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  1. PLAYER WATCH v Birmingham City (A) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ******* ** 9 Brown *************** *********** 4 Ayala **************** ***** 14 Wharton ******************** ***** 21 Pickering ******************* ****** 15 Travis *************** ************** 3 Buckley ******************* ******* 23 Edun (45) **** ****** -6 Hedges **************** ******** 10 Gallagher (76) *************** ********* 10 Diaz (65) ***** **** 7 Dack (45) * * 0 Markanday (65) *** *** 0 Vale (76) ***** * 5 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Tony’s farewell? He’s decided not to pick players who have not committed to the club next year. Players “out of contract” or on loan will not feature…….unless we run out of numbers. James Brown makes his debut. Markanday and Vale (fresh from his 4 goals for the U23s) are on the bench. Kaminski Brown Ayala Wharton Pickering Travis Edun Hedges Buckley Gallagher Diaz 01 A first touch for Brown as he competes with the winger for a loose ball but the winger outmuscles him and gets in a cross …… it’s a bit too long. 04 The first of those infuriating offside situations where Pickering fires a nice long ball down the channels but Diaz has misjudged it. 05 Good challenge from Brown as he takes the ball off the attacker. Now he makes a clearance against the City man and it’s out for a goal-kick. 06 Some nice approach play from Rovers and Pickering lobs the ball to Gallagher, on the penalty spot but it’s a little bit behind him and he doesn’t connect perfectly with his attempted left-footed volley……. it goes straight into the keeper’s arms. 09 Travis jockeys James well and directs him to the wing but when James lays it off, Travis doesn’t stay with him and James runs to the byline and puts in a dangerous cross. Fortunately there’s no one there and Hedges nudges it to safety, out for a throw. 12 Brown wins another challenge on the wing and comes away with the ball. From our half Buckley fires a lovely long ball to Hedges on the right wing. He brings it down nicely on his thigh, cuts inside his marker and from 18 yards out crosses to Diaz on the penalty spot but Ben’s glancing header is a poor contact and the chance is gone. He did get into a great position though, moving in front of his marker neatly! 13 I’ve had a bit of a bee in my bonnet through all the recent defensive failures…..bring back Ayala - who was a rock in the first half of the season, helping to organise the defence and, as here, putting in commanding aerial challenges which send the ball half the length of the pitch! 14 the wily Hernandez tries to kick and rush past Brown but The Rovers man is good enough and comes away with the ball. 15 Pickering is challenged to a foot race by Chong but again the Rover wins the ball. 21 A nice crossfield pass from Diaz to Hedges on the right wing. He takes it forward and fires in a powerful shot from 20 yards but the keeper beats it away at the near post. 25 Another good clearing header from a City corner by Ayala. Edun miscontrols a bouncing ball and it ricochets ro a City forward but his shot hits Wharton and goes out of play. 26 A poor pass from Edun kills the momentum as we looked to counter-attack. 27 Ayala brings the ball to halfway but his touch is heavy and he loses it. There’s a big hole and City have a great chance to attack. Wharton comes across the box to clear up and it’s out for a throw. From the long throw Ayala is back to what he does best, heading well clear. 28 A lovely turn away from his man and then a good crossfield ball from Buckley to Diaz. He lays off to Hedges who lays it gently back to Buckley, 30 yards out on the right, and he smashes it first time into the top left corner of the net!!! Sensational goal, …..could be goal of the season! The other players are stunned, Hedges is holding his head in disbelief! 33 Hernandez has a head start on Brown as they chase a ball down the wing but Brown gets back to get a foot in and hold him up and the City momentum is lost. Then there’s a poor pass by Pickering followed by another from Edun. 35 This time it’s Hedges who plays the poor pass. Now it’s Wharton and it’s a City corner. 38 Gallagher is first to a loose ball in the corner of the City box. He flicks the ball beautifully through to Hedges, in the clear 12 yards out, but his shot hits the top of the bar. He should have scored. Hedges holds his head again! I think he panicked! 40 This time Hernandez is far too good for Brown and runs rings around him. He passes to Bacuna but his shot is weak and off-target. 41 A bad foul by Edun near the flag and it’s a yellow card. 44 Pickering picks up a loose ball 30 yards out. You have to see this……he offloads casually to Diaz. He’s level with the left edge of the box 25 yards out with a man in front of him. He unfurls the most outrageous inswinging, dipping shot over the startled keeper and into the top right corner of the net. Absolutely no one was expecting that! Fabulous goal and put that down as another contender for goal of the season! This time both Pickering and Hedges have their hands to their faces in wonder! Beam me up Scotty! 45 Edun off, Dack on. 47 It’s a City corner and Pickering loses Taylor who heads the ball towards the top left corner from about 3 yards but somehow Kaminski gets a hand to it! Great save. 48 Bacuna beats Travis comprehensively on the edge of the box, then Buckley has a go…then Travis again and finally the City man is over-crowded and gives up the goal-kick. 58 Pickering receives the ball 30 yards out and runs forward before back-heeling to Diaz who shoots from 20 yards. It’s all along the floor and the keeper flings himself horizontal to parry away. Gallagher chases the rebound but he was offside. 59 Another of those fancy flicks from Hedges but Gallagher isn’t good enough to return the ball. 60 Henandez is too good for Brown this time but Ayala is there to block him out on the byline. Goal-kick. 61 Some fancy footwork from Hernandez beats Travis but Brown slides in effectively to concede the throw. 64 Gallagher, near the centre-circle, wins a long ball flick-on. There’s some sloppy play from City and Gallagher picks up the loose ball and tries to slip it into the box for Hedges. A defender gets a foot in but it still runs for Hedges and near the right corner of the 6 yard box, he tries to lob the out-rushing keeper but it’s saved. Brown loses out to Hernandez but Buckley puts in one of those deceptively effective challenges to dispossess him. John’s been very quiet this half. 65 Diaz off, Markanday on. 74 A good chase back by Brown as he gets in an important challenge on Hernandez. Oh! I thought that was a good robust challenge by Ayala but it’s ruled a foul….just outside the D! Taylor puts it over the bar. 76 Gallagher off, Vale on. Vale blocks out for a throw-in. 77 Pedersen receives the ball just inside our half, on the City left. Markanday is too lethargic as he strolls by. Travis loses James who receives Pedersen’s short pass; he plays a 1-2 back to Pedersen and Buckley’s challenge is powerpuff. He then pokes the ball beyond Ayala into the box. Wharton looks favourite but the City man is more determined, he gets there first and puts the ball into the far right corner. A quality goal in all honesty. 79 Brown misjudges a ball down the wing, ends up on his backside and Hernandez collects near the flag. To be fair, Brown gets back and blocks the City man’s cross out for a corner. 81 Unusual! We get an indirect free kick just inside their box for the goalie picking up a backpass! Buckley taps to Dack but his shot hits the wall. 84 A nice flick from Dack down the wing and Vale puts his cross square across the 6 yard box but there’s no Rover around. 86 Buckley, near halfway, lobs an inch perfect pass to Markanday on the left of the D. After a bit of fancy footwork he squares 10 yards out but there’s no one there. 87 Vale wins a challenge midway in the City half, Hedges slips a neat ball to Markanday and he’s clear one on one. The goalie rushes out and spreads himself to save Markanday’s shot. He should have done better there! Brown’s attempted forward ball hits a City man and rebounds dangerously. Bellingham takes it forward. Brown rushes back and Bellingham’s quick turn puts Brown on his backside just outside the D. His shot rolls wide of the right post. 91 Brown miscontrols a long hoof downfield and concedes the corner. Kaminski punches clear. 94 The final, final whistle goes. Ultimately it was a disappointing end of season which, at one time, seemed so promising. Nevertheless, we are Rovers fans and we learn to endure it. Players come and players go and today we got a glimpse of a future Rovers side. It wasn’t too bad was it? Anyway what keeps us coming back is always the tantalising dream that next season will be the one…..definitely! O.k. that’s all from me. For the folks that have stuck with me over the season, thanks for reading and thanks for the encouraging comments…… I’ve enjoyed your company. Maybe I’ll see you next time?
  2. Does anyone know any coaches going from Blackburn/Darwen with spaces free for the Birmingham game?
  3. Today is the 10th anniversary of our relegation from the Premier League on that awful night against Wigan. The last decade has been, in my view pretty awful with very few highs and a multitude of lows. The lost fans, financial mismanagement, awful administrators, poor managers and players along with lots of other facets which none of us ever thought we would ever see. Step forward Venkys. Thanks for nothing.
  4. How will we be feeling at 5pm ? Will there still be a dream to chase ? Will Joe Rothwell travel back in Bournemouth’s team coach ?
