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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 2 Leicester City 1

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Blackburn Rovers (1) 2 – 1 (0) Leicester City
Gomes 33, Pedersen 79 Vardy 55
Referee: R. Madeley Attendance: 13,935

If picking up points while playing poorly is a recipe for promotion, then Steve Kean might have finally cracked this managerial game. After three performances which have ranged from indifferent to the downright awful, the Rovers sit third in the table with an impressive seven points from three games.

Quite how Leicester City left Ewood Park pointless is a mystery, but nonetheless the fact remains that the Rovers have now beaten one of the promotion favourites with what was undoubtedly their poorest performance thus far. One suspects that after this impressive start, in terms of points, those awaiting the departure of the manager may well have to wait a good deal longer. Not even his staunchest critics, and count me among them, can deny that seven points from nine is an impressive tally. Admittedly the football hasn't been great, but come next May if the Rovers are in the top two places, nobody is going to remember the quality of the football.

The visitors dominated much of the game but were ultimately undone by two quality finishes from experienced internationals Nuno Gomes and Morten Gamst Pedersen. In between these goals the Rovers had committed their usual defensive blunder with Scott Dann being the guilty party on this occasion with a hopelessly underhit backpass which allowed Jamie Vardy, the former Fleetwood Town striker, to race through and slot the ball past the hapless Paul Robinson.

The Rovers had to endure a nervy last ten minutes before the final whistle left many of the Ewood faithful convinced they had seen an act of daylight robbery right before their very eyes. Mind you — playing badly and winning is not a bad habit to fall into when you are chasing promotion!

Once again, the manager was forced to make changes with Colin Kazim-Richards being joined on the injured list by Bradley Orr and David Dunn, while Fabio Nunes dropped down to the bench. Nuno Gomes and Morten Gamst Pedersen returned to the starting line-up, while Bruno Ribeiro made the first start of his Rovers career replacing Orr at right-back. The manager surprisingly overlooked David Goodwillie and opted to give Portuguese youngster Edinho his debut as the lone front runner.

The Rovers began in similar fashion to Wednesday night in that they tried to keep possession with a series of passing movements which rarely threatened the visitors. Content to go backwards and sideways, the Rovers made little headway and Edinho, although full of youthful enthusiasm, struggled to make any impact on a rugged Leicester defence.

As the game settled, it was the visitors who began to enjoy the greater share of the play and would have taken the lead on twelve minutes but for a wonderful point-blank save by Paul Robinson. A ball from the right from Ben Marshall was met by the head of David Nugent, but Robinson miraculously kept it out as he spread himself while moving across the goal-line.

Leicester quickly started to find their attacking rhythm whilst the Rovers seemed disjointed and ill at ease. With Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu sitting deep and with Jason Lowe and Morten Gamst Pedersen lacking pace down the flanks, the Rovers struggled to make much impact as an attacking force.

The visitors, by contrast, offered a continuous threat down the flanks, particularly Lloyd Dyer on the left wing, who was ably backed up by Paul Konchesky. Andy King looked a certain scorer, but somehow Dann managed to slide in at the last minute and block King's goal-bound effort. Fortunately, like Hull on Wednesday night, the visitors didn't make the most of their opportunities and paid the price for their wastefulness after 33 minutes when the Rovers took an unlikely lead.

Gomes was the architect and the executioner of this goal. He initiated the move with a splendid ball to Jason Lowe on the right wing. Lowe, who had been largely disappointing in a wide position, escaped the attentions of Konchesky and found the oncoming Gomes in the centre. From 18 yards or so, the veteran Portuguese international struck the ball perfectly and found the bottom corner of the net. It was an exquisite finish which was not in keeping with the Rovers' performance up to that point.

The visitors hit back and Robinson was called upon to make another good save to keep out a long-range effort from the lively Nugent.

Steve Kean altered things at half-time with Edinho, who seemed rather overawed by the occasion, being withdrawn in favour of Goodwillie. A tactical switch resulted in Ribeiro and Lowe swapping positions as the manager tried to stem the flow from Leicester's left wing.

Leicester continued to take the game to the Rovers and only a combination of Robinson and Ribeiro clearing the ball off the line kept the Rovers in front as they came under heavy pressure.

Ribeiro seemed to revel in his move to midfield and was unfortunate to see a glancing header fail to find the back of the net. The Brazilian was showing some excellent touches on the right side of midfield and was always in the thick of the action.

Leicester, however, were not to be denied and on 55 minutes they got the goal which their play deserved. However, once again, the Rovers were the architects of their own downfall. A fairly aimless ball was headed back by Gael Givet towards Dann. The former Birmingham City centre-back attempted to turn to knock the ball back to Robinson but failed to make proper contact. Vardy immediately took advantage of the situation and took the ball into the area before slotting it past Robinson and into the net. It was the softest of goals to give away and one which, at the time, looked as if it might be costly.

