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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 1 Cardiff City 4

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Blackburn Rovers (0) 1 – 4 (1) Cardiff City
King 51 Hudson 30, Bellamy 55,
Mason 84, Kim 85
Referee: S. Hooper Attendance: 12,460

In the week that the Blackburn Rovers Football Community Action Group opened their own particular take on the Samaritans at Ewood Park it was rather fitting that Blackburn Rovers should slump to new depths on the field of play.

Henning Berg cut a pathetic, indeed somewhat tragic, figure standing on the touchline. The team that Venky's assembled is clearly not good enough for the Championship and one suspects that in his heart of hearts even Henning knows this.

With Cardiff City already twelve points ahead of the Rovers, a defeat would surely put an end to any hopes that Henning Berg might have had about catching the leaders. With Danny Murphy ruled out with a hamstring injury, the manager was again forced to shuffle his pack and his starting eleven caused something of a surprise amongst the Ewood faithful. Whilst most people expected Joshua King to retain his place in the side at the expense of Morten Gamst Pedersen, the manager opted to leave out Colin Kazim-Richards and use King as the central attacking midfield player, while Markus Olsson occupied Pedersen's role on the left of midfield.

Once again the Rovers weren't so much slow out of the blocks but more or less staggered out of them. Cardiff, by contrast, were soon into their flowing style of pass-and-run football with former Rover Craig Bellamy proving his usual handful for opposition defenders. In truth, Cardiff harried Scott Dann and Grant Hanley at every opportunity with the result that the centre-back pairing were often reduced to merely lumping the ball forward to prevent themselves getting caught in possession.

In front of a small and subdued Rovers following at Ewood on a cold and bleak Friday night, there was little festive cheer to be had as Cardiff quickly took a firm grip on the game. Indeed, the game settled down into an all-too-familiar pattern for Rovers fans with their team struggling to find a telling pass in the final third of the field. Mauro Formica, who has enjoyed something of a revival in the past few weeks, looked out of sorts again, while Joshua King used his pace to try to trouble the visiting defence but invariably tried to beat one man too many before being crowded out.

By contrast, the visitors looked a well-drilled unit who moved the ball around at pace and with confidence. It came as no surprise when they took the lead, but the simplicity of their goal merely underlined the defensive frailties which have blighted the Rovers for so long. A free-kick eventually ended at the feet of Craig Noone on the right and his straightforward centre was met by the head of Mark Hudson, who had outmanoeuvred Scott Dann, and flew into the back of the net. Quite how the Cardiff captain and centre-back was allowed so much freedom in the penalty area remains a mystery and clearly it's a mystery to the Rovers coaching staff as this sort of goal is being conceded on a regular basis.

Those hoping that this would galvanise the Rovers into action were in for a disappointment. Apart from the odd corner or two, the Rovers never looked like threatening the league leaders. Indeed, it was Cardiff who posed the greatest threat in front of goal with Bellamy and Heidar Helguson proving elusive and posing a constant threat to the Rovers goal.

On the brink of half-time the visitors might well have doubled their advantage when an exquisite pass from midfield set Bellamy on his way and the former Ewood favourite left the defence for dead before crashing a thunderous effort against the crossbar.

Berg, who had stood stony-faced on the touchline during the first half, immediately withdrew Markus Olsson at the break and replaced him with Colin Kazim-Richards. The Turkish international quickly responded with a delightful piece of skill that saw him control, turn and pass the ball into the path of Joshua King in an instant. The Old Trafford youngster was onto the pass in a flash and used his pace to get away from the defence before he calmly tucked the ball under David Marshall to put the Rovers on level terms on 51 minutes.

There was the promise of a Rovers revival as the mood around Ewood changed to one of hope and for a minute or two the players responded until poor defending gifted the visitors a second goal. Just four minutes after King had given the Rovers hope, Kazim-Richards headed a ball back which deflected into the path of Helguson, who wasted no time in playing in Bellamy, and in a flash the Welsh striker had moved wide and fired a shot across Robinson and into the back of the net.

The Rovers might well, indeed should, have been on level terms on 64 minutes when Etuhu's shot deflected into the path of Formica, who wildly fired against the bar from just eight yards out with a seemingly open goal in front of him.

That miss signalled the end of the Rovers' hopes of getting back into the game as Cardiff tightened their grip on proceedings. Berg introduced Fabio Nunes and Ruben Rochina, but, as usual, the Rovers' young foreign contingent offered a few flicks and tricks but nothing of substance.

