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Blackburn Rovers
April 26, 2009

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Nelsen, Givet, Warnock, Diouf, Grella, Kerimoglu, Pedersen, Samba, McCarthy.
Subs: Bunn, Dunn, Khizanishvili, Andrews, Villanueva, Olsson, Doran.
Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa, Valencia, Watson, Cattermole, N'Zogbia, Mido, Rodallega.
Subs: Pollitt, Edman, Koumas, De Ridder, Kapo, Zaki, Brown.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)

"Samba up front, Sam? I guess that's the best you can come up with.." is the kind of mature comment that's being thrown at this side, as Blackburn take the lead with a GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

after a corner in the last minute of the first half. Benni McCarthy gets up to head. What does that have to do with Samba? Well luckily we have the Rams' Robbie Savage commentating: Robbie Savage: "Chris Samba has caused Wigan problems all half and it was he who put Chris Kirkland under pressure for the goal just by his presence."

Whatever. 1-0, and safety beckons already, before the half-time pint and pie, not necessarily in that order.

April 25, 2009

OK, Blackburn fans, you'll get your turn tomorrow. Meanwhile, back at Pride Park, it's Hulse & GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Derby
13 Bywater
02 Connolly
28 Albrechtsen
19 Nyatanga
05 Stewart
15 Varney
08 Savage
33 Bannan
23 Teale
07 Commons
11 Hulse
Substitutes
01 Carroll, 10 Villa, 16 Sterjovski, 27 Pearson, 30 Eustace
Charlton
21 Elliot
32 Butterfield
12 Ward
06 Hudson
03 Youga
18 Sam
20 Racon
05 Zhi
04 Bailey
07 Shelvey
37 Burton
Substitutes
35 Randolph, 14 Spring, 16 Wagstaff, 31 Solly, 36 Kandol
Ref: Fred Graham
Att: 31541

Glancing header, around 70 minutes, top-scorer Rob Hulse from Barry Bannan's pass, just after Pearson had come on Varney.

Forest had managed a precious point at the seaside in the early game, making Blackpool rock with Dexter Blackstock's goal, so I hope we'll keep them for thrashing next season. Blackpool's equaliser and point still leaves them towering over Forest, as they're now safe. Saints, now they know they have to avoid having the 10 point penalty next season - it will be this season if it makes a difference/or can they win on appeal? are fighting all the harder, and leading play-off contenders Burnley 2-1; no, hold it there, Burnley have equalised again. Barnsley are 1-0 up over promoted Wolves... who have also equalised in the 84th minute.

Our 79th minute, John Eustace subs Robbie Savage; they've also made two subs. Meanwhile next week's away opponents in the final game, watford have gone berserk. 2-0 down at Coventry after 52 minutes, they've scored 3, and the Sky-Blues have just lost a man. Straight red.

88 (Sinfin Lane) th minute Barry Bannan goes off and Mile Sterjovski comes on, using up a bit more time. Minding their P's & Q's, it's Plymouth taking a point away from QPR.

Now it's over, and we're safe. 54 points from 45 games. Ready for further improvement with Son of Clough backed by the almighty dollar. Come On You Rams

April 22, 2009

I was driving home from the airport down the M4, past Reading as their goals went in during the 2nd half, 0-2. Still, it adds a bit of spice to the last two games.

Speaking of Delia's recipes, just think where we'd be if Norwich had the double over us, rather than vice-versa. In the soup of the day for sure.

Still, it would be a highly unusual set of results which would see us go down, the Canaries need two wins for a start, and we have Barnsley, Forest, Plymouth as buffers.

Nigel? "We've never been out of the relegation battle, so we're still in it. We were beaten by a better side, a good all-round team and an experienced side that have been together a while. It's really irrelevant what's happened in the last 44 games or 18 months, it's just about Saturday now."

We've already-doomed Charlton at home. Can we score, can we score, or is it just a goalless draw? They managed a point at home to Cardiff today. Plymouth have Barnsley at home in the last game, so they won't both pass us will they? Barnsley have Wolves at home, Plymouth QPR away, so we should be safe even before Norwich face Reading on Sunday. Unless we go into administration... Forest are away to Blackpool, on their holidays as usual, then they have Saints for the last game, while Norwich are away to Charlton, possibly meeting again next season. Let's be 'aving you, as dear Delia once bellowed down the mike, after a couple of glasses of wine.

