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Old Blackburnian's View - Pt 15 - Adarabioyo Rises To The Challenge

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A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column

Adarabioyo Rises To The Challenge

The fireworks were scheduled for 5:10pm but in reality, they started closer to 4:50pm when Wednesday substitute Jacob Murphy nodded home from close range and set off delirious celebrations in the upper tier of the Darwen End, just the upper tier note. I struggle to think of any circumstances under which asking £40 plus to watch a Championship fixture is justifiable, clearly several thousand Wednesday fans thought similarly.

It was set up by former Claret Steven Fletcher, a nuisance for Rovers all afternoon, beating Walton to a near-post cross but only able to deflect it onto the bar, Murphy finished the job from a metre out. At that precise moment, any hopes that Rovers had for resurrection of their season seemed fit only to top one of the bonfires planned for later on Saturday night. 

It had been a dispiriting week, the Preston result forcing even Tony Mowbray’s staunchest admirers to reassess just what the future might hold. Another relegation would surely be cataclysmic for a club still coming to terms with its post-Premier League fate. Twenty years ago, almost to the day, Jack Walker lost patience with Brian Kidd following a seven-game winless run and the speculation was mounting that Mowbray might soon meet a similar fate.

However, structures seem more stable around Ewood Park these days, with knee-jerk reactions much less likely; but for all that, a win would help to dowse the bonfire of criticism aimed at Mowbray. Pre-season expectations varied significantly across the fanbase, some expecting play-off contention, some content with modest improvement but hardly anyone predicted a relegation battle. 

In a week where Netflix announced that they had been trialling software to allow viewers to watch films at 1.5x speed, the first half at Ewood had you longing for such a gadget for use in real-life. Reducing the “spectacle” to 30 minutes would have been a popular option such was the paucity of entertainment. The atmosphere in the ground was in parts of that first half, quieter than during the pre-match period of remembrance, sullied as it was by some unseemly noise emanating from the Darwen End. Charging those particular loons £40 for their tickets didn’t seem such bad idea at that point.

Much like a jigsaw puzzle afficionado, Wednesday collected a series of corners but they failed to convert their pressure into clear chances and so praise must be handed out to Rovers latest defensive formation. Initially, it seemed to be a three when attacking, four when defending, but it soon settled down as a flat four with Williams wide left and the inexorable Bennett slotting in at right back. The stand-out performer in that first-half was the on-loan youngster Tosin Adarabioyo. His calmness in possession, desire to play it on the grass, to split the opponent’s lines with his passes and to treat possession of the football with the highest of respect marks him out as a player who has evidently received coaching of the highest quality.

The half-time whistle was something of a relief, a chance to re-group and re-think and start anew in the second; for the fans as well for that matter. It was Garry Monk who blinked first, introducing Forestieri. Soon afterwards, the predictable reply from Rovers was to turn to Danny Graham, a man whose lustrous, bushy beard appears to signify a dearth of offers for razor sponsorship deals. Sam Gallagher suffered a knock but it might have been the preferred tactical change in any event.

A Rovers attack with Graham at its fulcrum still looks the best option for Tony Mowbray; unless and until Sam Gallagher can reproduce that opening 25 minutes at Deepdale across 90 minutes and on a regular basis. With Joe Rothwell joining Graham a few minutes later and disrupting the midfield with his high intensity running and dribbling, the game finally sparked into life. Keiren Westwood in the Wednesday goal, himself no ally of Gillette it seems, demonstrated that goalkeepers mature with age like a fine port and two impressive saves from Travis and Rothwell in short order seemed to suggest that a goalless draw was to be the height of Rovers aspirations. 

The intervention of Fletcher & Murphy, sounding for all the world like the names of a brace of springer spaniel pups, seemed to have marked Rovers cards and the ground braced itself. Which is when Tony Mowbray threw on young John Buckley for the veteran Downing, presumably in the hope that his youthful endeavour could contrive a chance where Downing’s experience had been unable. 

Buckley entered the fray carrying a note which was passed to Adarabioyo. Much speculation ensued on social media as to the contents but frankly, even if it did say “Score two lads” as one wag on Twitter suggested, it did the trick. With just two minutes of regulation time remaining, Bennett flighted a delightful free kick into the box, Adarabioyo used his physical presence once more, this time as an attacking force and looped a lovely header over the previously invincible Westwood, ostensibly it appeared to save a point. Well surely that’s what most of us thought? Except for John Buckley...

Three minutes later, more Rovers pressure resulted in Dack & Graham reforming their tried and tested partnership, a horrible slice by Börner left Danny Graham with time and space in the box to set up Rothwell. He wanted a touch too many and Börner seemed to have atoned by sliding in to clear the ball, but only to the feet of Buckley, who needed no second bidding to shoot and via a kindly deflection off the left leg of the hapless...yup, Börner again, wrong footed Westwood, to make it 2-1 and initiate delirious celebrations.

Much has been made of Rovers recent inability to retrieve lost causes and/or score late goals; all too often being on the wrong end of astonishing comebacks (just last week for instance) but this was as welcoming as a potato pie supper, followed by parkin and treacle toffee; nourishing, warming, then ultimately sweet.

Naturally, the remainder of stoppage time was still sufficient for the Owls to hit the post following a deflection from that man Adarabioyo again and Rovers needed a fine save from Walton to keep out the follow up. The impromptu on-field firework display was over, just the off-field ones to enjoy now. 

Crisis averted, at least temporarily; zero without a win. Leeds Utd away up next, if ever there was a place to stage another comeback in stoppage time...

 

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1 hour ago, Tyrone Shoelaces said:

Very good, I enjoyed that. Makes a change from reading about defeats.

Cheers...🙂 nicer to write about them for sure...👍🏻

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How the hell was it a knee jerk reaction to fire Kidd? He was lucky he got so long. More stable structure now than then? Ludicrous insult.

Only good thing about this column is the predecessor was 100 times worse.

Edited by Vinjay17

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9 hours ago, Vinjay17 said:

How the hell was it a knee jerk reaction to fire Kidd? He was lucky he got so long. More stable structure now than then? Ludicrous insult.

Only good thing about this column is the predecessor was 100 times worse.

I see how you read that, it wasn’t really what I meant TBH - I was meaning Berg, Appleton etc & Venky’s less likely to pull the trigger these days.

 

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