  5. PLAYER WATCH v Bournemouth (H) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ***** *** 5 Lenihan **************** ********** 8 van Hecke ***************** *************** 4 Wharton ********* ********** -4 Pickering **************** ***** 15 Travis ******* ****** -1 Buckley ********* *** 4 Rothwell (59) ******** ******** 1 Hedges (59) ********* **** 6 Gallagher (67) *********** ** 10 Diaz ********* ****** 5 Poveda (59) **** ** 1 Dolan (59) ** *** -4 Dack (67) ** **** -2 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Well, the dream is hanging on by the tiniest of mathematical possibilities. We have to win everything and our closest rivals have to win zippo. Same team as last time when we hammered PNE. 04 Commentators saying that Bournemouth have 25, 13 and almost 20 million pound players on show! 07 Danger! A throw down their left wing sees Solanke outpace van Hecke but our new Player of the Season gets back and dispossesses him in that seemingly effortless way of his. He hits it to Hedges on the right wing but he is dispossessed too and the Cherries man squares into the box where van Hecke is there again to clear. 08 It eventually results in a free kick for us near halfway and Gallagher takes it quickly, firing it forwards for Diaz to chase but it’s not quite good enough and Diaz can’t bring the ball under control. Nice idea though. 12 Solanke turns Wharton too easily and he’s away, Travis gets a foot in but Billing gets the ball and heads to the box. He pulls the ball back and puts Pickering on his backside but van Hecke stays with him and gets in the crucial block as Billing shoots. Good chance for the Cherries there. 14 A long ball from Bournemouth goes over our defence, Wharton is behind the play and barges into the attacker on the edge of the box. Yellow card! The free kick is on the left side of the D. Billing hits Travis in the wall and it goes for a corner. Bournemouth are trying to claim a penalty! The corner is long and Wharton has lost his man. Travis mis-kicks his chance to clear and it’s chaos but Lenihan hoofs it out of the box. 18 Bournemouth continue to look dangerous. Christie puts it into the box and we are at 6s and 7s. Buckley gets a foot in but there’s no relief. Rothwell gives the ball away and then Buckley brings down Cook midway in our half. It comes to nothing, fortunately. 20 A Bournemouth man brings it out from deep and launches a high long ball midway into our half and the defence is asleep. Van Hecke and especially Wharton have lost their men. Billing, unchallenged, heads it to the totally unmarked Solanke who sidefoots it expertly past Kaminski from 12 yards. Rovers are claiming offside but Lenihan was playing them all onside. Poor, poor defending all round. It had been coming. Travis and van Hecke are having a go at each other. 22 Here they come again and van Hecke robs Billing, just outside the box, as it was looking dangerous again. 25 Lenihan sends in a cross and Gallagher gets up and heads towards goal but it’s tortoise pace and the goalie dives and palms it round the post. 27 Just inside the Rovers half, Lenihan plays a beautiful in-swinging ball down the right wing, behind the defence, for Diaz to chase. He takes it into the box and lets loose near the corner of the 6 yard box but it hits the outside of the right post. A good run by Ben but a disappointing ending….the angle was narrowing all the time. Ben hasn’t scored this calendar year at Ewood. 28 Bournemouth come again down their left wing. First Lenihan is beaten, then Hedges, then van Hecke on the corner of the box. Billing squares to Solanke on the penalty spot but is shot is deflected fortuitously into the arms of Kaminski by a combination of van Hecke and Pickering. 31 Bournemouth are liking their left wing as another attack arrives. Zemura squares the ball into the box past 3 or 4 players to Solanke near the penalty spot. Wharton gets in half a challenge….enough to make Solanke re-think and pass back to Anthony on the edge of the box and his shot crashes against the top of the bar with Kaminski beaten! It’s all too easy for Bournemouth and we are lucky to only be one down. Neither Lenihan nor Rothwell did enough in that build up. 32 Dear dear, we are being made to look second rate here. 36 The commentator says that Mowbray’s 5 year stint will be remembered “quite fondly”! His colleague agrees and says Tony can leave with his head held high! 39 Hedges mis-controls and as the challenge comes in, he’s booked for diving. Rather harsh I think. 44 Another wasted short corner. Why do we do that? 46 Rothwell puts a speculative left-footed shot well over the bar. Lenihan wins 4 aerial challenges in a row! The whistle goes for half-time. 47 Rovers continue to pass side to side in Bournemouth’s half with no spark of inspiration or attacking intent. Hedges, on the right wing, can’t get a cross in as he has to turn back each time to get the ball on his good left foot. Pickering has lofted a couple of half-decent balls into the box but that's it. Oh! Diaz makes a good run infield from the left wing and feeds Hedges on the edge of the box. He gets it back to Diaz who skips past a defender and fires in a shot from the left corner of the 6 yard box but it’s narrow again and the keeper blocks at the near post. Now Buckley commits his regular “yellow card” poor tackle to pass the initiative back to the Cherries. As Tyrone pointed out last time….we are at the bottom of the disciplinary charts in the Championship! How is that possible when our aggression levels are as low as I can remember them? 50 Now van Hecke leaps in recklessly, near halfway, and it’s another yellow card. The crowd is a creditable 21396. 56 Zemura goes past Hedges, Lenihan and Travis; he heads into the box and outpaces van Hecke embarrassingly. He reaches the 6 yard box but he’s narrow and Kaminski saves at the near post. It rebounds to Lerma 10 yards out with the goal gaping but Pickering slides in to make a fantastic save on the line. Another massive let-off. 58 Rothwell goes on one of his runs into the middle of the Bournemouth half before releasing a lovely ball for Diaz to chase into the left channel. He’s in behind the defender and runs into the box but again he’s wide and his shot is blocked at the near post. Gallagher and Hedges were well-placed in the middle….squaring would have been a better option. 59 Hedges and Rothwell off, Poveda and Dolan on. 66 Bournemouth have us all worked out as we continue to pass back and forth across the field just inside their half. No more Preston derring-do, we don’t seem to have a clue how to break them down. Oh my! Solanke leaves Wharton for dead. He beats van Hecke and Wharton again as the 2 Rovers fall over each other! There’s only Kaminski to beat but from 14 yards Kaminski puts in a great save. We can’t handle these guys at the moment! 67 Gallagher off, Dack on. 69 Christie finds Dembele in acres of space on their left. Van Hecke brings him down recklessly but the ref plays advantage. Solanke casually jogs with the ball into the box. Lenihan and van Hecke front up but Solanke simply slips the ball between the 2 of them to the incoming Billing who smashes home from 10 yards. There were FIVE defenders in the box and every one of them had eyes only for Solanke. No one saw the danger man arriving - Pickering was too slow to react. It was all too easy and sadly inevitable. There’s some confusion about whether van Hecke has received a second yellow but he’s still on the pitch! 73 Travis puts in a good cross from the right wing to Dack, in the box, 10 yards out. Dack controls, turns and shoots but he’s tightly marked and the defender deflects out for a corner. Pickering takes but it’s poor. 77 A nice ball forward from Lenihan but Diaz is offside. A long ball comes forward from Bournemouth and Wharton is beaten in the air by Billing. Pickering gets a head to it before Solanke but Wharton gets the ball tangled in his legs and Dembele comes away with it, he nutmegs van Hecke and the ball is on a plate for Billing again, he fires past Kaminski from 11 yards inside the left post. Game over. Many fans have decided that’s enough as they head for the exit. The remaining fans blast out “Rovers till I die” in defiance. 81 Another nice chip into the box by Lenihan to Dack but he’s offside this time. 83 Our lack of ideas going forward is highlighted now by Dack continually dropping back into our half to get a sniff of the ball! 84 Dack flicks a nice ball over the defence but Diaz lets it hit his back and go out for a goal-kick. He was offside again anyway. 86 Oh! Dack is dropping even further back in his frustration! 87 A bit of neat interplay between Poveda and Dolan on the edge of the box and then Travis falls over in the box claiming a penalty…..errrr…no! 88 Dack, van Hecke and Travis all seem intent on proving that the only way we can stop this lot is by fouling them. Frustration abounds. The final whistle goes. The players walk round the pitch applauding the fans. Later Tony brings out the whole crew including wives and kids but only the very dedicated few are left in the ground. A sad sight in truth. So many blown chances have led to this……it should have been different but …….the way the team are performing right now, any progress beyond here would likely have been embarrassing. Ah well! There’s always next year!
  6. Local derby…pride at stake…bragging rights…*insert cliche of choice here* Let’s look back at a famous clash in days of yore… d
  7. PLAYER WATCH v Preston North End (A) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski **** 9 Lenihan ************************* ***** 37 van Hecke ****************** ** 23 Wharton *********** ** 14 Pickering ********* ******* -1 Travis ************* **** 17 Buckley (86) ************** ******** 14 Rothwell (86) *************** ******* 7 Hedges ******** ******** -1 Gallagher (76) **************** *** 17 Diaz ********* **** 11 Poveda (76) * 2 Dack (86) 0 Edun (86) * 2 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Down to ninth. We’ve gone to a back 4 with Lenihan at right back, then Buckley, Travis and Rothwell with Gallagher, Hedges and Diaz up front. 00 Pickering booked! 01 Rothwell fails to prevent Potts getting in his cross from the byline. Lenihan heads away and Hedges gives away a dumb foul near the flag. Lenihan again heads clear. 05 Buckley receives a throw on halfway and slides a lovely ball through for Hedges to chase. He takes it to the left side of the box but his cross is poor. Diaz manages to get a touch and Travis feeds Rothwell who tries an ambitious shot from outside the box; it’s deflected and the keeper scoops it up. 08 We get a free kick 24 yards out on the left wing. Pickering takes, Diaz, 10 yards out at the near post, gets in a glancing header which flies across goal and hits the right post. Gallagher is quickest to react and launches himself horizontally to head the rebound past the keeper from 4 yards. 1-0. 10 It’s another free kick but 35 yards out. Everyone is lined up along the edge of the box and Rothwell takes. Wharton and the full back chase the header but the Preston man does well to get there first. Corner but this time it’s poor from Rothwell. 11 Pickering and Diaz bring the ball forward and feed Buckley. He takes it forward and from 30 yards unleashes a cracker along the floor. It’s deflected slightly and streaks inside the right hand post. John’s second of the season. EIEIEIO rumbles around the stadium. 14 Blimey, that’s a new dimension to our full-back play from Lenihan…..aggression! First he dominates an aerial challenge and then comes in with a robust tackle. I like it! 16 Some nice interplay from Rovers just outside the Preston box and Travis slips it to Hedges on the penalty spot but it hits his heel and rebounds. Travis perseveres and it runs to Hedges again, 10 yards out but Johnson puts in a full-blooded tackle just as he’s about to shoot and the ball squirts away for a corner. I thought it looked a good tackle at first glance but on replay there’s a decent shout for a penalty! Most of the Rovers’ Players think so! 20 Another sloppy foul and yellow card for Gallagher. 22 Some nice 1-2 football from Rovers. 27 A nice crossfield pass from Buckley to Diaz….who is offside. 28 For the first time Preston are putting a few passes together. Rovers are pressing but can’t get the ball. Cunningham receives the ball 30 yards out. Travis misses his tackle and ends up on his backside. Pickering, in the box, has left the whole of the wing exposed and is marking nobody. The ball goes out to Browne who moves easily round Pickering and fires towards goal - it hits Wharton’s head and deflects past Kaminski. Too easy! I knew it was too good to be true. 33 Another chance for Preston but Cunningham makes a mess of the cross near the left post and it goes for a goal kick. It was half a chance. 34 I don’t like the Rovers players crowding the ref, demanding that he book one of the opponents. It seems soft. 36 Lenihan wins his header on the wing and Hedges is fouled 25 yards out. (That must be the 3rd or 4th time Hedges has been fouled!) Rothwell takes and Lenihan on the left corner of the 6 yard box rises unchallenged and heads back across goal and into the net! Not a thunderbolt but a well-placed looper by Darragh. 38 Potts runs down their right wing and Pickering can’t stop the cross. Travis is haring back into the box, he can’t get out of the way, and volleys the ball towards goal!!! Kaminski makes a good save to spare Travis’s blushes! His best effort on goal all season! (Edit - see later!) 40 It’s all Preston! They attack down their right again and van Hecke can’t prevent the ball coming into the box. Johnson is unmarked 14 yards out but Lenihan blocks the shot! Close! 47 Good tight pressing from every Rover in the Preston half. Buckley, Diaz, Rothwell, Gallagher and Hedges! The whistle goes on the best half we’ve seen for many a long while. Good grief if it continues like this, we could be back in the mix! It’s too much to ponder! 46 Gallagher is winning a lot of long ball flick-ons today. 51 We get a throw, 20 yards out on the left. Diaz receives and meanders his way cross field before slipping a beautiful ball through to the on-rushing Travis, in space 25 yards out. His first touch is perfect and he weaves his way into the box between 2 defenders before side-footing the ball past the keeper into the bottom right corner. A perfect striker’s finish. His first for 2 years and he knee-slides over to the fans to celebrate! 58 A Preston corner and Rothwell on the near post flicks a header behind him, right across the face of the goal. A Preston man heads it against Johnson and it falls perfectly for Jakobsen on the 6 yard line. His shot is brilliantly blocked by Kaminski on pure instinct. He gives a double fist-pump. 59 High booted challenge by Buckley 27 yards out and dangerous. 61 Yellow card for Whiteman’s challenge on Rothwell. Now Rothwell passes a ball to Diaz on the wing. It goes over his head and Diaz tries to catch it! The Preston players are demanding a yellow card for handball! I mean, what’s that all about? It used to be a man’s game! 62 Buckley might have earned the hook now. Another poor challenge 30 yards out and it’s yellow. He’s turned sloppy all of a sudden. 65 Preston are having a bright spot right now. 66 Now Lenihan picks up the ball and drives down the wing. He puts a great ball behind the whole defence for Gallagher to chase. He picks up at the right corner of the box and goes on. He’s 10 yards out but wide right and his shot is comfortably saved low at the near post. It was a very good run from Gallagher but a disappointing end. It’s a corner. 72 Ole ringing around the ground as Rovers pass the ball confidently from side to side. 73 Whiteman goes through the back of Buckley but John lays it off nicely anyway. More neat inter-passing and Lenihan gets it on the wing before swinging in a nice cross to Diaz 8 yards out but his header loops on to the top of the bar. Credit to Ben for getting there but the finish was a bit disappointing in truth. 76 Whiteman clatters into the back of Buckley again!! Very nasty. Hmm, Gallagher is sat down too. Sam off, Poveda on! 81 Buckley seems back to normal now. Nice flick there. 88 A tired attempted challenge by Hedges allows the Preston man to square into the box. It’s crowded in there but some kind of weak shot comes in (Travis managed to get an important foot in) and van Hecke blocks and tidies up. 94 Final whistle and we’re up to 7th with a nice boost to our goal difference. Well, I can still dream can’t I? It’s part of the pain of being a Rovers fan. That’s the best performance since that brilliant run. Where has this team been hiding? Passion, skill and ……for heaven’s sake….goals! Two to go.