All good fun, no worries.

April 19, 2009

For the Rams, losing to a long ball with Kuqi racing clear to score the goal within 3 minutes of Moses being sent off was a bit of a biblical rebuke to their new messiah, Son of Cloughie. Nigel? "We didn't take our chances, especially the one that fell to Rob Hulse in the 94th minute.
I thought we had got to grips with the game in the second half but I think they had a feeling of injustice over the sending off and that seemed to galvanise them. We have to win one out of our last three games - or at least get a couple or draws - if we want to be OK."

Bywater, Connolly, Todd, Albrechtsen, Nyatanga, Sterjovski (Villa 76), Savage, Pearson (Eustace 72), Teale, Commons (Bannan 85), Hulse.
Subs Not Used: Price, Beardsley.

Booked: Sterjovski.

Att: 14,736

So much for dreams of overhauling Palace; still, a nice easy home game to Reading Tuesday:
13 Crystal Palace 44 9 7 6 26 19 6 4 12 26 34 -1 56
14 Doncaster 44 8 5 9 14 18 8 2 12 26 34 -12 55
15 Coventry 43 8 7 6 23 22 5 7 10 20 30 -9 53
16 Watford 44 10 6 6 39 31 4 4 14 23 38 -7 52
17 Blackpool 44 5 7 10 24 32 7 9 6 21 25 -12 52
18 Derby 43 8 7 6 30 24 5 5 12 23 38 -9 51
19 Plymouth 44 7 5 10 30 33 6 6 10 13 22 -12 50
20 Nottm Forest 44 7 7 8 24 27 5 6 11 22 36 -17 49
21 Barnsley 43 8 6 8 27 23 4 5 12 14 32 -14 47
T>H>E>>D>R>O>P>
22 Norwich 43 9 5 8 35 26 3 5 13 18 35 -8 46
23 Southampton 44 4 9 9 21 27 6 5 11 22 37 -21 44
24 Charlton 43 5 7 9 27 34 2 7 13 19 35 -23 35

Wolves were promoted, Charlton relegated, Leicester are back up.
As for Blackburn, similar experience. Sam? "Stoke is a difficult place to play. We contained them quite well but could not do anything in an attacking sense. We were a bit lightweight up front because we were without Jason Roberts and Roque Santa Cruz.The most insignificant cross of the day ended up Liam Lawrence scoring the only goal for them."

OK Play it again Sam. OK OK, I know they didn't say that in Casablanca. When Ilsa first enters the Café Americain, she spots Sam and asks him to "Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake." When he feigns ignorance, she responds, "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.' "

Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Diouf, Andrews, Mokoena (Dunn 81), Warnock, Pedersen, McCarthy (Villanueva 68).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Grella, Khizanishvili, Olsson, Doran.

Booked: Warnock.

Att: 27,500

So much for dreams of overhauling Stoke.
11 Stoke 33 9 5 3 20 14 1 4 11 13 34 -15 39
12 Man City 32 10 0 6 32 15 1 5 10 15 27 5 38
13 Bolton 33 7 2 7 19 19 4 2 11 20 31 -11 37
14 Portsmouth 32 7 3 7 23 25 2 7 6 12 23 -13 37
15 Sunderland 33 6 3 8 19 20 3 5 8 12 23 -12 35
16 Hull 33 3 5 8 16 30 5 5 7 20 26 -20 34
17 Blackburn 33 4 6 6 18 23 4 4 9 17 32 -20 34
T>H>E>>D>R>O>P>
18 Middlesbrough 33 5 8 4 16 17 2 2 12 9 30 -22 31
19 Newcastle 32 4 6 6 21 27 2 6 8 16 25 -15 30
20 West Brom 32 5 3 8 20 30 1 4 11 8 29 -31 25

Home to Wigan late next Sunday.

April 18, 2009

That was my third comment, in Russian, put through Google translate. Onward & Upward!

