Jump to content


SINCE 1996
Proudly partnered with TheTerraceStore.com

[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 FA Cup Match Report: Rovers 0 Millwall 1

Recommended Posts

FA Cup 6th Round Replay

Blackburn Rovers(0) 0 – 1 (1)Millwall

Shittu 42

Referee: M. Clattenburg Attendance: 8,635

If anyone wants to know just how much damage Desai and the Brothers Grimm have done to Blackburn Rovers, then obtain a copy of a video of this match. If tears were shed, they were the tears of the spirit of Jack Walker mourning the loss of his beloved Rovers — destroyed by the mob from Pune.

Jack delivered promotion to the Premier League, delivered our first tentative steps into Europe and, of course, delivered the Premier League title — the first time since before the First World War that the Rovers have stood triumphant at the top of English football. He also delivered a glittering array of talent thanks to his chequebook and the ability to persuade Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford to drop down to the Second Division to help rebuild a famous old club. After Jack had gone — all too soon — the club prospered under the stewardship of John Williams and the Walker Trust, with promotion back to the Premier League, victory in the Worthington Cup and European football something of a regular occurrence at Ewood Park. Above all, the Walker Trust delivered eleven continuous years of dining at football's top table; the first time that had happened since before the Second World War.

Then Venky's arrived and today we find ourselves in the Championship, just six points from the bottom, humbled by League One Milton Keynes Dons in the Capital One Cup and now humiliated on our own patch by Millwall. Venky's managed to get rid of a highly proficient manager and replace him with one who almost got us relegated in six months. Twelve months later he completed the job and this season we have had five men sitting in the manager's office whilst a TV pundit, a former Preston North End chairman and a former Preston North End chief executive vie for supremacy in the boardroom.

On the pitch the talent which had been assembled under the likes of Souness, Hughes and Allardyce has gradually been replaced with cheap foreign imports — most of whom have now been shifted out on loan as surplus to requirements — or a motley collection of players who give the term "journeyman" a bad name.

The fans have turned their back on the club in their thousands having been completely alienated by owners who have blundered from one fiasco to the next without ever looking like they could end the spiral of decline which they, themselves, started with the dismissal of Sam Allardyce and the sale of any player of genuine quality. An attendance of just 8,635 for a sixth round FA Cup tie shows just how divorced from the fanbase the club has now become.

Michael Appleton, the latest incumbent of the manager's chair, is surely walking on thin ice after the latest debacle at Ewood Park. Appleton has said he wants to rebuild the club on solid foundations and, whilst that is a view that most supporters would echo, the reality is that any manager must also achieve results in the short term as well as building for the future. Sadly, Appleton has failed in the former and it is open to question if he will be here long enough for the latter. Perhaps the fact that the owners must now be losing money hand over fist is what will provide him with a stay of execution. To sack Appleton and his staff will require more compensation being paid out and another manager will need to be employed with a backroom staff and this will lead to another raft of changes to the playing squad which, of course, will have to be funded from the owners' rapidly emptying pockets. One suspects that Desai rues the day she decided to get involved in English football.

As for the match itself, make no mistake: over the two games Millwall were worthy winners. In Danny Shittu they had a player — a good, honest, solid professional — who fully deserves to play at Wembley for the way in which he led his team in both games. His efforts were in marked contrast to the spineless performances delivered so many times and by so many in Blue & White shirts this season. It was, therefore, fitting that the outstanding player over these two games should score the goal which gave Millwall a semi-final spot and the boost to finances which that will bring.

If the players were spineless in their approach to this game, then the blame for the tactical fiasco must rest at the door of Michael Appleton. Route One football against a defender like Shittu was never going to work. It didn't at Ewood earlier in the season and it didn't on Sunday at The Den. Why anyone would think it could work at Ewood is a mystery. Neither Jordan Rhodes nor, it would seem, Leon Best have the qualities required for a physical battle against tough, rugged, old-fashioned centre-backs. They require a different type of service and, sadly, the Rovers simply don't seem to be able to provide it.

With injuries ruling out Adam Henley, Bradley Orr and David Bentley the manager was forced to shuffle an increasingly thin pack yet again. Martin Olsson returned from injury, whilst David Dunn started in the centre of midfield. There were also places on the bench for Anton Forrester and John O'Sullivan with the squad becoming somewhat bereft of depth.

The opening moments, in front of an embarrassingly sparse crowd, were quite bright for the Rovers. Best had a shot that was saved by David Forde, whilst Rhodes was off-target with a long-range effort. A cleverly worked corner by the Rovers saw Morten Gamst Pedersen opt not to throw it into the centre but whip the ball back to Dunn, who curled an effort from outside the area narrowly wide.

However, after an encouraging opening the Rovers began to struggle to maintain the momentum. Increasingly the ball was played long for Rhodes and Best, who were totally dominated by the imposing figure of Shittu, who was ably assisted by Mark Beevers in the centre of defence. The Millwall skipper won every ball in the air and his physical presence meant neither striker was able to take the ball past him on the ground.

On 42 minutes it was Shittu who delivered the blow that the Rovers never looked like recovering from. A corner was swung into the Rovers area and Shittu brushed aside any attempt to mark him and planted a header firmly into the back of the net.

Markus Olsson, with another hamstring injury, was withdrawn at half-time and replaced by Nuno Gomes. However, hopes that the veteran Portuguese international could inspire a recovery proved unfounded as the ball continued to be lumped forward, somewhat aimlessly, and with radar-like accuracy continued to find the head of Shittu.

