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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 0 Millwall 2

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Blackburn Rovers (0) 0 – 2 (0) Millwall
Wood 71, Henry 90
Referee: E. Ilderton Attendance: 13,898

After five games, in which ten points have been dropped, Henning Berg can be under no illusions about the size of the task facing him at Ewood Park. The automatic promotion places are fast disappearing over the horizon and many more performances like this one will surely see the Rovers struggle to clinch a play-off place. The simple fact was that Millwall were by far the superior team on show at Ewood Park and might easily have won this game more comfortably than they did. Not for the first time this season a team which, on paper at least, looked inferior simply outplayed the highly paid squad that has been assembled at Ewood Park.

One suspects, rather too late sadly, that the penny might finally be dropping with the owners that it is far easier to keep a club in the Premier League than try to win promotion into that league. One can only hope that common sense will finally prevail and the owners will give the manager both the time and money to build a squad that will bring success back to Ewood Park without handicapping him with ridiculous timescales.

Berg kept faith with the same starting eleven that had enjoyed such a convincing win at London Road last week. However, Millwall proved a very different proposition as one might expect from one of the form teams in the division.

Millwall, who had been unbeaten in their previous ten games, looked a fairly impressive outfit from the very start. Indeed, after just seven minutes they found the back of the net when Andy Keogh headed home a super cross from James Henry. Fortunately, a linesman's flag delivered an offside verdict to wipe out the goal, but the warning was there for all to see.

Millwall continued to get in a succession of dangerous crosses and after twenty minutes Keogh had the ball in the net again but once more had strayed offside. However, the ease with which the ball was being delivered into the Rovers area was a worry and only a brilliant clearance from Scott Dann, unquestionably the Rovers best defender on the day, prevented the visitors from converting yet another dangerous cross.

Kenny Jackett's side were relentless in their approach — energetic in attack and uncompromising in defence — and boasted the same qualities that Berg would have remembered from the promotion side that Graeme Souness assembled — sadly the very qualities that this present Rovers squad lack.

Paul Robinson was tested by a fierce shot from Chris Wood which the former England 'keeper couldn't hold. Indeed, Robinson looked fairly jittery all afternoon — and not for the first time this season.

At the other end Ruben Rochina had a couple of efforts which David Forde dealt with, but in truth the young Spaniard served up another of his frustrating displays when he merely flatters to deceive.

The Rovers started the second half in a more positive mood and it looked clear that the players had been instructed to get the ball into the danger areas a little more quickly. An early cross from Rochina was headed over by Jordan Rhodes and then Martin Olsson showed a deft touch to beat two defenders in the area and forced Forde into a brilliant fingertip save to deny the Swedish international from opening the scoring. Olsson had been set up by Joshua King, who had entered the fray as a substitute for Markus Olsson.

The Manchester United youngster forced another good save from Forde before Millwall began to tighten their grip on the game and reassert their superiority.

When the goal arrived on 71 minutes, it was largely due to a shocking error by Grant Hanley, who seemed to completely miss his tackle and allow Chris Wood to take the ball on and hammer a shot past a static Robinson.

Berg immediately introduced Nuno Gomes in place of Mauro Formica, who had again shown a greater appetite for work, and later brought on Simon Vukcevic. However, try as they might the Rovers made little impact on a resolute Millwall defence.

With the Rovers committed to attack in search of an equaliser, gaps at the back began to appear which the visitors looked more than capable of exploiting. In the last minute of the game the ball fell just right for Henry and he rifled home a thunderous effort that had Robinson clutching at thin air. The goal was the signal for the remaining Rovers fans who had not already left by this stage to make their way to the exits.

Paul Robinson had a fairly unhappy afternoon and never looked completely comfortable either with his handling or his kicking. Both Adam Henley and Martin Olsson were tested early on but got better as the game went on. Both provided width and pace down the flanks and Olsson was very unfortunate to see his superb piece of individualism go unrewarded — in truth it was the best effort on goal from the Rovers.

Scott Dann was the pick of the defenders and seemed to be in the right place at the right time on most occasions. Sadly, Grant Hanley again demonstrated that he is prone to costly gaffs and his error on the opening goal was unforgiveable at this level.

Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu were less effective in the holding midfield roles than of late. Both were hustled and given little time on the ball and Murphy struggled to get his passing game into gear as a result. Physically, Etuhu looks like he should be capable of imposing himself on the game at this level, but as we reach the end of November he has yet to do it.

Of the three attacking midfield players — Mauro Formica, Ruben Rochina and Markus Olsson — it was Formica who gave the most workmanlike display. He is clearly under instructions to come inside and support Rhodes when the Rovers have the ball and, when we don't, he works hard to cover young Henley. At times he looked our best bet for creating something and although he might lack the flair of Rochina, he seems to have a better all-round game.

Rochina continues to remain a fascinating and frustrating enigma. Undoubtedly talented, with skill in abundance, and yet his judgement seems fatally flawed on so many occasions. Harnessing this talent for the good of the team is clearly going to be Berg's most immediate challenge.

Markus Olsson again demonstrated a useful turn of pace but failed to make much impact in terms of delivering crosses for Jordan Rhodes and it was no surprise when he was withdrawn early in the second half.

As for Rhodes it was another game in which he was largely anonymous due to a lack of service. When decent sides cut off his supply, the £8 million hit-man struggles to make much impact in a game. As is well known, Rhodes is a penalty-box predator and Millwall had clearly done their homework and ensured that he didn't get the service he requires. Sadly, with Leon Best out until January or February, the Rovers simply don't have a plan "B" and the need for a robust target man is there for all to see.

Joshua King made an impressive debut when he came on and will clearly give the Rovers a fresh injection of pace down the left wing and looked particularly dangerous when cutting inside and using his right foot to shoot or centre.

Automatic promotion is looking increasingly unlikely with every point dropped and the lottery that is the play-offs would seem to offer the most realistic route for a quick return to the Premier League. However, on the evidence of the season thus far the squad will need strengthening in January and one can only hope that sufficient points can be gained in the meantime to keep the club in touch with the promotion places. With Bolton and Burnley on the immediate horizon the next five weeks or so are going to go a long way in deciding the ultimate outcome at the end of the season.

However, perhaps the greatest worry for those in the corridors of power at Ewood Park is the fact that only two clubs — Barnsley and Blackpool — had lower attendances than Ewood Park. The fact that the Walker Trust delivered the longest period of sustained top-flight football at the club since the 1930s should never be underestimated. The simple fact is that many supporters are unwilling to watch the dross that passes for Championship football and the shambles of the past two years has cost the club so many long-standing supporters who remain reluctant to return. Promotion is vital for so many reasons and yet seems so far away.


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Adam Henley, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Martin Olsson; Danny Murphy (Simon Vukcevic 85), Dickson Etuhu; Mauro Formica (Nuno Gomes 72), Ruben Rochina, Markus Olsson (Joshua King 56); Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Gael Givet, Jason Lowe, Morten Gamst Pedersen
Manager: Henning Berg


David Forde; Adam Smith, Danny Shittu, Mark Beevers, Shane Lowry; James Henry, Josh Wright, Nadjim Abdou, Chris Taylor (Scott Malone 87); Chris Wood, Andy Keogh
Subs not used: Maik Taylor (gk), Therry Racon, Liam Feeney, Jack Smith, Dany N'Guessan, Karleigh Osborne
Manager: Kenny Jackett


Blackburn Rovers – None
Millwall – Shane Lowry, Danny Shittu, James Henry, Andy Keogh

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