  8. Rovers “entertain” the Potters at Ewood…please feel free to add observations, thoughts & predictions here…
  9. Hey guys if you havent seen this its a must, very interesting podcast with Chris Brown as well, Ben talks about his life and why he quit professional football, quite a bit about his time at rovers, Mentions Bowyer being very paranoid and Coyle as absolutely useless but a nice guy, its on you tube. two other guys doing the interviewing no idea who they are, seems the Legion (Ben and Co) were on the piss quite a lot during his/their time at rovers, makes me wonder why we never got to the playoffs with that team, anyway make your own mind up and leave comments. Its also quite funny. You get to know the characters Pearson and Pulis etc.
  10. PLAYER WATCH v Stoke City (H) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ***** * 4 Nyambe ************* **** 15 Lenihan *************** ***** 18 van Hecke (45) ****** ******* -4 Wharton ********** ************* -4 Pickering *************** ********* 15 Travis ************** ****** 13 Johnson (66) ***** ********** -5 Dolan (74) *** ****** -4 Gallagher ****************** ****** 20 Diaz ******** ****** 0 Rothwell (45) ****** *** 6 Buckley (66) ******* * 9 Hedges (74) ***** * 7 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) The teams around us keep losing so we are still floating around the top 6 remarkably. Stoke in mid-table have nothing to play for so we’ll be OK today. 03 It’s a simple ball slipped through the middle to Brown 35 yards out. Wharton is on him but somehow lets him turn and run clear. Kaminski comes out to meet him but from the edge of the box Brown slides the ball past him and into the net. Terrible defending. 09 Stoke are passing around with confidence. We can’t get the ball and when we do we lose it. Also we are conceding an alarming number of free kicks. Lenihan is the culprit this time. 15 Devoid of ideas as we pass the ball back and forth (mainly back) around the halfway line. 19 The 2nd or 3rd poor foul by Wharton. 23 Pickering is taking all the set-pieces today. Here he puts a decent ball into the Stoke box. Wharton and van Hecke go for the ball and head each other. 25 Stoke are happy to stroll around with the ball at the back and there’s absolutely no pressing from Rovers. 29 Rovers lack ambition; under no pressure we go from halfway to Kaminski when Nyambe was the only man in our half! 31 Another Wharton rugby tackle earns him a yellow card. He was turned too easily by Brown.. 33 This time it’s van Hecke who can’t handle Brown. Foul on halfway and another yellow card. 36 Another nice delivery from Pickering from the corner. Van Hecke is in space but his header is well over. Disappointing. 37 Oh dear! Van Hecke is beaten again and resorts to pulling the man down. Lucky not to receive a second yellow…..much worse than Edun’s efforts last game. He has a tendency to lose his head JP. 39 Johnson fires the ball forward but it’s intercepted. It doesn’t matter though as both Diaz and Gallagher were offside! 42 Dolan slides the ball to Diaz on the right wing and he miscontrols but Bellis slips and Ben heads to the box. It’s a good run but he’s wide and his shot from a narrow angle is saved at the near post. 43 Diaz, at the near post heads a Stoke corner straight to a City man on the penalty spot. Lenihan is the only Rover to react and as he slides in the ball is blocked for another corner which Diaz heads out of the box this time. 46 A good strong run by Gallagher deep into the box but there’s too many defenders and he loses the ball. Half time and Pickering throws the ball into the ground. Frustration abounds. Boos ring around Ewood and this shadow of a team looks broken. 45 Rothwell on, van Hecke off….to save him from an inevitable red card! 46 Dolan dives. 53 Travis gets a chance to shoot from just outside the box but there’s a reason he hasn’t scored forever and the ball sails 10 yards wide. 54 At last some neat interplay between Rothwell, Travis and Gallagher and Sam steams off towards the box again but as before he is dispossessed. 55 Stoke cuts us apart again and Nyambe just gets a foot in to put the City man off his shot. 67 We get a free kick 32 yards out and Diaz is standing in a blatantly offside position….so it’s all a waste! 69 Buckley somehow manages to survive a couple of robust challenges and Diaz lays the ball off nicely to Pickering on the wing. He puts in another good cross and Gallagher rises above the Stoke man 10 yards out. His header is brilliantly saved by the keeper just under the bar. The ball comes to an unmarked Travis on the edge of the box who performs his usual Row T mis-shot. 71 Buckley has definitely made a difference. A nice little run here but it went just over the byline. 72 Dolan, for some reason, tries to lob a harmless ball goalwards from just outside the box. It’s well over. Then he falls over again. He’s having another poor game. 74 Dolan is put out of his misery. He’s off and Hedges is on. Some nice footwork from Hedges around their box followed by a cross square through the penalty spot but there’s no one there. 75 A nice ball from Rothwell to Gallagher just to the left of the box. Sam sends it square into the box but it seemed to bounce off Hedges’ legs! 76 A lovely ball from Buckley into the box on to Gallagher’s chest but he’s offside! 80 Lenihan loses out to Bidace and Brown eventually gets the ball on their right. His cross comes in; there’s 4 men in the goalmouth, Wharton misses it and the rest fall down! It hit Maja I think but Nyambe somehow got his foot to it first! Comedy hour! Rothwell runs the ball out of the box and Hedges performs a delightful backflick to Travis and he feeds Gallagher near halfway. Sam’s off, he does a quick 1-2 with Hedges and fires in a decent shot from 25 yards but the goalie saves at his near post at the 2nd attempt. 82 A nice block in our box by Travis. 83 Buckley threads a neat ball down the left wing to Gallagher’s feet, midway in the Stoke half, and Sam’s steaming away and into the box again. This time he fires in his shot from a narrow angle and it scrapes the top of the bar! He’s having quite a game today. Worthy of an equaliser that one. 88 Rovers’ defence is stretched and Brown receives and moves into the box before firing his shot at goal but it’s at Kaminski and he parries it back to Brown and this time his shot hits Lenihan’s arm. No penalty! Fortunate. 90 Diaz offside again! 91 Travis from 28 yards lofts a ball into the box and Hedges, 9 yards out, gets a good glancing header on target inside the left post but the keeper is equal to it and pulls off an excellent diving save. Diaz hits the rebound into the side-netting. 94 The final whistle goes along with any dreams we may have been holding on to. Killed by another terrible first half. A very unhappy Easter!