The Rovers' only serious attempt at goal during the second half came when Leon Best evaded a couple of challenges and created space for himself in the area to beat the 'keeper with a shot which appeared certain to find the back of the net until Shane Lowry popped up with a last-ditch clearance off the line.

After that there was little for the dwindling Ewood faithful to cheer. Gomes created a chance for Rhodes, but the striker blasted his shot high into the Darwen End.

Anton Forrester made his debut as the disappointing King succumbed to another injury, but with fifteen minutes remaining he had little opportunity to make an impact.

In the closing minutes Best again created an opportunity for himself but fired over. Indeed, Millwall ought to have ended the game with a second goal but Chris Taylor blasted the ball over the bar with just the 'keeper to beat.

The final whistle brought howls of derision from the small number of Rovers fans who remained in the ground, whilst the Millwall players celebrated in front of their own fans. It proved to be another night of shame in the tenure of Venky's. But, then, over the past two years we have come to expect nothing but disappointment and heartache.

Jake Kean had a somewhat shaky night and was fortunate not to be punished for one or two misjudgements. However, he is a young 'keeper and still learning his trade. Mistakes will happen, but the pluses still far outweigh the minuses with this young 'keeper.

The defence did a reasonable job, but once again a goal was conceded from a cross and questions must be asked about the frequency with which simple bread-and-butter crosses are being converted.

Jason Lowe did a decent job as a makeshift right-back, but being a booking away from suspension meant he had to tread very carefully when it came to tackling. Martin Olsson returned from injury but still looks better going forward than trying to defend and the same can be said of Markus, who is energetic but lacks a little in terms of quality when it comes to delivering the ball into the right areas. Both attempted to fill the left-back spot without success.

Scott Dann and Grant Hanley were both solid in defence, but their distribution of the ball was shocking. Both tended to just pump the ball forward rather aimlessly. More often than not if Shittu didn't clear it, the ball ran through for David Forde to pick up in the Millwall goal.

The midfield was again a barren area for the Rovers with the exception of David Dunn. Dunny tried his best to get things going and nobody put more effort into the game for the Rovers. Sadly, the players around him failed to respond. Morten Gamst Pedersen worked hard but with little end product. The Norwegian international has been a good servant to Blackburn Rovers, but the time has come for a long-term replacement to be found. That replacement is surely not Joshua King, who endured another disappointing night before leaving the field with what we are told is another hamstring strain. The lad has been desperately unfortunate with injuries, but one really does struggle to see what he brings to the side at the moment. His main, perhaps only, weapon is pace and if injuries or the fear of injury prevent him from utilising it, there is very little that he offers.

A similar criticism might well be laid at the door of Jordan Rhodes. We all know that Rhodes is an excellent finisher if the ball is delivered to him in the penalty area. However, as we don't have a team capable of doing that at the moment, it means he has to create things for himself and, sadly, thus far he has struggled to do this. He is not the best in the air and is far too easily brushed off the ball, particularly playing at Championship level. His lack of pace means the ball can't be hit over the top for him to chase. It seems to me that opposition managers have finally worked out that the best way to deal with Rhodes is not to mark him too closely but to cut off the supply of balls that he can feed off in the area. Without service he offers little in the way of threat to the opposition goal.

Leon Best looked far livelier than he had done on Sunday and was able to create an opening or two for himself. However, unlike Rhodes, his record would suggest that he is not a prolific goalscorer and, although he was unfortunate to see one effort cleared off the line, another good opportunity was wasted with a poor finish. It is, of course, early days for the Best–Rhodes partnership, but one cannot help but feel that both would benefit with someone like Dunny or Nuno Gomes playing just behind them and trying to deliver the type of service they require.

Quite where the Rovers go from here is anybody's guess. Points are still needed to ensure the Rovers avoid relegation and a visit from Burnley on Sunday is hardly something to relish at this moment in time. Perhaps the most worrying aspect — and I speak as someone who has been fully behind the manager — is the fact that Michael Appleton believed the players gave their all last night, yet 8,000 Rovers fans might argue otherwise. Some players did — Dunny, for example — but others looked way off the pace. Perhaps Appleton is right, perhaps they did give everything they had, and perhaps it's just that this group of players aren't good enough. That is a view that many supporters have held from day one of this disastrous campaign. However, if Burnley should leave Ewood Park with three points on Sunday, one suspects that Appleton's position will be called into question with renewed vigour. Whilst he has not had the best of luck with injuries, he badly needs to get a result and an improved performance or his position will become untenable before he gets the opportunity to make the changes he wants to make. The bottom line is that managers live or die by results and at the moment Appleton is not getting results. The greatest irony of all, of course, is that Sam Allardyce — a manager who got results — was sacked because Desai wanted to be entertained. I wonder if she has been entertained over the past two years?


Blackburn Rovers

Jake Kean; Jason Lowe, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Markus Olsson (Nuno Gomes 46); Joshua King (Anton Forrester 75), David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Martin Olsson; Jordan Rhodes, Leon Best

Subs not used: Grzegorz Sandomierski (gk), Gael Givet, Karim Rekik, David Goodwillie, John O'Sullivan

Manager: Michael Appleton


David Forde; Alan Dunne, Danny Shittu, Mark Beevers, Shane Lowry; Chris Taylor, Liam Trotter, Jack Smith, Dany N'Guessan (Nadjim Abdou 66); Andy Keogh, Rob Hulse (John Marquis 85)

Subs not used: Maik Taylor (gk), Nathan Tyson, Adam Smith, Karleigh Osborne, George Saville

Manager: Kenny Jackett


Blackburn Rovers – David Dunn

Millwall – Danny Shittu, Andy Keogh, Mark Beevers

Join in the discussion on the forum here.

View full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.