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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Bristol City 3 Rovers 5

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Bristol City (1) 3 – 5 (1) Blackburn Rovers
Adomah 1, Pearson 70,
Baldock 83
Rhodes 28, 90 + 5, Nuno Gomes 55,
Rochina 82, Dann 90 + 3
Referee: G. Scott Attendance: 14,657

After the game Steve Kean was quoted as saying "I thought the performance was good. I don't think our defending as a team was great, just like at Leeds. To concede six goals away from home in those two games was poor, but four points from those two games is excellent. Today we'll enjoy going top of the league and we'll enjoy getting three points on the road."

One suspects that few of the travelling fans from Lancashire who were at Ashton Gate will disagree with that summary. There were times when the Rovers played some superb football and going forward they constantly posed a threat to a team that had opened their home campaign with a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace and a 4-2 win over Cardiff City. Defensively, the Rovers still look vulnerable down the flanks, but because of their own firepower they are getting away with defensive lapses. If these shortcomings can be overcome, then the Rovers must have a decent chance of promotion. However, it must be noted that having a strong squad is no guarantee of automatic promotion as West Ham found out last season. Nonetheless, the quality in the Rovers' ranks must stand them in good stead for the battles that lie ahead.

Whatever the future may hold, there can be no denying that this was a match to savour and one that will last long in the memory no matter what the outcome of the season as a whole.

Steve Kean made one change to the team which had started against Leeds United, with Bradley Orr returning against one of his former clubs. Bruno Ribeiro switched to the right side of midfield and Mauro Formica dropped down to the bench.

Visits to Ashton Gate have rarely been happy affairs with the last league victory coming on the 13 April 1909 when Billy ‘Tinker' Davies grabbed all four goals in a 4-1 win. The last time that the Rovers visited Ashton Gate was in August 1991 when a goal by Wayne Allison was sufficient to condemn the Rovers to defeat. Within a minute the home side had taken the lead and it looked as if the Rovers' bogey ground would strike again.

The opening goal was a pretty tame affair coming from a throw-in on the right which Jon Stead held up before slipping the ball to Albert Adomah. The winger somehow found the corner of the net with a fairly innocuous shot which seemed to take a deflection on its way into the net.

The goal certainly rocked the Rovers and the opening period found City enjoying the majority of possession as they looked to build on the lead. Former Manchester United and Cardiff City 'keeper Tom Heaton was finally called into action when Nuno Gomes played in Jordan Rhodes and the 'keeper was forced to make a good save.

Just as the Rovers were starting to find their feet, they received another blow when Markus Olsson limped off the field with a hamstring injury and was replaced by his brother Martin. Ironically, the Swedish international was the next to test Heaton when he popped up in the outside-right position and wove his way into the area and fired in a decent effort which Heaton saved at his near post.

Heaton then denied another effort from Nuno Gomes before the Portuguese international played the ball forward and, after Liam Fontaine missed it, Jordan Rhodes latched onto the pass and ran clear of a static defence. As Heaton came to meet him, the Scottish striker slotted home.

As half-time approached, the Rovers suffered another blow when Gael Givet limped off and was replaced by Grant Hanley.

Stead might have opened the scoring at the start of the second half, but his shot lacked power and Orr had little difficulty in clearing the ball. Rhodes then fired in a wickedly swerving effort which Heaton did well to beat away.

The Rovers took the lead on 55 minutes with a well-worked goal that saw Dickson Etuhu play the ball to Rhodes, who showed great composure to hold the ball up before slipping it to Nuno Gomes. Once again, the Portuguese striker showed his class with a quick shot on the turn which beat Heaton and found the corner of the net.

The goal capped a period of play in which the Rovers totally dominated possession with Etuhu and Danny Murphy in control of the centre of the field aided by the hardworking Ribeiro and Morten Gamst Pedersen.

Bristol gradually started to push the Rovers further back thanks to their pace down the flanks. Adomah, who was a constant threat with his speed, skipped past Olsson and Pedersen and then found Stephen Pearson, who drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net from no more than twelve yards out. Once again, the inability of the Rovers to stop crosses cost them dear.

With two home games on the horizon, Kean wisely took Nuno Gomes off after 78 minutes and gave Ruben Rochina another opportunity to impress. The young Spaniard was quickly into the action and embarked on an impressive run from his own half straight into the Bristol City penalty area. Although he had good options on either side of him, he seemed to dally too long on the ball and just as he was about to be closed down he somehow shifted position and managed to fire the ball into the top corner of the net. It was a superb piece of individualism and looked to have clinched the points with only eight minutes remaining.