  11. PLAYER WATCH v Peterborough (A) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ******* * 16 Nyambe(42) ** *** -2 Lenihan **************************** ************ 21 van Hecke ******************** ************ 11 Wharton *************** ******** 12 Giles ******** ******* 1 Travis *********** **** 10 Buckley (71) ****** ******** -2 Edun (40) ******* ****** -4 Gallagher (45) ****** *** 4 Diaz ******** ****** 9 Johnson (42) ********* *** 8 Dack (45) * ** -1 Dolan (71) * ** -2 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Posh have won 6 games this season. Nothing to fear here! 02 Diaz, in the box, controls the incoming ball on his thigh and swivels to fire just over the bar. Decent effort. 03 A lapse in concentration by Wharton forces him to concede a corner. 04 Giles gives the ball away near our box but the Posh shot is wide. 07 Travis picks up the ball and is a bit lucky to wriggle past 2 defenders to the edge of the box. He squares it to Gallagher who hits it first time along the floor (firmly but central) and the goalie goes down to parry it away well. 10 Lenihan is drawn forward and the ball ends up looping over him to the edge of the box where van Hecke only manages to head the ball to the feet of the on-rushing Posh man, 12 yards out but Kaminski is there to save us again by blocking his miscued shot. Bad miss in truth. 14 More comedy defending as another Posh man tests Kaminski. Tell me how our previously impenetrable back 5 has degenerated into this shambles? 21 Gallagher manages to get the better of Kent 30 yards out as Buckley’s looped pass comes towards him but he’s pulled down as he tries to run to goal. No foul! Poor decision….arguably could have been red as he may have been the last defender? Now Diaz loses control and as Knight sets off on a run, Edun clips him to the floor. A soft yellow card. 22 More unconvincing defending as Kaminski collects another Peterborough shot. 25 More last minute, panicky tackles/touches as we somehow keep hold of the ball. I’m shaking my head. 26 Van Hecke passes straight to a Posh man but fortunately his through ball is poor when our defence was gaping wide. 30 Buckley on the right wing, 20 yards out, sends a perfect ball to Diaz on the 6 yard line and he puts a well-directed header back across goal and into the net. Sadly it’s judged a nudge in the back of the defender by Ben and it’s chalked off. It doesn’t look like there was much contact to me. 32 Now Wharton gets a clear push in the back….no foul! 34 Van Hecke and Lenihan stuff up and Posh attack. Lenihan gets back to cut out the ball 10 yards out but he miscontrols and Szmodics robs him. Fortunately his left-footed shot slides across the face of goal. Terrible defending again but a bad miss too by Posh. 36 Edun loses the ball, Travis is easily beaten and Posh attack down their left wing. The cross arrives to Harris, 12 yards out, who volleys first time into the ground and Kaminski brilliantly paws the ball over the bar. We’re being given a football lesson from the bottom club in the League! 40 Dear dear! Edun receives a pass in our half but he mis-controls and to prevent the Posh man heading for goal he brings him down. Second yellow and off! Both cards seem soft but he did prevent a Peterborough attack each time. 42 Nyambe (sacrificed on his 200th appearance) off, Johnson on, into midfield. 44 Wowee, Posh are stroking the ball around with confidence. Lots of Rovers players showing their frustration. 47 The ref is giving some really soft fouls against us. 45 Gallagher off, Dack on. 47 Posh players are throwing themselves on the floor. Harris this time. 51 A Dack free-kick 20 yards out, just to the left of the D. Straight into the wall. 52 But it’s a corner. Van Hecke gets a touch and Lenihan, from the byline, hammers in a square cross. It ricochets into the air and a defender heads out for another corner. 54 A feeble attempted challenge on halfway by Buckley concedes a foul. Now Johnson gives away a soft free kick. 57 Posh stroll right through our defence again but it’s an easy save for Kaminski. 59 Same again but this time van Hecke blocks out twice and it’s a corner. 64 Same again but this time Marriott, unmarked in the box, hits his shot low to the right post and Kaminski saves. 68 Same again but this time Harris mis-controls the incoming pass near the penalty spot and the ball runs through to Kaminski. Wharton and van Hecke both slipped to give him a free shot! 69 Same again and Lenihan is beaten easily but Travis blocks the cross for a corner. 71 Buckley off, Dolan on. 72 Giles takes forever to take a throw-in. 74 A shot comes in from 26 yards and it’s comfortable for Kaminski. 76 A nice 1-2 from a long clearance by Posh between Travis and van Hecke. JP curves a beautiful long ball to Diaz on the edge of the box. He lets it run forwards off his chest and, from 11 yards, he smashes the ball inside the right post. Great finish! Who’da thought? Players and fans go wild! Ben’s first this calendar year! Have we got the bottle? 78 Travis fouls 30 yards out. The free-kick hits the wall. The fans are loud! 81 Lenihan allows the winger to get in a dangerous cross from the byline and Kaminski has to punch away. It goes out to Diaz who is dispossessed and falls over looking for a foul. Posh push on and carve us wide open. Johnson is standing still, Wharton and van Hecke are bypassed and Szmodics puts the ball past Kaminski from the right corner of the 6 yard box. 85 A Peterborough corner and it’s ping pong in the box until Johnson hoofs it away. 86 A Dolan drive pushes us downfield but the ending is poor as he tries to do too much and loses the ball. Posh stream forward. Nobody is marking the right winger…and it’s 5 against 3. The ball is slipped through to the winger, van Hecke can’t stop the cross to Randall, unmarked and 9 yards out. Lenihan makes a fantastic last ditch block and van Hecke hoofs clear. Good grief! Posh come back down the right wing. Dack is knackered. The ball is fired into Harris on the penalty spot, Lenihan is wrong-sided, allowing Harris to lay back to Marriott a few yards back. He is totally unmarked and is able to miscontrol before arcing the ball into the left side of the net. Where was the defence? It’s hard to allocate blame as we were all at sea throughout and we didn’t get back quickly enough. What a terrible way to concede. 92 A long punt downfield is headed on and sees Lenihan and Wharton challenging a lone Posh striker into our box. Wharton can’t keep up but fortunately Marriott falls over and it’s no penalty. 94 Lenihan fires in a good ball from halfway to the edge of the box. Van Hecke touches it on to Dack but he’s off-balance and Knight is too strong and the chance drifts away. The final whistle goes. It’s so depressing. How many times can we throw wonderful opportunities away? Down to 8th I think. Afterthought: the centrebacks have too much to do.
  12. Peterborough United away next and if it weren't for a long-standing commitment to attend this game, I have to say I wouldn't bother making the long trip down the A1. On the plus side, in 2 previous visits to London Road I've seen Rovers win both times, the first including a Jordan Rhodes hat-trick and one of the most enjoyable days in years standing on an old-fashioned terrace behind the goal under a low roof just like the Darwen End in years gone by. The terrace has gone now but the atmosphere that day was brilliant. On the down side, I think the chances of us getting the play-off push back on track with a victory are unlikely after the abysmal showing against Blackpool following on from a series of poor performances. Posh have had one of two decent results in recent weeks with draws against Luton and away to Bournemouth, and a surprising 3-1 victory at QPR. They may be bottom of the league but, in contrast to Tony Mowbray-inspired Rovers, they clearly haven't given up the fight. 1-1 draw at best.
  13. It’s rapidly reaching the point where nothing but consecutive victories will suffice if the play-off dream is to sustain… Blackpool up next in one of those old-fashioned Lancashire derbies the used to feature on Granada…like this one in 1978 https://pyroonthepitch.com/2018/02/28/people-on-the-pitch-5-blackpool-v-blackburn-rovers-football-league-division-two-04-02-1978/ A reversal of that scoreline would do nicely…
  14. PLAYER WATCH v Blackpool (H) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ****** 13 Nyambe(61) ******* ***** 2 Lenihan ******************** ********* 20 van Hecke ******************** *********** 11 Wharton ( ******** ********** -6 Pickering ************* *********** -6 Travis *************** ******* 9 Rothwell ********** *********** -3 Dolan (61) **** * 2 Gallagher ******************* ******* 20 Diaz ******* ********* -4 Buckley (61) **** ******** 5 Dack (61) ****** * 7 Giles (80) * ** -1 Hedges (91) * -2 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) 06 All pretty quiet but Rovers are having most of the ball…….. until Wharton, the last defender, midway in our half is dawdling carelessly and allows Hamilton to rob him and head for goal. (Kaminski was actually outside the D when Scott was robbed!) Kaminski has made it back and comes out and spreads and blocks the shot with his leg on the 6 yard line. No wonder Hamilton is holding his head in his hands! 07 The corner comes in and drops to Thorniley near the penalty spot, his footwork beats Lenihan; Dolan and van Hecke can’t get a touch. His shot whistles past the left post. We’re living dangerously and should be one down! 09 A long punt downfield by Kaminski goes over the defender and turns out to be perfect for Gallagher. His first touch is excellent allowing the ball to run on but his second, into the box, is heavy and he pushes it almost too far but he just manages to get there before the keeper and dink it over him into the left side of the net. Sam’s 8th of the season. 11 A totally dumb push in the back foul by Pickering on the winger. 13 Wharton, near the centre-circle, threads a nice ball through the middle for Gallagher who’s on another good run. He leaves it for Diaz who takes it into the box and goes down as the challenge comes in. No penalty - correct shout. Van Hecke misses out on an aerial challenge and Lenihan completely mis-kicks as he tries to tidy up. Lavery is clear to run into the box and Wharton’s challenge goes in. Lavery goes down! Lenihan blocks a couple of half-shots in the subsequent confusion until someone hoofs it away! The commentators are convinced it was a penalty. But the ref disagreed so we have to say it was a good challenge by Wharton that saved the day again. 16 Another weak free-kick conceded by Pickering on the winger. 17 Wharton and Pickering allow Blackpool to attack down their right and Hamilton slides a low cross into the box but Travis is the only man around and he clears. 18 It’s a Blackpool long throw which is misjudged by Wharton and van Hecke; fortunately, as it bounces, Travis is there again to boot clear. 24 A well-delivered corner by Rothwell to the far post and a Blackpool man does well to head off the line as Dolan and Diaz challenged. 25 Another good corner by Rothwell from the left to the far post where Diaz, unchallenged and a few yards out, heads over. Bad miss! Several Rovers are holding their heads this time. 28 For the umpteenth time Hamilton does Pickering and delivers a cross…too long this time. But Blackpool keep the ball and another dangerous cross comes in and Kaminski punches clear acrobatically. The corner comes in and again we are not winning these aerial balls. A Blackpool man flicks it on but this time they stuff up and it’s a goal-kick. 31 Another good dispossession by van Hecke and another (yawn!) sideways pass from Rothwell. Then he drills a long punt forward, straight to the keeper. 34 Some poor defending again by Rovers but Wharton picks up and tries to run it out of the D but he’s too lackadaisical again and is dispossessed. Van Hecke blocks the shot. 43 Rothwell’s corner is to the near post and Diaz’s glancing header is well over. 44 Hamilton turns Rothwell too easily and then does a kick and rush down the wing. This takes Wharton out of the game and there’s only Travis chasing…….eyeballs bulging as he gives it everything. He manages to get in a sliding challenge and it’s a corner. Good stuff. Half time. We don’t really deserve to be leading but I’ll take it. 28% of aerial challenges won!!! 45 Here we go again. Three indecisive aerial duels, then Diaz is done by the Blackpool man at the byline. The cross comes in and van Hecke’s header is straight to Hamilton 15 yards out and he volleys the ball over the bar. 47 Lenihan commits 2 soft fouls in 1 minute. The free-kick comes in and van Hecke and Wharton get in each other’s way and JP’s header hits a Blackpool man, Diaz does a panicky air-kick, Lavery shoots from 14 yards and it hits Lenihan and goes just past the left post. We are getting murdered here. 48 Well that’s it! The corner comes in. Van Hecke is out jumped, then Lenihan can’t a good header in and it falls into a crowd of bodies just outside the 6 yard box. No one takes control and it’s serious pinball. Lenihan, Nyambe, Pickering, Gallagher were all there….but a Blackpool foot goes in and the ball ends up in the net. Disaster but it’s been coming. Blackpool deserve it I’m afraid. 53 Good chase and tackle by Gallagher wins the ball, Travis slides the ball nicely to Diaz, just outside the box. He tries a shot but it’s blocked out for a corner. 55 It’s a long punt by the Blackpool keeper and Wharton heads it down to the feet of an opponent. Thankfully his shot is blocked by Lenihan. Nyambe gives away a soft foul on the wing. 58 More comedy defending. Van Hecke gives the ball away near halfway and the ball is punted down their right wing for Hamilton. Travis manages to hold him up briefly but he still squares to Connolly just inside the box. His shot is blocked by Lenihan; van Hecke and Travis clear. It breaks well for Rovers and Diaz slips it to Dolan and they’re both flying downfield. It all comes to nothing though as Dolan’s attempt to find the final killer pass, near the box, is awful. Dolan has been poor today. 59 More poor work by Rothwell as he runs into a blind alley on halfway and is dispossessed. Blackpool are pushing us back continually and you have to ask “where is the heart of this team?” We look lost. Diaz is trying to wave his teammates forward as he’s the only Rover in the opposition half. 61 Dolan and Nyambe(!) off, Dack and Buckley on. 62 Gallagher gives away a dumb free kick just outside the box, hurling his opponent to the floor! Yellow card. It’s about 12 yards out but Blackpool stuff it up. 69 Van Hecke stands on the ball and loses it, just inside the Blackpool half. Dack wins it back close to the box, Travis takes it on and squares across the box to Gallagher who takes 2 touches and that’s enough time for the defenders to get back to block his shot. 71 A nice long pass down the wing from Pickering to Diaz. He feeds Buckley who loops a cross to the far post where it, more or less, hits Gallagher’s head and drops into the keeper’s arms. 73 Buckley controls well on halfway and sends a nice pass to Diaz. He moves towards the box but his shot is fluffed 90 degrees off target and goes out for a throw. 74 A nice jinking run by Diaz and he lays off to Buckley just outside the box. His shot is weak and straight at the keeper. 75 Lenihan is running down the wing and collects the pass from Travis. His through ball to Dack doesn’t look strong enough but it is! Dack collects, turns away from his man beautifully, and puts it over the keeper into the net. He was offside! Rats! 78 New sub Bowler goes past Pickering and Travis easily and slides it left to Anderson who’s shot hits Lenihan. 79 Some nice football from Rovers: Dack to Rothwell to Diaz on the left wing. He drives inside and into the box but he’s out-numbered 3 to 1 and loses the ball. Bowler embarrasses Pickering and the Rover has to foul him to prevent him running away with the ball. Yellow card. Harry’s had a tough day. 80 Wharton has been off with a face injury and he isn’t coming back. Giles on. 83 Dack controls and passes for Gallagher to chase to the right corner flag. He feeds Travis who takes it to the byline just outside the box where he lobs a nice ball square but it skims off Diaz’s head. Pickering lofts the ball back into the box, Gallagher goes up in the goalmouth, then Dack but neither make good contact. Eventually Giles puts in a decent cross but Dack was offside again. He wasn’t going to get there anyway. 89 Where’s the urgency? 90 Anderson beats van Hecke easily and feeds Bowler in the box. Pickering is struggling but he manages to deflect the shot and (I think) it hits the outside of the right post. Gallagher heads clear from the corner. 91 Gallagher off, Hedges on. (Wharton was a concussion injury apparently so we have the extra sub). 92 The ball is fired to Husband on their left and there is no one anywhere near him! He squares it to a teammate who smashes a shot from over 30 yards. Kaminski parries the swerving ball and Lenihan whips it off the toes of Madine near the penalty spot. Darragh is making up for a mediocre first half! 96 Final whistle. We have become a pale shadow of the team that went on that amazing run. We were becoming used to a poor first half followed by a decent second half but today it was poor throughout. It’s crazy that we are still in touch with the top 6! Our recent form is relegation fodder.
