bradley Orr, Scott Dann, Gael Givet, Marcus Olsson; Jason Lowe, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Fabio Nunes (Nuno Gomes 61); David Dunn (Bruno Ribeiro 61); Colin Kazim-Richards (Morten Gamst Pedersen 84)
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Grant Hanley, Paulo Jorge, Edinho
Manager: Steve Kean

Hull City

Ben Amos; James Chester, Abdoulaye Faye, Alex Bruce; Paul McKenna (Jay Simpson 83); Liam Rosenior (Aaron Mclean 86), Corry Evans (Tom Cairney 72), Robert Koren, Sone Aluko, Joe Dudgeon; Nick Proschwitz
Subs not used: Mark Oxley (gk), Cameron Stewart, Paul McShane, Seyi Olofinjana
Manager: Steve Bruce


Blackburn Rovers – Colin Kazim-Richards

Hull City – None

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