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[Archived] News Article -> 2012/13 Match Report: Rovers 1 Crystal Palace 1

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Blackburn Rovers (1) 1 – 1 (1) Crystal Palace
Rhodes 42 Dobbie 28
Referee: P. Gibbs Attendance: 19,796

Once again, after another day of public humiliation in the High Court, it was left to Gary Bowyer and the players to restore the good name of Blackburn Rovers. Whatever happens off the field is, of course, out of the hands of Bowyer and his players. However, on the field they have restored some pride in the battered old club and at least given the Ewood faithful some cause for optimism no matter how dim that chink of optimism may be at this time.

Only a swing around in goal difference unprecedented in the game is going to deny the Rovers their place in the Championship, despite the bumbling efforts of those in the corridors of power who have almost condemned the club to the wilderness of the lower divisions.

Whilst fingers can rightly be pointed in the direction of Messrs Singh, Shaw and Agnew and their endless bickering combined with the inept leadership from the Rao family in Pune, the same cannot be said of those entrusted with guiding the team over the past few weeks. Gary Bowyer, Terry McPhillips, Tony Grant and the players have worked a minor miracle in guiding the club to safety whilst having to put up with the daily circus that Singh, Shaw and Agnew would appear to have turned Blackburn Rovers into.

Injuries again forced Bowyer to shuffle a rapidly dwindling pack with Colin Kazim-Richards, David Dunn and Markus Olsson all ruled out. In their place Nuno Gomes and Joshua King were restored to the starting eleven, whilst David Goodwillie started a game for the first time this season, ironically against the club he spent some time on loan with earlier in the campaign.

Palace needed the win to ensure they cemented their place in the play-offs and the men from Selhurst Park started the brighter of the two sides. With the need for goals, Palace ensured that Wilfried Zaha, the man Sir Alex Ferguson signed for £15 million in January, before loaning him back to Palace, saw plenty of the ball. Indeed, throughout the first half he gave Josh Morris a torrid time, but after the interval the young Rovers full-back seemed to get the better of him.

The Rovers' early attacks came from an unexpected source with David Goodwillie, playing on the right of midfield, seeing plenty of the ball. The Rovers opened with a four-man midfield with Nuno Gomes filling in the hole just behind Jordan Rhodes. Sadly, the veteran Portuguese international seemed badly out of touch, with the result that Rhodes was often left somewhat isolated.

Considering that two of the Championship's leading marksmen were on the pitch in Rhodes and Glenn Murray, it was something of a surprise that it took some 23 minutes before a decent attempt was made on goal and then Rhodes fired well over.

Nonetheless, both sides were attempting to play attractive attacking football on a difficult surface. The Ewood pitch is not what it was and with so many bobbles the players did well to produce the brand of football that they did.

After a succession of corners, which the Rovers dealt with fairly confidently, the visitors took the lead on 28 minutes with a fairly routine long ball played up to Aaron Wilbraham. The Palace front-runner flicked it forward to Stephen Dobbie, who neatly skipped inside Grant Hanley and found himself in front of goal with only Grzegorz Sandomierski to beat. Dobbie wasted no time in firing a low shot past the exposed 'keeper. Sometimes you simply have to acknowledge the skill of the opposition in creating and taking a chance. A clever piece of footwork and a clinical finish by Dobbie were testimony to that.

Palace looked to increase their lead and on 33 minutes Dobbie curled a free-kick from 30 yards just wide of the target. Another Dobbie free-kick produced a chance for Damien Delaney, but his half-volley missed the target.

The Rovers had produced one or two moments down the left thanks to the pace of King, but frustratingly the final ball was often wanting. However, on 42 minutes Morris started a move down the left which presented King with the opportunity to clip the ball over the Palace defence for Rhodes to chase. As Julian Speroni came out to meet the Scotland striker, Rhodes calmly lofted the ball over the 'keeper and into the far side of the goal. It was another wonderful piece of opportunism from Rhodes.

The interval brought a change on the part of the Rovers with the disappointing Nuno Gomes being replaced by Morten Gamst Pedersen as the Rovers reverted to a 4-2-3-1 system.

The Rovers started the second period strongly and pushed the visitors back as they began to attack down both flanks.

The Rovers had a strong shout for a penalty when a delightful piece of play down the left saw Morris make inroads into the Palace area before he seemed to be blatantly tripped by Kagisho Dikgacoi. However, the referee was unmoved and play was waved on much to the consternation of Gary Bowyer and the Ewood faithful. Whilst the Rovers were rightly enraged about this decision, they would later have something of an escape themselves when Hanley appeared to push Glenn Murray to the ground when the Palace striker seemed certain to reach a cross and head for goal from close range.

Almost immediately Morris created another opportunity when he raced forward and his shot, whilst not on target, almost found the foot of Rhodes before eventually landing at the feet of Goodwillie on the far post. From a tight angle the former Scottish international striker got his shot away, but Speroni claimed it without too much difficulty.

Palace really ought to have taken the lead almost immediately when Murray got on the end of a long ball, stepped inside Hanley and, with just Sandomierski to beat, crashed his shot onto the top of the crossbar and over.

A header from Mile Jedinak, on the hour mark, deflected off the top of the goalframe and then Murray saw another fine drive flash just wide of the far post.