  15. PLAYER WATCH v Coventry City (A) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski *** * 5 R-Costello (45) ******* ***** 1 Nyambe ************ ******* 10 van Hecke *************** ********** 8 Wharton ******************* *************** 11 Pickering ************ **** 10 Giles (45) **** **** 2 Travis *********** ******* 5 Buckley (80) ************ ******** 7 Rothwell ********** ** 9 Gallagher ************** ******* 9 Diaz (45) ******* *** 10 Dack (45) **** *** 5 Hedges (80) ** 4 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Diaz is on the bench with Dack. Nyambe’s taking Lenihan’s place and JRC is right wing back. Giles is up-front on the right partnering Gallagher (scored 2 in his last 19 according to the commentator.) We’re out of the top 6 due to Forest’s big win earlier. 02 Nice long run by Buckley. He is too ambitious though and his long range shot is blocked and the rebound goes to an offside Gallagher. 05 Pickering is caught upfield and City collect the ball near the flag. It’s crossed into the box and Hamer meets it perfectly, 18 yards out, and it’s travelling but Wharton is in the way! 06 JRC gives away the ball near the centre circle and it’s danger! The City man threads a beautiful ball through the middle of our gaping defence to Godden running into our box. Van Hecke is chasing and the City man goes down. Was it van Hecke who clipped his heels or did he trip himself up? Hard to tell but Kaminski collects and it’s no penalty. Bedlam! Godden and the City fans are incensed. 07 Nyambe is beaten in the air, Van Hecke and Wharton are both drawn forward and Godden sucker-punches them with a neat ball past them both to the feet of O’Hare. He tries to turn past the on-coming Pickering but it hits Harry’s leg and is swept into the net. Own goal! 09 Wharton miscontrols a long clearance and it falls nicely to City. It’s slipped to Godden again but an unstable Nyambe manages to keep his feet and shield the ball back to Kaminski. Our defence is a shambles! 14 More panicky defence work and a City cross comes in to an unmarked Godden, on the penalty spot, who heads inches wide. He was offside but…….we miss Lenihan. As Colin Hendry used to say….it’s up to the centre halves to makes sure that doesn’t happen. Nyambe and van Hecke were nearest to him. 17 Travis is trying to do the work of two men because Rothwell is doing nothing! JRC makes a nice run and squares it low across the box. Gallagher tries to sweep it, first time, into the goal but it’s not very powerful and straight at the goalie. At least Sam got himself into the box. 23 Dabo plays with Pickering before putting in a nice cross which Godden heads over the bar. He was unmarked on the penalty spot again. Nyambe was marking him at one stage but he was drawn away. 29 Rothwell and Pickering stuff up a short corner. 30 Van Hecke is losing his cool. Here he pushes the City player for no apparent reason….other than his own frustration! 33 City cut us open again! Now, under no pressure, van Hecke passes straight to an opponent. Then Travis gives it away and Wharton has to clear the low cross from the 6 yard box. JRC wins the ball then passes it straight to a City player 25 yards out. Hamer takes it on and crashes the ball against the right post. This is garbage! 35 Van Hecke loses control of the ball and lunges into a desperate mis-timed challenge on the edge of the box - yellow card! The kick is only 20 yards out and Palmer bends it round the wall but Kaminski has anticipated well and flings himself horizontal to push the ball away. 38 They are so much quicker to the loose ball than we are….and they are more composed when they get it. 41 What is going on? A poor ball by Wharton hits a City man and ricochets towards Kaminski who is now well out of his goal near the wing. He clashes with the Coventry player and goes down. City look to take the quick throw in so Kaminski stays down and rolls in agony. Fortunately the ref buys it and blows to hold up play! From the throw, one City player beats about 4 Rovers and Maatsen tussles with JRC in the box. Maatsen goes down but we get the foul……phew…..both were tugging each other! 47 JRC launches a sky-high punt into the box and Wharton goes up with the keeper who fails to collect. A City man panic hoofs it over his own goal. 51 Half time. Another atrocious half….awful all-round. Toothless in attack and disorganised in defence. Apart from taking set-pieces, Rothwell has done nothing. 45 Dack and Diaz on, Giles and JRC off. Direct from the kick-off, Gallagher goes up, on the wing, and wins a flick on. Nyambe battles for the ball and slips it to Buckley just inside the box. He lifts it perfectly to Dack on the 6 yard line and he heads past the keeper!!! 15 seconds I reckon!!! We weren’t in the game……we are now! Diaz was sniffing too. We actually had 2 players in the goalmouth! The first away goal since mid-January. 47 City have gone a bit wobbly! 48 Gallagher mis-controls and then lunges in and gets a yellow card. 50 A long run by Rothwell goes nowhere as he runs it over the goal-line. 54 The Rovers fans are still loud. 55 Gallagher’s getting quite a few flick-ons from long punts today! Diaz and Dack were hovering. City hoof it away. It’s all Rovers….amazing! 58 The first mazy run by Diaz across City’s half. It’s back-flicked to Rothwell who drives into the box and squares across the face of goal where Dack slides in and misses it by 2 feet. It’s really loud! 60 Rothwell takes a free kick just inside the Coventry half. Wharton goes up and heads back across goal. Dack can’t get it but Diaz runs in and hits it against the left post from a tight angle. Someone was offside. Maybe Dack. 62 Another good flick on from Gallagher and Diaz lays back to Dack but his touch is poor. 63 Buckley loses the ball then fouls the City man 30 yards out. We clear it up fortunately. 66 Pickering intercepts in the centre-circle and Diaz picks up and decides to attack the whole Coventry defence on his own. He goes past 3 men, 4 more are back-pedalling, then lets fly a decent grass cutter from 27 yards and it whistles past the left post. Close. A dumbass pull back by Buckley on Maatsen. Yellow card. 69 The centre backs are drawn forward again, the ball is fired down the City left wing and there is no one in our last 50 yards except Kaminski! The cross comes and Pickering decides to intercept in front of Kaminski. It works out ok and van Hecke boots clear. 71 A nice curving pass by Diaz out to Gallagher just to the right of the box he drives a square ball through the 6 yard box and this time a sliding Dack was 2 yards off. 72 A nice back-flick from Diaz sees the Rovers play the ball across field. Nyambe slides it to Rothwell who drives to the byline before looping it into the goalmouth but it right into the keeper’s arms. 74 Some real ping pong around the Rovers goal but Dack blocks the crucial shot on goal. 75 I think this is the 3rd or 4th time van Hecke has been writhing on the floor! Maatsen goes in the book. Mowbray gets a yellow too. 76 Looked like a good challenge by Wharton but the ref gives a foul. There’s a bit of afters Big handbags swap involving most of the players! Yellow for Wharton and a City man. 80 A good run down the right wing by Buckley wins a corner but it’s Hedges on and Buckley off! 81 Rothwell takes it and Wharton on the 6 yard line gets a relatively clear header and he thumps it into the net. Great stuff, fans and players go wild! Unbelievable turn-around! I swear I saw Tony smile! You really can see how much it means to the players here. “He’s one of our own” rings out. 83 Nyambe fouls 30 yards out, then heads the nasty free-kick over the bar. 85 Maatssen flashes a shot 2 yards wide of the left post. 86 Nyambe gives the ball away and Wharton fouls his man 36 yards out. When the shot comes in Kaminski decides to punch it away although it was going into his chest. 89 Rovers’ players are falling down all over….now Diaz takes it to the flag and wastes about 1 second before losing possession. 6 nervy minutes of extra time to go. Rothwell is receiving attention. 91 Brief panic stations in our box as Nyambe fails to clear but the ref blows - offside I think. Blimey, now Nyambe’s down. He’s injured but we’ve no more subs. 96 The 3rd failed attempt by Diaz to waste time at the corner flag. 98 City attack down their right and Dabo crosses to the far post where Djokeres heads powerfully past Kaminski. He got away from the injured Nyambe and Gallagher wasn’t really marking anyone. I thought he had taken on the job of Nyambe’s protector since he was injured? Maybe Kaminski could have done better but what a catastrophe! I think Nyambe was living on one leg. We just couldn’t keep it out of our half. Final whistle. Back to 6th so the agony continues.
  16. Nobody has started one yet so here goes… Here’s a couple of photos taken the last time I was at that stadium…Glory Days anyone ?
