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Rovers 0  Villa 2


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Apologies to all those who took my advice in the news editorial Christmas Fixtures, to forget Christmas shopping and to go and watch Rovers instead. This afternoons display must have been the worst performance by a Rovers team since Blackburn appointed Graeme Souness as manager.

With games being called off throughout the country, due to atrocious weather conditions, around 21,000 football supporters braved their way to Ewood Park. Unfortunately Rovers players must have been under the impression that the game at Ewood had also been called off as the only people that bothered to turn up were Villa and the PAYING public

With the foodlights on even during the warm up,due to the blackened sky and lashing rain, there was a subdued atmosphere at Ewood Park, with many a supporter puzzled at the team selection.

Rovers kicked off with Cole & Yorke up front and no recognised left back With the out of form Gresko having been dropped, Lucas Neill started at left back with Paul Gallagher moving to the left midfield spot vacated by Neill. Even the uneducated in football technicalities could soon spot the weakness as Neill continually drifted inside in order to use his preferred right foot and Gallagher being of little use in providing cover for Neill, Villa mounted continued attacks down their right hand flank. Although this was a problem,  this wasn’t the only weakness as Villa took command of midfield, Rovers reverted to continually pumped high balls up field to Cole and Yorke, that were easily cleared by the impressive Dublin and Mellberg.

Although Villa were the dominant team Rovers had sporadic attacks, when not terminated by a flag happy referees assistant, with Gallagher taking every opportunity possible to get a shot or cross in, however this was leaving Neill exposed and to be honest Gallagher was a liability when he did venture back to help the defence.

Villa should have gone in at half time in the lead after Neill's mistake let in Lee Hendrie, however Friedel came to the rescue in the one to one challenge with Hendrie.

The obvious weakness on the left side was resolved at half time when Gallagher was replaced by Gresko, who slotted in to his familiar left back position, allowing Neill to move into midfield.

However on the hour mark Rovers defence must have been thinking of their Christmas festivities and presented Villa’s Moore with an early Christmas present. This should have woken Rovers up but 15 minutes later Villa doubled their lead when in form Angel met Vassell’s cross giving Friedel no chance from close range.

With Rovers continuing to play the ball sideways and back towards their own defence, they caused no threat to the Villa defence, resulting in frustrating fans drifting away early.

If I was to score players on their performance this afternoon, it would be difficult to identify the chief culprits as none of them appeared committed to the cause, for even those normally associated with putting in 100 per cent effort had dropped their heads before the final whistle.

Final Score : Rovers 0 Villa 2.

Edited by Alan75 21.12.2003

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