Gradually, the Rovers halted the frequency of the Palace attacks and started to apply more pressure of their own. King, Pedersen and Morris worked some neat triangular passing movements down the left as both Morris and King got into some excellent positions and Pedersen was able to find them with some delicately played passes. Morris, in particular, was beginning to catch the eye as he gained in confidence and made a number of positive runs at the visiting defence.

With Pedersen covering them, King and Morris were able to continue to raid down the left safe in the knowledge that the gaps behind would be plugged.

Palace ought to have won the game with just six minutes remaining. Dikgacoi chipped an inch-perfect ball to the back post, where Delaney was waiting to pounce. However, his header back across goal was off target and flew harmlessly wide. It really was a very bad miss.

This was a hugely entertaining game played out by two sides who tried to play an attractive style of passing football. The Ewood faithful got right behind their team in the second half and the players responded with one of the best home performances of the season. The tactical switch at half-time which had seen the introduction of Pedersen undoubtedly helped as the Norwegian international had one of his better games and his presence seemed to give the side a better balance.

At the final whistle Gary Bowyer gathered the players together, along with his coaching staff, on the pitch and rather than a traditional lap of honour, with children in tow, they walked around the pitch to acknowledge the support of the crowd. It was a dignified end to a traumatic season at Ewood Park.

Once again, Grzegorz Sandomierski could do little about the goal. Apart from that, he did what he had to do in a confident fashion. The lad is still raw in many ways but would nonetheless make a useful addition to the squad on a permanent basis once his loan deal expires. If Paul Robinson is leaving, then cover will be required for Jake Kean and, if money is tight, one suspects that Sandomierski might well be a decent buy.

Both of the Rovers full-backs had mixed afternoons but ultimately came out on top. Todd Kane again showed why Chelsea have given him an extended contract this week with another all-action display. Good in defence and quick to attack, Kane again demonstrated good control and a willingness to get forward and support the attack even if some of his crosses were a little wayward.

Josh Morris had a difficult first half against Wilfried Zaha but after the break subdued the Palace winger and then took the game to the opposition with a series of runs into the Palace penalty area. After an impressive second-half display at Millwall, Morris continued in similar fashion in this game and whipped in some dangerous crosses which caused Palace problems.

Grant Hanley and Scott Dann generally coped well with the impressive Palace attack. Hanley continues to grow in stature and is now beginning to bring the ball out of defence in a fashion similar to Colin Hendry during his first stint at the Rovers. Dann is a steadying influence at the back since he became captain and is enjoying his best form since joining the Rovers.

In midfield the Rovers seem to have found a hardworking combination in David Jones and Lee Williamson. Both are industrious and keep things ticking over in midfield, which is exactly what seems to be required at this level. Williamson has a decent range of passing and defensively looks sound. Likewise, Jones keeps the ball moving with a pass-and-run style which is simple but effective.

The wide positions in midfield were occupied by David Goodwillie and Joshua King. Goodwillie, in an unfamiliar role, worked hard and tracked back well. He displayed a decent range of passing but often ran into trouble when trying to take the ball forward. An industrious display but without much in the way of end product. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the last couple of games have seen Goodwillie produce some of his best football since arriving at the club.

King, on the other hand, always looked a threat with his electric pace down the left. Joel Ward struggled to handle him and was rather fortunate to stay on the field after a succession of fouls in the second half. Once again, the end product was not always there, but this was a much improved performance by King and suggests that his pace may well be a valuable asset next season.

Nuno Gomes, the veteran Portuguese international, had a disappointing afternoon and made little or no impression during the first half. Although playing in the hole, supporting Rhodes, he struggled to get into the game and too many of his passes went astray. It was no surprise that he was replaced by Morten Gamst Pedersen at the start of the second half.

The introduction of Pedersen certainly seemed to give the Rovers a better balance and the Norwegian international, playing in the centre of midfield, linked up well with King and Morris on the left. His passing was better than of late and his industry in midfield enabled Jones to push forward with Pedersen able to cover defensively. It was a much improved performance from the Norwegian and one which suggests that there should still be a place for him in the Rovers squad for next season.

Once again, Jordan Rhodes demonstrated his instinctive finishing ability with another superb goal. On the day that he was awarded the Player of the Year award it was fitting that he should produce such an exquisite finish. In fairness, Palace kept him fairly quiet apart from the goal, but given half a chance he made the most of it.

On Monday the circus will again move to the High Court and one waits with baited breath for the latest revelations of a club which is deemed to be out of control by the owners. Meanwhile, Gary Bowyer and his players will continue to prepare for the final match at Birmingham City on Saturday. One suspects that all Rovers fans will be only too happy to bring the curtain down on what has been a traumatic season.


Blackburn Rovers

Grzegorz Sandomierski; Todd Kane, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Josh Morris; David Goodwillie, Lee Williamson, David Jones, Joshua King (Cameron Stewart 90); Nuno Gomes (Morten Gamst Pedersen 46); Jordan Rhodes
Subs not used: Sebastian Usai (gk), Karim Rekik, Danny Murphy, David Bentley, John O'Sullivan
Caretaker Manager: Gary Bowyer

Crystal Palace

Julian Speroni; Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey; Wilfried Zaha, Mile Jedinak, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Stephen Dobbie (Owen Garvan 65); Aaron Wilbraham (Jonathan Williams 55), Glenn Murray
Subs not used: Lewis Price (gk), Yannick Bolasie, Kevin Phillips, Peter Ramage, Andre Moritz
Manager: Ian Holloway


Blackburn Rovers – None

Crystal Palace – Joel Ward

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