  17. PLAYER WATCH v Reading (A) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ******* *** 19 Khadra (24) ** *** -2 Lenihan ****************** ********** 14 van Hecke **************** ***** 13 Wharton **************** ******* 11 Giles ********* ********* -2 Travis ********* ******** 2 Buckley (58) ********** ****** 3 Rothwell *********** ***** 9 Gallagher *************** ********* 4 Dolan (58) ***** ****** -3 Pickering (24) ****** *** 6 Dack (58) ** ** 0 Hedges (58) * -2 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Reading are in a relegation battle and haven’t kept a clean sheet forever, have only one home win since October and we won last time out. We meet again with Paul Ince and son, Junior Hoilett and Lucas Joao. What could possibly go wrong? 00 It’s a back 3 with Khadra (!) and Giles as wing backs. 07 Absolutely nothing happening at all! 13 Reading attack down their left. Wharton puts in a good challenge on Joao and it runs to Khadra but he’s not strong enough and loses the ball. McIntyre close to the byline crosses to the feet of Ince on the penalty spot. His lovely first touch takes him past Wharton and Kaminski pulls off a brilliant save near the left post, rushing out to smother the shot. Eventually Rothwell hoofs clear. Wharton and especially Giles left Ince free there. 19 A poor Rothwell free kick goes over every one and out for a goal kick! Then a fairly powder puff attempt at a shot from Dolan just outside the box. 20 Poor quality all round so far…..from both sides. 24 Khadra off injured, Pickering on. Giles moves to the right. 29 Reading hurrying Rovers in their own half until Kaminski rushes his pass into touch. Joao beats Lenihan to the long clearance. Reading work the ball across the edge of our box and 2 attackers have good chances to shoot but they send it right to an unmarked Yiadom who fires in a shot. Kaminski is there to save near the post. Reading hero Swift is brought on. 31 Swift gets the ball 27 yards out on the left wing and sends in a perfect ball to the head of Joao, 8 yards out, (van Hecke had drifted away from him) but Kaminski parries the downward header up into the air and is fouled as he goes to collect. That was a sitter missed by Joao. 32 Swift flashes a shot past the left post. Reading are on top since Swift came on. Hmmm, the ref’s letting the play flow as some dodgy challenges go unpunished. 35 Dolan chases a long clearance into the box with Morrison. He tries a fancy back-flick to Buckley but it doesn’t come off. Buckley does get to the ball though, beats a couple of men and tries to drive in to goal but it’s narrow and his attempted shot is blocked by the keeper at the near post. He wins a corner. Giles takes and it goes to the far post where Lenihan’s header is disappointing. 36 Joao beats van Hecke in the air and Wharton attempts to stroke the ball back to Kaminski but it’s a poor pass and it’s there for Ejaria to run on to. Kaminski is out in a flash and puts in a tackle Keith Newton would be proud of to save the day…..again! The Reading fans are howling for a penalty but Kaminski definitely got the ball. 38 Another of those long hoofs downfield where Gallagher doesn’t even attempt to get off the ground to challenge! A nice crossfield ball from Swift; he looks a player this lad. 39 Lenihan is beaten in the air again and Reading attack. Joao rolls it across the edge of the box to Swift who does a clever flick to the on-rushing Laurent 12 yards out. He fires in his shot and Kaminski tips it over the bar. What a game he’s having! Reading should have this game in the bag already! Kaminski is exhorting his teammates to greater efforts! Unconvincing defending from the corner but it goes out for a goal-kick. 41 A nice cross from Pickering finds Dolan 12 yards out but his header barely reaches the keeper. 43 Dolan wriggles, as he does, in the box, and manages to slip the ball sideways to Gallagher but the defender is too close and blocks it away. 46 Reading are playing the ball around with confidence. Ince moves to the edge of the box, Travis turns his backside to the ball in a poor attempt at a challenge, Wharton gets a foot in and Buckley collects. He tries a pull back right in front of goal and is dispossessed but Wharton gets his foot in again but it’s straight to Ejaria who pokes the ball back into the box where Wharton, on the stretch, gets another touch! But it goes out to Joao, unmarked 8 yards out and he slides his shot across the face of goal and out by the right post by a foot. We look like the relegation team right now! 50 Half time 45 Rovers win the ball in midfield and Buckley slides a nice pass to Dolan on the right edge of the box but he miskicks his shot again and it’s way off-target. 47 Rothwell, on the right, bends a lovely ball behind the defender to the on-coming Gallagher 12 yards out but his first time shot is way off-target. Sadly we are all getting used to these pathetic attempts at finishing. 48 A totally unnecessary sliding foul by Buckley earns him his usual yellow card. 50 Lenihan heads away a Reading free kick but they retrieve and a shot flies in from the edge of the box where Kaminski does brilliantly again to get down and palm it round the post for a corner. Gallagher clears the cross and then clears again. 54 Van Hecke brings the ball forward to midway in the Reading half and lays off a lovely ball for Giles to run on to. He gets in a cross but the defender blocks and Gallagher picks up and squares perfectly for Buckley 15 yards out. He hits it firmly, first time but the goalie is equal to it and tips over the bar. Good save. 58 Dolan and Buckley off, Hedges and Dack on. 423 formation. 63 Rothwell wins the ball and drives downfield. He slips a nice ball to Hedges on the edge of the box but his attempt to clip the ball square is blocked all too easily by the defender. 67 A Giles corner is met by Lenihan under pressure but it’s straight at the keeper. 71 I’ve just witnessed the miss of the decade! Pickering lofts a lovely ball into the box where Dack ghosts behind the defender and takes it on his chest and shoots from the edge of the 6 yard box. Nyland saves well at his near post. The ball bounces invitingly for Gallagher 5 yards out with the goal gaping but he miskicks and slips on to his backside! Hedges hacks at the ball with a defender challenging but it’s well wide. You have to see this one to believe it! 72 Junior Hoilett on. 77 Reading attack down the left and a flat ball comes across the box where Wharton sticks out a foot to clear. But it’s straight to Laurent just outside the box and central and he bends a wonderful ball into the top right corner of the net. Even Kaminski couldn’t save that one, he was left clawing the air. 86 Strange. It’s a Rovers corner and Gallagher is very clearly dragged to the ground but the ref is looking the other way and, for some reason, is ordering the corner to be taken again! Giles puts it right into the keeper’s arms! 94 Wharton takes a yellow for the team and the final whistle goes. The slide away from the top 6 continues relentlessly.
  18. Only two days away... Reading generally poor but got a good draw at Bournemouth Obviously after the Tuesday we should (!) stick with the 4231 that was so effective in the second half. The main question will be whether Mowbray risks Dack from the start or he puts Buckley in and then brings Dack on second half. Probably the latter. For all of how good we looked throwing people forward on Tuesday I do wonder if it will open up our defence again. Hopefully playing Lenihan at right back will help a bit to maintain the defensive solidarity we've had. One of those games it's very hard to know what to expect. Team likely to play imo : Kaminski Lenihan Van Hecke WHarton Pickering Travis Rothwell Dolan Buckley Khadra Gallagher Subs : Pears, Rankin Costello, Davenport, Hedges, Giles, Johnson, Dack
  19. What changes would people make to he starting 11? would anyone change formation(I would)? What do people think the result will be? Rovers will win this and I will go for 4 nil prediction I would change formation and go back to 4-2-3-1 formation. Kaminski Lenihan Van Hecke Wharton Giles Travis Rothwell Dolan Buckley Khadra Gallagher Subs:- Pears Brown Pickering Johnson Dack Hedges JRC
  20. PLAYER WATCH v Derby County (H) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Half time scores are in purple, full time in black: Kaminski **** ** (4) 4 R-Costello (45) ****** ********* (-7) -7 Lenihan *************** ***** (5) 16 van Hecke ********************* **** (13) 25 Wharton ******************** ******** (3) 24 Pickering *********** ******** (-2) 2 Travis *************** **** (3) 11 Johnson (45) *** ***** (-5) -5 Rothwell *************** *** (9) 18 Khadra (79) ******* ****** (4) -2 Dolan ********** ****** (2) 7 Gallagher(45) *********** ** 16 Dack (45) ** * 3 Giles (79) *** * 4 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) I’m trying to be positive: this is a big game and a test of character all round. Buckley and Gallagher out Dolan and Johnson in. 02 Khadra goes on a decent run and tries his chances from over 25 yards but it’s weak and the keeper saves comfortably. Johnson’s playing up top! 06 Hmmm. No real pressing from Rovers up front. No sense of urgency. Derby seem very happy to play it around at the back. 09 Pickering fails to stop a cross into the box. 11 Rothwell remembers the Fulham lad and tries a shot from the halfway line…it bisects the right post and the corner flag! There’s nothing much at all happening here! 15 Khadra, on the right wing whips in a dangerous looking cross to the near post and the defender nearly makes a mess of it but the keeper collects. No attacker in the vicinity….as we’ve come to expect in recent times. 16 Ebiowei beats Pickering too easily on the edge of the box and Derby ping it around our box. 18 Wharton gives the ball away just outside the box and Derby attack. They’re into the box but van Hecke and Wharton win the ball back. 20 Blimey, Derby are boring as they pass it from one defender to another around their box. 23 Another bad pass from Wharton gives the ball to Derby in the centre-circle. Lawrence’s shot is poor, however. Nevertheless, Derby look the more dangerous side. 24 A nice run by Dolan sets Khadra off and he drives square across the box but again there’s no end product as his tame attempted shot rolls wide. 25 A nice pass from Rothwell sets Dolan one on one with the defender but he falls over on the edge of the box! 26 JRC loses the ball in the Derby half. Ebiowei rolls Wharton on the centre spot then Morrison beats Wharton near the box. Pickering blocks Knight’s shot and Travis’s attempted hook clearance is fluffed and falls straight to Lawrence but his attempted through ball is booted out of play by van Hecke. What a shambles! From the throw, JRC fails to prevent Buchanan’s cross….it’s an easy clearance for Wharton but for some reason, Johnson puts an awkward pass back to Travis in our box. Travis mis-controls with his face and Lawrence robs him. Van Hecke holds him up but Ebiowei gets it on the edge of the box and turns Pickering inside out before shooting. He hits van Hecke’s leg and the rebound hits a prone Pickering allowing Byrne to square along the 6 yard line where Morrison pokes it into the net. The most chaotic defending I’ve seen for many a long while. We had multiple chances to clear up but panic removed all semblance of clear thinking. Well we’re in trouble now……..Derby deserve their lead. 32 Dearie me, Derby stroll the length of the pitch under no pressure. Ebiowei does Pickering all ends up again before feeding Byrne on the edge of the box. Big danger but his through ball is deflected and reaches Buchanan. JRC puts it out for a throw and a breather! 34 Derby stroking the ball around at a leisurely pace, no attempt to close down from Rovers. Bird breezes past Wharton effortlessly on halfway, they’re playing with us! The fans are booing! 38 Dolan gives the ball away and Travis fouls the Derby man midway in our half. The cross comes in and Wharton can only head into the air, falling to Morrison 15 yards out who volleys it powerfully past the left post! Another let off, Kaminski was beaten. 40 A Rovers corner, Wharton loops a header towards the 6 yard box where Dolan and van Hecke battle with several Derby men, it’s chaos but the defender gets his boot there first. 