Cardiff, by contrast, went for the jugular and on 84 minutes scored a third, which again exposed the frailties in the heart of the Rovers defence. A long ball forward was met by the head of Joe Mason, who flicked the ball over Dann and then raced on to collect the ball and beat Robinson with a low shot into the corner of the net. It was the signal for many of the Ewood faithful to get up and leave and sixty seconds later the vast majority of Rovers fans were looking for the exits. Dann was again at fault, losing possession and giving Kim the opportunity to beat Robinson and notch the fourth goal for the visitors.

For Henning Berg the nightmare seems never-ending. Eight games under his stewardship have brought just one win and a meagre return of six points from a possible twenty-four. The automatic promotion places appear to be long gone even though the season hasn't, as yet, reached the halfway stage. Indeed, the Rovers are desperately clinging onto the coattails of the sixth-placed club in the hope that they can somehow snatch a play-off place — something which looks increasingly unlikely with each passing week.

The public of Blackburn appear completely disillusioned by the whole Venky's circus and are turning their backs on the club in ever increasing numbers. The rows upon row of empty seats are now a regular feature of home games.

As for the players, what more is there to say? Defensively, once again, the team were pitifully poor. Quite why Gael Givet remains on the bench is a mystery to most of the few remaining supporters who actually bother to attend games. Scott Dann, after recent improved performances, returned to the accident-prone form which has blighted his performances for much of his time at Ewood Park. Grant Hanley seems to become slower and more cumbersome with every appearance. The holding midfield duo Jason Lowe and Dickson Etuhu proved to be depressingly poor. Neither is good in their use of the ball and whilst Lowe is at least mobile, Etuhu seems almost statuesque in his approach. Cardiff had little difficulty in circumventing them and exposing the defensive frailties of Dann and Hanley.

Until the arrival of Colin Kazim-Richards, the Rovers attacking midfield trio offered little or nothing going forward. Mauro Formica was badly out of sorts after his recent revival. Joshua King did a favourable impression of Ruben Rochina running up too many blind alleys — admittedly King arrived there rather more quickly than the more sedate Rochina. Probably the first that most fans learned of the presence of Markus Olsson was when it was announced he had been substituted at the start of the second half. To describe his first-half performance as anonymous would be to flatter him.

Jordan Rhodes again demonstrated that he is not suited to the role he is being asked to play nor is he suited to the style of football that the Rovers are trying to adopt. He lacks the pace and physique to play as a lone striker and without the necessary service he is little more than a passenger. The continued absence of Nuno Gomes has really affected Rhodes in much the same way as the sale of Andy Cole ended the career of Jonathan Stead at the Rovers. Both players benefited from the presence of an experienced partner who could guide them through games.

The Rovers looked better, even if only momentarily, once Kazim-Richards appeared, for in this league as well as pace and skill there is a need for muscle and passion — qualities which are lacking in so many of the Rovers youngsters it would seem.

This season reminds me of so many in the latter part of the sixties when the Rovers would begin brightly only to fade as Christmas and the New Year approached. Promotion this season looks entirely dependent on snatching the final play-off place and at the moment that is looking increasingly unlikely. A major rethink is going to be required and a restructuring of a squad that is clearly not suited to Championship football. Whether Venky's have the money to do this and whether Berg will be given the time to do this is another matter.

The only Christmas Carol likely to be heard coming out of Ewood Park this festive season is "In the Bleak Midwinter".


Blackburn Rovers

Paul Robinson; Adam Henley, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Martin Olsson; Jason Lowe, Dickson Etuhu (Ruben Rochina 82); Mauro Formica (Fabio Nunes 80), Joshua King, Markus Olsson (Colin Kazim-Richards 46); Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Gael Givet, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Simon Vukcevic
Manager: Henning Berg

Cardiff City

David Marshall; Matt Connolly, Mark Hudson, Ben Turner, Andrew Taylor; Craig Noone (Bo-Kyung Kim 70), Don Cowie, Peter Whittingham, Craig Conway; Heidar Helguson (Rudy Gestede 90 + 3), Craig Bellamy (Joe Mason 80)
Subs not used: Joe Lewis (gk), Kevin McNaughton, Aron Gunnarsson, Simon Lappin
Manager: Malky Mackay


Blackburn Rovers – Jason Lowe, Martin Olsson, Grant Hanley

Cardiff City – Mark Hudson, Craig Noone, Heidar Helguson

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