The visitors looked the favourites to go on and win the game as the Rovers struggled to get their game together. Etuhu worked hard in the centre of midfield, but Murphy was struggling to get his radar right with his passing. Far too often his passes went astray, while his deadball kicks were disappointing to say the least. In attack, Goodwillie made little impact as he struggled to get to grips with the pace of the game.

Things might have gone from bad to worse for the Rovers after 75 minutes but for the intervention of a linesman's flag. A cross from the right was met by the head of Vardy and the ball flew into the back of the net. While the Leicester players and fans celebrated, the linesman raised his flag to indicate that Vardy was fractionally offside. It was a tight call and one that could easily have gone the other way on another day. However, this was a day when Lady Luck was betrothed solely to the Rovers.

With the game about to enter the final ten minutes, the Rovers grabbed the winner. Ruben Rochina, who had replaced Gomes, had a wildly optimistic effort on goal blocked, but the ball spun up and landed at the feet of Pedersen, who was lurking on the left of the penalty area. The Norwegian international cut in and curled a superb right-foot shot into the net off the far post. It was a moment of class from a player that so many are too eager to cast aside. Pedersen then ran to the dugout, where a walking stick was provided for him to make his point that there is still plenty of life left in this so-called "pensioner".

Leicester poured forward in search of an equaliser, but the Rovers held firm. Indeed, on more than one occasion they caught the visitors on the break and if Rochina had been a little more intelligent in his decision-making, the margin of victory might well have been greater. As it was, Goodwillie managed to force Kasper Schmeichel into making a save when he broke into the area.

Leicester will rightly feel aggrieved about the result, but once again we have seen that the quality of finishing is what might make all the difference in this league. Gomes and Pedersen both produced moments of genuine quality to score the goals which won the points, whilst the opposition simply couldn't convert possession into goals.

Whilst the points are more than welcome, the fact remains that the Rovers are not playing particularly well and defensively the team as a whole seems unbalanced. With two sitting midfield players in Murphy and Etuhu, and with Lowe and Pedersen on the wings, the Rovers lack pace in the centre of the pitch. The Rovers looked better in the second half when Ribeiro moved into midfield and Lowe dropped back and Marcus Olsson provided some pace down the left when he got forward from his full-back position. Worryingly, the Rovers still look vulnerable down their flanks. In the first half in particular, the visitors were able to send over a steady stream of crosses which we seemed unable to prevent.

With regard to individual displays, the star of the show was undoubtedly Bruno Ribeiro, who, particularly in the second half when he was moved into midfield, showed a decent touch and an ability to retain possession and cause the opposition problems. Although Murphy wasn't at his best, both he and Etuhu look comfortable in the centre of the park but need to get forward rather more than they are doing at present. On the wings neither Lowe nor Pedersen have the pace to trouble the opposition, although Pedersen showed that he can produce moments of quality that can win matches at this level.

In attack young Edinho got his first taste of senior football but understandably struggled to make much impact. He was bought for the future and at this present time is simply not ready to lead the line on his own, particularly as the Rovers are not firing on all cylinders at the moment.

Playing just behind Edinho, Gomes showed some neat touches and his finish was a moment of quality.

Both Goodwillie and Rochina were given outings from the bench but merely showed why they are not in the starting eleven at the moment. The Championship is a league which requires, first and foremost, a certain work ethic and at the moment both Goodwillie and Rochina are not quite achieving that. Goodwillie made some intelligent runs as the game went on, but his lack of pace is a serious handicap. Rochina is clearly gifted, but his decision-making is questionable and his habit of losing possession with fancy flicks has proved costly in the past and was nearly so again on one occasion in this game. With a greater level of discipline to his game, he might well prove a valuable member of the squad, but at the moment there is too much of the maverick about him.

Once again, the attendance was very disappointing with only Peterborough and Watford attracting fewer spectators. If, as Shebby said, Kean is to be judged on results, then the manager is likely to be at Ewood for some time to come and so low attendances and the lack of atmosphere that comes with that is something that all concerned are going to have to accept.

However, there is no doubt that the manager will take some consolation from the fact that having played three games, and not really performed to their best in any of them, the Rovers sit third in the table with seven points from three games. If two points a game is the requirement for automatic promotion, then the Rovers have ended their first week of Championship football on course to achieve that goal.


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Bruno Ribeiro, Scott Dann, Gael Givet, Marcus Olsson; Jason Lowe, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Morten Gamst Pedersen; Nuno Gomes (Ruben Rochina 77); Edinho (David Goodwillie 46)
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Grant Hanley, Paulo Jorge, Mauro Formica, Fabio Nunes
Manager: Steve Kean

Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel; Ritchie De Laet, Wes Morgan, Liam Moore, Paul Konchesky; Ben Marshall (Jermaine Beckford 90), Danny Drinkwater (Neil Danns 76), Andy King, Lloyd Dyer (Anthony Knockaert 69); David Nugent, Jamie Vardy
Subs not used: Conrad Logan (gk), Martyn Waghorn, Matty James, Jeffrey Schlupp
Manager: Nigel Pearson


Blackburn Rovers – Danny Murphy

Leicester City – Ritchie De Laet

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