41 JRC leaves Buchanan in acres of space on the wing and the Derby man is free to move into the box where his decent shot flies across Kaminski’s goal. This is embarrassing. Lenihan gives JRC a rollocking. 44 A nice ball into the box from van Hecke to Khadra’s feet but he’s offside! 45 A terrible backpass from Pickering goes directly to an unmarked Lawrence on the edge of our box but Kaminski is out quickly enough to block the shot. Derby should be 3 up! The whistle goes, the fans boo and that’s the worst performance I’ve seen for a long time. 45 Dack and Gallagher on, Johnson and JRC off. It’s very unusual for Rovers to make half-time subs but it’s desperate times. We’re going to a back 4 and an attacking front 4. Gallagher wins a nice flick on from Kaminski’s long clearance and the fans roar their approval. 46 Khadra foul throws when in an attacking position! 48 Gallagher slides to partially charge down the keeper’s clearance and the ball runs out for a Rovers throw. Khadra curls in a decent cross…just too high for Dack. Now Derby attack and Ebiowei crosses from their right wing to Buchanan and van Hecke takes him out in the box with a cumbersome and risky challenge but it paid off as another Derby man puts his shot wide. 49 Whoa! Now we’re pressing!! But Derby attack again and Travis breaks it up, then commits the dumbest of “pull-back” fouls just outside the box. Fortunately it’s a poor delivery. 51 Another nice flick on by Gallagher and Dolan sprints to the byline and crosses into the 6 yard box where Byrne gets there just before Khadra and has to put it over his own crossbar. 52 Rothwell takes the corner and Wharton runs to the near post and, unmarked, flashes his header into the net. Great goal…and a massive relief. Scott’s first goal in the league for Rovers. 54 Hmm, Lenihan must have been practising his long throws as this is the second in as many minutes. This one goes right into the box……over Gallagher’s head! It comes out to van Hecke, 30 yards out and he fires at goal and it’s deflected for another corner. There’s some argy-bargy and the ref tells off Gallagher and Lawrence. Rothwell’s corner goes over everyone but Lawrence wrestles Gallagher to the ground. That should have been a penalty! Pickering heads it back into the box and Dolan mis-kicks in a crowded 6 yard box. It’s bouncing all over the place. Khadra somehow keeps it in play and Rothwell spreads the ball to Lenihan on the right. He lays on a beautiful cross to Wharton on the left corner of the 6 yard box and his header is powerful and on target but the keeper dives to make a good save. But it’s only parried to the unmarked Dolan, 2 yards out and unmarked, and unbelievably he heads it over the bar! 56 It’s relentless Rovers’ pressure as Rothwell rushes in to rob the defender and win a corner. Gallagher, for once, is throwing his weight around as they all jostle in the box. Dack seems to be trying to calm things down. Rothwell takes it short to Dack just inside the box and he clips a neat ball towards the far post where Dolan nods it down and into the net. Pendemonium! Fans and players erupt with ecstasy! Tony looks proper glum,however! 68 Khadra loses the ball and Derby stream forward. Van Hecke stretches but misses the tackle. Wharton manages to get back and part block the ball out for a corner. They take it short but Travis wins the ball and Khadra is off. Dolan and Rothwell sprint after him and it’s 3 against 2. Sadly Khadra’s pass lacks a yard of pace and Dolan can’t control it and it all comes to nothing. Derby attack and it looks dangerous but Knight’s shot is blocked away by Wharton. 81 Gallgher and Giles press well and we force a corner. 82 Travis is well beaten on the wing and gives away another yellow card challenge. 85 Rothwell picks up a loose ball 30 yards out and goes past 3 players into the box but his shot is disappointing and curls a yard wide. 92 Nervy times as Derby attack down their right but Wharton cuts out the low cross and Pickering clears. 94 Lenihan gives the ball away but van Hecke rushes in to clear up. Wharton is awarded the sponsor’s man of the match. 96 Pickering lobs a good ball to Giles on the left wing and he takes it forward. His cross is perfect to Gallagher, at the far post 8 yards out, and Sam beats his marker and heads the ball decisively into the roof of the net. The perfect ending. A left winger crossing to a big centre forward…can you believe it? Tony still looks glum. 98 The whistle goes and it’s loud. Great stuff after an appalling first half! All the players are embracing and enjoying the moment. Rooney shakes hands with every Rovers’ player.
  21. I stepped off the train, made my way out of the station, reached for the map in my pocket showing the location of Courtwood House; carried out some quick calculations and decided to walk. Time was on my side and I could save the taxi money to put towards an LP. I was fifteen years old and on my way for my first ever interview. It was with Midland Bank… “The Listening Bank” - ask your grandparents - applying for entrance into their graduate scheme. I was far from confident. Frankly, I felt as welcome as David Dunn visiting “The Royal Dyche” for a swift half and couldn’t wait for the ordeal to be over and soon to be on the earliest train home. That was the first time I had ever set foot in Sheffield and had it been the last, I would have been neither surprised nor concerned. Fast forward fourteen years or so, I’m standing in the ballroom of the Royal Victoria Hotel in Sheffield, delivering my groom’s speech. I’d married a Yorkshire lass and Sheffield was now always going to be a significant part of my history; notwithstanding that at this point I lived in the West Midlands. Sheffield’s claws were now in me. Visits to the in-laws meant trips to Meadowhall and if I played a shrewd strategic game, could be timed conveniently to “coincide” with away games at Hillsborough and Bramall Lane…how fortunate ? By 2007, we’d moved both jobs and house. Birmingham was firmly in the rear-view mirror and Sheffield now became my home, as it remains to this very day. As a Lancastrian, I never expected ever to settle in South Yorkshire; but as I reflect for this piece, Sheffield has constantly appeared at significant junctions in my life…destiny perhaps ? If I’m being scrupulously honest; I’ve never felt more at home anywhere, than I do here.. I’d secured the Midland Bank gig, I’d married a Sheffield girl and as my Twitter bio proclaims…I’m now an “exiled Lancastrian undertaking important missionary work in South Yorkshire”. As luck would have it, there is a little cluster of Rovers fans in this neck of the woods. We provide mutual succour and comfort to each other and when circumstances allow; we travel to Ewood together, meet up at away games and chew the cud on social media. So it is that on 23rd February, I will proudly welcome my fellow Roverites to the Steel City and we will descend on Bramall Lane keen to secure three vital points. Sheffield has suffered during the Covid lockdown. Many of our favourite shops have closed. The exit of John Lewis especially, being felt much like a death in the family. At least some of my favourite bars, restaurants and venues have somehow battled to keep heads above water and all being well, will survive and hopefully thrive. If you’re arriving by train, visit the Sheffield Tap on platform 1 of the station. If you’re arriving by car (& not driving of course), the best selection of ales close to Bramall Lane is probably “The Beer Engine” on Cemetery Road. Most folks won’t have time on a Wednesday evening, but if you ever find yourself in Sheffield with more leisure time, check out the Kelham Island district in the city; especially The Cutlery Works, the Kelham Island Tavern and if you like pizzas and real ale, Craft & Dough. From a footballing perspective, the city has seen the Owls spending more time fighting financial meltdown of late than footballing foes; whilst the Blades rose to the Premier League, taking the division by storm, only then to implode and drop back to the Championship. A period of readjustment now seems to have calmed things down, thanks to the appointment of former Barnsley & Leeds Utd boss Paul Heckingbottom. In his enjoyable sporting memoirs, Michael Parkinson often used a generic name of “Arthur Strongitharm” to describe an all-purpose composite Yorkshireman; presumably to avoid legal issues with some of his more ascerbic pen portraits. Ignoring that fictional name and with the possible exception of Arnie Sidebottom, is there a more stereotypical Yorkshire sporting name ? Legend has it that the Blades tend to attract the working-class Sheffielder, whilst the Owls are viewed as the more aspirational, middle-class club. Whichever opponent, Rovers have suffered some heartbreak in the Steel City over the years; the most memorable recent victories tending to come at Hillsborough rather than Bramall Lane. The (if you believe it) working-class Blades have traditionally proved to be obdurate opponents and similar can be expected this February. The victory at Ewood earlier this season after *that* Fulham game, proved to be a catalyst for a sustained run of positive results which catapulted Rovers into automatic promotion contention. The New Year however, has served only to pour cold water on those heady dreams. Poor recent form means that Rovers really need to secure a decent Bramall Lane result this time, else the great work of November and December will turn us into footballing Bullseye contestants… “Look at what you *could* have won…” The form table after the draw at The Hawthorns certainly calls out the size of the task ahead for Rovers. A re-energised and re-invigorated United are seemingly starting the sort of late season surge that can easily propel a team to the play-offs. We all know the challenges that Rovers currently face in the goal scoring department and given the Blades’ defensive record, this match in the Steel City requires Rovers to be on their mettle. , With a hat tip to my fellow Sheffield-based Roverite Mike Delap - here’s a list of alumni of the two clubs… Kevin Arnott James Beattie Marcus Bent Alan Birchenall Nick Blackman Nathan Blake David Bradford Viv Busby Harry Chapman Gordon Cowans Tony Field Garry Flitcroft Paul Gallagher Terry Garbett Keith Gillespie Mick Heaton Alan Kelly Andy Kennedy Matt Kilgallon Jay McEveley Nicky Marker Andy Morrison Mark Patterson Neil Ramsbottom Jack Rodwell Craig Short Mick Speight Phil Starbuck Jon Stead Keith Treacy Lee Williamson Alan Wright Sheffield has many positive attributes that I find endearing - if United could afford us the sort of warm welcome that Wednesday managed in January 2020, then I’m sure many fellow Roverites would enjoy the city every bit as much as I do. 😊 #COYB