However, the home side refused to accept defeat and within a minute they were level once more. Sam Baldock, who had signed from West Ham United last month, came off the bench and lifted the home crowd with a superb strike from the edge of the area.

The Rovers then tried to reclaim their lead, but a header from Hanley lacked sufficient power to trouble Heaton, while the officials contrived to miss what appeared to be a blatant handball by a home defender in the penalty area.

As the game moved into injury time, the Rovers gained the rewards which their display thoroughly deserved. On 93 minutes a corner was cleared, but the ball came to Pedersen, who whipped a dangerous ball back into the area and Scott Dann was on hand to lash the ball into the back of the net. It was the type of finish that any striker would have been proud of.

Bristol then threw everything at the Rovers and Heaton popped up in the Rovers area trying to head home a corner. However, the ball was cleared to Rhodes, who raced forward and tried, unsuccessfully, to find an empty net from just inside the Bristol half. Fortunately, the Scottish international was far more clinical on 95 minutes when he received a pass from Etuhu and raced clear. Many might have expected him to head for the corner flag to see out the remaining minutes, but the striker had other ideas and headed into the area and then bent the ball into the far corner of the net with Heaton at full stretch and unable to reach it. It was a goal that was reminiscent of Shearer at his best.

The final whistle was greeted with huge celebrations by the manager and his players on the pitch and the huge travelling support from Lancashire. Kean urged his players to the fans who were happily chanting "Top of the league".

Defensively, the Rovers still have problems, particularly in the full-back berths. However, Scott Dann had a decent game and with a fully fit Gael Givet the Rovers might have a solid central defensive pairing. The problems, however, stem largely from the flanks and, once again, Bradley Orr had a disappointing game, while Martin Olsson looked more impressive going forward.

The midfield seems to be improving with Dickson Etuhu looking much fitter and covering more and more ground while Danny Murphy sits and simply keeps the play ticking over and then launches passes which are capable of opening up defences, particularly at this level.

Both Bruno Ribeiro and Morten Gamst Pedersen worked hard in the wide positions. Ribeiro kept possession and combined well with Nuno Gomes and Murphy and Dickson in midfield. If Pedersen was a little more wasteful in possession, it was because he was trying to put balls over the defence for Rhodes and Olsson to run onto.

In attack Nuno Gomes gets better with every game. This guy is a class act and at the moment Kean is being sensible in bringing him off between the 60- and 80-minute mark and thus saving his legs. Once again, his finish for his goal was sheer class and, of course, he also had a hand in the opening goal. He is not only a goalscorer but also a creator of goals and keeping him fit may well decide how successful the Rovers ultimately become this campaign.

Jordan Rhodes had a wonderful game and at times had a look of a young Shearer about him. He seems to have pace and power, vital ingredients for a striker, but his hold-up play and ability to bring others into the game was very encouraging. His first goal was a wonderful piece of opportunism whilst his second was simply sublime.

Ruben Rochina produced an impressive little cameo and scored a superb goal. Although I have not been amongst his biggest fans, he seemed more attuned to the needs of the team on this occasion. However, with Rhodes and Nuno Gomes in such excellent form, one feels he will have to bide his time on the bench for a while longer.

Although it's early days, this was an impressive performance and the manager can take some satisfaction with regard to the points that the Rovers have claimed thus far. There has been much talk of targets in recent days, but at the moment the manager is bang on target in terms of gaining the points needed for promotion. Of course, this is the Rovers and with two home games on the horizon this week it can quickly go wrong. However, for the moment I, for one, am more than happy to spend a couple of days basking in the warmth of a thrilling performance and being top of the league.


Bristol City

Tom Heaton; Richard Foster, Louis Carey, Liam Fontaine, Greg Cunningham; Stephen Pearson, Cole Skuse, Martyn Woolford (Paul Anderson 83); Albert Adomah, Jon Stead (Sam Baldock 64), Ryan Taylor (Steven Davies)
Subs not used: Dean Gerken (gk), James Wilson, Neil Kilkenny, Marvin Elliott
Manager: Derek McInnes

Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Bradley Orr, Scott Dann, Gael Givet (Grant Hanley 37), Markus Olsson (Martin Olsson 21); Bruno Ribeiro, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Morten Gamst Pedersen; Nuno Gomes (Ruben Rochina 78); Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), David Dunn, Paulo Jorge, Mauro Formica
Manager: Steve Kean


Bristol City – None

Blackburn Rovers – None

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