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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1

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Blackburn Rovers (1) 1 – 1 (0) Brighton & Hove Albion
Rhodes (pen) 45 Lopez (pen) 90 + 6
Referee: R. Madley Attendance: 12,230

When a David Lopez penalty hit the back of the Rovers net some six minutes into injury time, it not only robbed the Rovers of a well-deserved victory but also, effectively, ensured that Championship football would be on view at Ewood Park next season. All but the most optimistic of the "Blue & White" tinted spec wearing brigade have now accepted that the play-offs are beyond our reach despite there still being some eighteen games left to play.

However, for Michael Appleton, being becalmed in mid-table may yet work to his advantage. With the global advisor's ranting of "promotion or bust" now silenced, the new manager may well find himself with a four-month window of opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the club and assemble a squad that can hit the ground running next August. One is reminded of how well such a strategy worked for Gordon Lee in a bygone era when he abandoned a faltering promotion push and, as a new manager, took the opportunity to realign the playing staff and build the foundations of what was to become his Third Division Championship winning side. One sees more than a passing resemblance in Appleton to the forthright and no-nonsense approach that Lee brought to Ewood Park over a quarter of a century ago. One can but hope that the owners are prepared to give Appleton the time and money needed to rebuild the club after the shambolic management of the past two years.

Appleton wasted no time in making adjustments to the Rovers line-up for his second match in charge at Ewood Park. Out went Simon Vukcevic and Ruben Rochina, as Appleton opted for Morten Gamst Pedersen and Markus Olsson to fill the wide positions. It proved to be a wise move with both players giving the side a much better balance and both showing a greater appetite for working up and down the flanks than those who they replaced.

As expected, Brighton enjoyed plenty of possession during the opening period, but tactically Appleton was able to negate much of this possession and ensure that they didn't get into areas that could actually hurt the Rovers. Pedersen provided able cover for young Todd Kane on the right, whilst the Olsson brothers worked up and down on the left wing. With Danny Murphy and Jason Lowe closing down spaces in the centre of the field, the visitors were often forced to play a backwards or sideways pass rather than getting at the heart of the Rovers defence.

Carrying an extra man in midfield during the first half enabled the visitors to continue to enjoy plenty of possession, but in truth neither side looked particularly dangerous in front of goal.

It was the Rovers who had the first opportunity to get on the scoresheet when Jason Lowe charged forward and hit a well-directed shot which Tomasz Kuszczak did well to get down to and tip away from goal. The chance was created by some neat interplay between Jordan Rhodes and Colin Kazim-Richards, who were working in tandem in attack.

A run down the left by Wayne Bridge resulted in a headed chance that went wide and then Jake Kean had to scramble across his goal as Liam Bridcutt's shot went narrowly wide.

A dipping volley from Pedersen tested Kuszczak and the former Manchester United 'keeper did well to keep it out.

As the first half entered its dying moments, the Rovers were gifted the opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot. In an off-the-ball incident Adam El-Abd hauled down Pedersen and the assistant referee immediately signalled for a spot-kick.

Jordan Rhodes calmly slotted the penalty home to give the Rovers a welcome half-time lead and notch his sixteenth goal of the season for the Rovers.

The visitors started the second period brightly and Guy Poyet wasted no time in introducing a succession of substitutes as he tried to improve his attacking options.

As the half wore on, the Rovers looked increasingly comfortable and enjoyed a number of dangerous moments of their own. Martin Olsson fired over after a good run, whilst Pedersen set up Kazim-Richards, who fired a wickedly swerving effort into the side-netting. The Turkish international then had Kuszczak desperately clawing another effort away as the Rovers pushed for a second goal.

With five minutes remaining, the Rovers seemed to have clinched that goal when Martin Olsson's cross from the left was met by the head of Pedersen, who in turn nodded the ball back across goal for Rhodes to race onto and send a looping header seemingly destined for the top corner of the net. However, the acrobatic Polish international 'keeper managed to get fingertips to the ball and keep it out.

As the game moved deep into injury time — a more than generous helping of five minutes being allowed — the Rovers appeared to have weathered the storm until one moment of madness from David Goodwillie. With the game passing the five-added-minutes mark, Goodwillie, who had replaced the injured Markus Olsson, found himself in his own area chasing Lopez, who was heading away from goal. Inexplicably, the Scottish international pushed the Brighton man to the ground and the assistant referee immediately flagged for a penalty. Lopez picked himself up and promptly dispatched the spot-kick into the back of the net.

It was a heartbreaking moment for both players and spectators alike as two points were so carelessly tossed away by a moment of madness from Goodwillie.

Whilst it would be foolish to claim that this was an outstanding performance, it was certainly a vast improvement on what was on offer on Saturday. Appleton seemed to have set the team up with a view to nullifying the passing game which Brighton are noted for and there is no doubt that it was a plan which proved hugely successful.

Once again, Jake Kean did little wrong and seems to be growing into the role of the Number One custodian. His youth will mean that he will make mistakes on occasions, but the lad's potential suggests that the Rovers might well have a real find on their hands.

Defensively, the back four looked fairly solid throughout and will have been devastated to lose a much-prized clean sheet in such a way. Todd Kean and Martin Olsson were effective in both defence and attack, while Grant Hanley and Scott Dann dominated things in the heart of the back four.

In midfield both Danny Murphy and Jason Lowe enjoyed better games than they had done on Saturday. Both got through a prodigious amount of work to prevent the visitors from creating too many openings. Sadly, Murphy was a little wayward with some of his passing, but he did keep things ticking over in the centre of the park. Lowe looked to get forward a little more than he has done in the past and was unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet in the first half.

Markus Olsson and Morten Gamst Pedersen occupied the flanks and certainly strengthened the side. Olsson provided plenty of pace down the left and linked up well with this brother. Pedersen, playing on the right, got through a tremendous amount of work both going forward and providing cover for Todd Kane. Whilst his passes were not always the best, he caused the visitors a number of problems and, of course, won the all-important penalty.

In attack Colin Kazim-Richards had an excellent game and was worthy of the Man of the Match award. He caused Brighton untold problems with his powerful play and linked up well with Jordan Rhodes. The Scottish striker seemed to adopt a slightly more mobile role and attempted to pull the Brighton defence out to wide positions in a way in which he hasn't really done this season.

Of course it was not perfect and there is still a long way to go, but the signs were fairly encouraging for a sparse crowd of 12,230 — and that figure certainly looked on the generous side. The fans responded to the efforts of the players and, despite the disappointment of the result, the supporters left Ewood in far better heart than they had done on Saturday.


Blackburn Rovers

Jake Kean; Todd Kane, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Martin Olsson; Morten Gamst Pedersen, Jason Lowe, Danny Murphy, Markus Olsson (David Goodwillie 85); Colin Kazim-Richards, Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Sebastian Usai (gk), Gael Givet, Fabio Nunes, David Dunn, Nuno Gomes, Ruben Rochina
Manager: Michael Appleton

Brighton & Hove Albion

Tomasz Kuszczak; Inigo Calderon, Gordon Greer, Adam El-Abd, Wayne Bridge; David Lopez, Gary Dicker, Liam Bridcutt, Andrea Orlandi (Craig Mackail-Smith 55), Vicente Rodriguez (Will Buckley 55); Ashley Barnes (Will Hoskins 66)
Subs not sued: Casper Ankergren (gk), Dean Hammond, Marcos Painter, Kazenga LuaLua
Manager: Gus Poyet


Blackburn Rovers – Morten Gamst Pedersen, Martin Olsson, Jason Lowe

Brighton & Hove Albion – Ashley Barnes, Will Buckley, Liam Bridcutt

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