  22. PLAYER WATCH v Bristol City (H) Each incident in the match was rated on the following scale: +5 GOAL +4 Excellent play +3 Very good play +2 Pleasing/good play +1 Decent play 0 Routine stuff -1 Sloppy play -2 Disappointing/poor play -3 Very poor play -4 Terrible play -5 Own goal The ratings for each player were then combined to produce a measure of the players overall contribution to the match. Ratings Key incidents per player = coloured stars Overall contribution = numbers Kaminski ** **** -2 R-Costello (60) **** * 4 Lenihan ********************* *********** 18 van Hecke *********************** **** 29 Wharton ****************** *********** 14 Pickering ********* ***** 4 Travis ********** ******* 5 Buckley (69) ****** ****** -1 Rothwell ******** ********* 1 Khadra ********* ****** 5 Gallagher ************ ****** 9 Dolan(60) *** *** 1 Dack (69) ** *** -6 Highlights and Lowlights (A justification for the main ratings given above) Bristol City, sitting 19th, haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home all season! We haven’t scored forever and Dack is back! 01 Semenyo turns van Hecke inside out and enters the box but he drags his shot across the face of goal and it’s well wide. 04 A Bristol man breezes straight past Lenihan too easily and passes to Semenyo but this time van Hecke dispossesses beautifully. 06 The dangerous Semenyo is attacking the box again but Lenihan tackles him perfectly in the box, gets the ball, beats a man and launches a nice long ball for Khadra to chase but the defender just beats him to it. Bristol are already looking a better team than Millwall last time out! 08 Van Hecke wins the ball again and passes long to Khadra on the wing. He turns inside and tries a shot but it’s deflected and runs to the goalie. 12 Travis wins a corner on the right. Rothwell takes and Lenihan has a free header, central and 8 yards out. It’s powerful, low but straight at the goalie who makes a good save. It should have been 1-0. 14 A great long pass from van Hecke on to Gallagher’s chest on the edge of the box. Sam brings it down well but his shot is blocked. 16 Yawn! Another sideways ball from Rothwell. 22 Buckley tries a fancy flick on the wing and loses the ball, now Travis is messing around with the ball and is dispossessed. Semenyo is away. His cross is dangerous and Lenihan puts it behind for a corner. 24 I think that’s the 3rd poor downfield pass so far from Wharton. 26 Kaminski’s free kick goes all the way to Bentley. Now he puts a clearance straight into touch! It’s poor stuff right now. 27 Buckley goes down just outside the box…..I think the defender breathed on him! Free kick anyway. Khadra’s shot hits the wall. 29 Highlight of the game so far…..a standing ovation as Dack goes into his warm-up. 31 Buckley, 28 yards out just left of central, whips a nice curler into the box but the defender does well to block off JRC’s run. I think that’s Buckley’s first serious contribution to the game! 32 Travis again running into trouble 30 yards out! 34 City attack from their own half. Martin heads the cross down to Semenyo’s feet near the penalty spot. Fortunately Semenyo is not as good as I thought he was as he completely scuffs the shot right into Kaminski’s arms! Wharton and Pickering failed to cover Martin between them. That was a great chance. 34 I think that’s the first forward pass from Rothwell but it’s a good one, crossfield to Khadra on the left. Offside! Khadra is blasting Buckley who failed to spot Khadra unmarked a minute earlier! 38 Lots of poor passing. We’re having trouble getting into the final third of the pitch. As the commentators point out, we are no longer playing the ball behind the defence (where there’s lots of space). It’s all to feet and it’s not working. 42 A lovely long ball by Lenihan finds JRC in lots of room 35 yards out and fairly central. He takes it on but seems to lose his nerve and instead of going for goal, he squares the ball to Pickering. He takes a touch, the defence arrives and his attempted shot is blocked…. JRC gets the ball again 16 yards out. He controls with his back to goal, spins and shoots but the keeper saves comfortably. Why are JRC and Pickering the only players venturing into midfield in an attacking sense? Half Time. A much poorer display than we produced against Millwall. Lenihan and van Hecke the only players to come out of it with any real credit. 48 Khadra booked for simulation. 49 Gallagher wins the long ball and does an outrageous backflip to the feet of the on-rushing Rothwell but his attempted square ball in the box is blocked. Eventually it comes to Travis, 30 yards out but his rising drive is over the bar. 74 games since his last goal apparently. 52 Slow, boring stuff from Rovers. We are creating nothing from the back. I like it when van Hecke brings it into the opposition’s half - he has a good pass on him. At least it’s something a bit different. Where’s the long raking, defence splitting passes from Buckley? It’s hard to tell that he’s on the pitch today. 53 Oh! That’s what I’m on about. Van Hecke wanders into midfield and does some nice interplay with Rothwell which results in van Hecke receiving near the left of the 6 yard box. The keeper goes down at his near post to save the shot and the ball bounces towards the penalty spot where a City man boots clear. Again it’s a defender showing the midfield and attack how it should be done. 54 A long clearance by City and it’s 2 against 1 but Lenihan sorts it out with a neat interception. Then he puts a long crossfield ball right to the feet of Khadra. Good stuff but it’s deja vu as the keeper saves Khadra’s shot at the near post and the ball again bounces towards the penalty spot with no Rover hovering. I wonder where Gallagher was? 57 Travis tries a shot from the edge of the D but it’s deflected wide for a corner. Rothwell puts it straight into the keeper’s arms. 65 A good challenge by Wharton in our box and Rothwell picks up and storms downfield before releasing a lovely ball down the wing for Khadra to chase. He takes it to the corner of the box and turns the defender one way, then the other before shooting with his left foot. It’s a narrow angle and it hits the keeper and yet again bounces forward. Travis collects just outside the box but his attempt at a shot is blocked. 66 Blimey Khadra gets it again near the left corner of the box and this time his shot is deflected to the keeper. 67 Buckley dawdling in the City half is dispossessed. City attack and the cross comes in from City’s left. Pickering is beaten in the air and it falls to Wells. Van Hecke is close enough to prevent a shot. Wells flicks it sideways and Pickering is there to make amends, booting it clear. 69 Well, the Rovers fans erupt as Dack appears. Buckley makes way. Rovers fans are wondering if we are in for a fairytale ending or the cruellest of suckerpunches. I’m shaking my head as I type that! 70 The whole stadium has lifted as a Gallagher flick on just beats Dack to the byline. 71 It’s loud. Khadra receives from a throw, 17 yards out on the left wing. From nowhere, he whips in another of those wicked curlers and it hits the top of the bar! The keeper was beaten. 72 Rothwell through to Dack who backflicks the ball into the box for Rothwell, who kept running. Between them Rothwell and Dolan lose the ball. 75 Lenihan is drawn out of position and City move forward. Van Hecke is drawn over to cover and the cross flies past him. It’s headed down to James in the D and Kaminski has to make the save. That was close. End to end stuff now! 78 A Rothwell drive downfield ends up in a blind alley and he concedes the foul. 80 Lenihan, 25 yards out and just left of central lofts a ball into the box. Van Hecke has his shirt pulled, he goes down near the spot and it’s a penalty!! Dack has the ball! Hearts are fluttering! Oh no! He stutters his run…..and right-footed he strokes the ball low and straight at the keeper who holds on to it. Poor, poor penalty. Fairytales don’t come true. 83 Dolan flicks a nice ball out to Khadra on the wing. He squares the ball beautifully to where we always knew Dack would be, 8 yards out. But, unbelievably, his touch is poor and he pushes the ball right across the face of goal and out of play. This wasn’t in the script! 85 Gallagher and Khadra both go down in the box claiming penalties. 87 City wasting time. Van Hecke is the sponsor’s man of the match. Dack mis-kicks the ball to City midway in our half. Williams goes past Dolan and Lenihan to the edge of our box and rolls it to Martin 8 yards out but Wharton robs him. 88 Travis gives the ball away in our half. Now he chases and fouls the City man! 90 4 minutes of extra time. An unmarked Williams fires a right footed shot over the bar. It was a chance, stemming from Lenihan failing to win his header from a City throw and being left out of position thereafter. 91 Van Hecke fouls the City man 10 yards inside our half. It’s lofted into their left channel to an unmarked man and our centre halves are all claiming offside. He’s not and he lays it back to Williams who, I think, slices his kick across the box to a totally unmarked Weimann who volleys the ball past Kaminski. The cruellest of suckerpunches but surely there should be someone marking City’s top scorer? In truth, we don’t deserve to be in the top 6. Final whistle. Bristol’s first away win since October. Why do I do this? Is anybody brave enough to read it?
  23. Critical game on Saturday, one we have to win, which means we have to do something we haven't done 9 times out of the last 12 and score a goal. Back 5 and keeper picks itself for me, Ayala is still feeling his calf so critical that Lenihan avoids a yellow, is Van Hecke on 9 now too? Travis and Rothwell again are certainties, and Buckley was good the other night, so he would have to start, leaving 2. Giles isn't an attacker, he doesn't suit being so high up. I don't think there is much between the rest of them, I know people might say "x has to play" or "y is shit, he shouldn't be anywhere near" but to be honest between Gallagher, Dolan, Hedges and Khadra, there isn't much, none are a big goal threat. I would personally bring Khadra back in and also give Hedges a start, hasn't really impressed but hasn't been given many minutes. Not much in it though. Would like to see the 2 attackers slightly narrower. Kaminski Lenihan Van Hecke Wharton Rankin Costello Travis Rothwell Pickering Buckley Hedges Khadra Subs: Pears, Johnson, Dack, Dolan, Gallagher, Giles, Brown
  24. Got tickets for the game. An old school friend from Blackburn has lived for many years in the capital and is putting me up, and has kind of adopted Fulham as his team. I suppose Fulham is one of the smaller capital clubs, and has a family feel. New ground for me, in the away end, hope we have a good following despite being on the telly. Ground: Fulham St Andrew's was originally a church team, and had a few grounds before, in 1894, they leased land in grounds of the building Craven Cottage. Whilst the ground was being built, they moved again, before settling at their current home in 1896. The cottage itself, had been around since 1780, built by Baron Craven, amid woods that formed part of Anne Boleyn's hunting grounds. By the time it opened, it could hold 50,000 spectators, although there were no stands! When one was finally built it was known as the "rabbit hutch". Their highest attendance, 49,335 v Millwall 8th October 1938. The new Riverside development is still under construction, but is due to be ready for their return to the PL (no doubt they will win the Championship this year). Look's a fairly impressive new addition to the ground and will boost the capacity up to 30,000. See below. We are in the Putney End Stand, and normally away supporters are allocated 1,600 tickets whilst the building work ends. The rest of that stand is usually designated for "neutrals", which is a novel concept. A few stats: Head to head, we have played each other 94 times in league and cup, Rovers winning 38 times, draws 25, losing 31 times. First game against Saturday's opponents was in the FA Cup 8th January 1921 at Ewood, drawn 1-1, before we lost 1-0 in the replay five days later. I will gloss over the last time we met on the 3rd November 2021, as an aberration. I hope that we can at least prove we are better than that! Fulham's current record shows their Championship topping credentials: P 33 W21 D7 L5 For 82 A29 GD53 Pts 70 Of course, whilst our talisman marksman will not be available, Mitrovic is scoring for fun for Fulham. I think it's damage limitation, and who wouldn't take a point right now? Players/connections common to both clubs: Tom Cairney, of course. Andy Cole Ian Pearce I refuse to recognise Murphy Ray Harford Damian Duff Mark Hughes Shefki Kuqi Billy McKinley Chris Coleman Watering holes: The Crabtree on Rainville Road is highly recommended. The Temperence on Fulham High Road welcomes away fans. The Kings Arms is opposite. The White Horse at Parsons Green is a smashing boozer. 2000/1: This was the year under Souness, when we gained promotion back to the PL, finishing second behind Fulham. They ran away with it finishing on 101 points to our 91. Now I'm not trying to tempt fate, but following the Fulham game we have three consecutive home games. Rumours yesterday BD on the bench Saturday...would be a boost. Sky saying BBD not back till April? Matt Jansen grabbed 23 as our top scorer. We were given special dispensation to wear a different kit against Wolves to celebrate our 125th anniversary, and Dunny became the first player in our history to score a hat-trick of penalties in a game in the match against Rochdale in the Worthington Cup. It was also the season we demolished the old enemy 5-0 at Ewood. Still a chance we could dream after yesterday's result....? To all those going, let's hope we have a grand day out, whatever, let's hope it's not as embarrassing as last time.
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