I've explained often enough about being a Rams' fan whose site disappeared, so I've camped on Rovers' site, with the open offer to pass on to a Rovers' correspondent. I would prefer Newcastle to be relegated, as the Rams made 4 of their 11 points from the Toon Army last season.

We're not ready for the Premier, but well placed financially, and with Son of Clough in charge, we are ready to put ourselves clear of relegation with 1 or 3 points from the visit to the Palace today, and Tuesday's home game all about the 3 R's: Rams Reading & Relegation.

Now you Blackburn fans, having been dissed by Rafael Benitez last week - according to Alex Ferguson, who of course has no axe to grind, Benitez showed contempt to Sam Allardyce - you're away to Stoke. Sir Alex was stoking the title battle of course, with northern solidarity with Blackburn, a big club, big enough to jump-start their journey upwards at Joke City?

Stoke last beat Blackburn 2-1 at the Victoria Ground on 5 March 1988, in the old Second Division. Blackburn are hoping to do the double over Stoke for the third time in the last three seasons they have been in the same division together; the previous two being in old Second Division campaigns of 1988-89 and 1989-90.

Blackburn (from): Robinson, Bunn, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Samba, Simpson, Warnock, Givet, Olsson, Villanueva, Tugay, Andrews, Diouf, Treacy, Mokoena, McCarthy, Pedersen, Grella, Dunn, Doran.

Sam, you've licked your wounds, the injuries are healing, forget the 4-0 drubbing right? "We may not have won the game against Liverpool but with them certainly we wouldn't have lost the game 4-0 if we had some of our key players available. I think we would have put in a more encouraging performance against a very good Liverpool side and I think that we'd have got closer to the sort of performance we gave against Manchester United at Old Trafford. But that wasn't to be because of those injuries, but hopefully we'll get back to how we know we can play on Saturday against Stoke."

OK, it's Rovers' first ever visit to the Britannia Stadium. The best Blackburn can hope for is to displace Stoke in 13th, up 3 places, with some juicy games around them: Sunderland/Hull, Portsmouht/Bolton. Newcastle have Shearer - I'm sorry, I thought that was an April Fool jape when I read that he had taken the job - bringing them all the way to Spurs for the early game tomorrow. If they win that, and Rovers lose, I hope you had a bet, because the odds must be pretty darn good. Shearer, sitting their in his Northern Rock sportswear, confirmed it's another must-not-lose after taking a point at Stoke. 'boro are home to Fulham, might squeeze a point, doomed West Brom are away to Man City tomorrow. All in all, it looks like weekend steps to safety for Blackburn, with any two from three North-Eastern clubs to join West Brom in the drop.

11 Man City 32 +5 38
12 Bolton 32 -10 37
13 Stoke 32 -16 36
14 Portsmouth 31 -14 34
15 Hull 32 -19 34
16 Blackburn 32 -19 34
17 Sunderland 32 -13 32
T>h>e>>D>r>o>p>¬
18 Newcastle 32 -15 30
19 Middlesbrough 32 -22 30
20 West Brom 32 -31 25

Finally, a word about my brother-in-law, recovering in hospital. A win for his club Forest, home to Coventry, would be a real boost, and something to cheer him up when I see him tomorrow. No, I don't want them to go down, I like to see the Rams beating them, especially in next season's promotion battle. A win would probably pull them out of the zone, as the Canaries have to visit Ipswich, their East Anglian (is that abroad?) neighbours in tomorrow's early game. Barnsley won't get much joy away to Reading, but may soften them up ready for their Pride Park visit, Plymouth are home to Doncaster, Blackpool away to doomed Charlton, so both should move closer to safety.

13 Crystal Palace 43 -2 53
14 Coventry 42 -8 53
15 Watford 43 -6 52
16 Doncaster 43 -15 52
17 Derby 42 -8 51
18 Blackpool 43 -12 51
19 Plymouth 43 -9 50
20 Norwich 43 -8 46
21 Barnsley 42 -14 46
T>h>e>>D>r>o>p>¬
22 Nottm Forest 43 -18 46
23 Southampton 43 -19 44
24 Charlton 42 -23 34

April 9, 2009

A defiant "You'll never walk alone" could not make up for the depression which hit Liverpool supporters last night, as Guus Hiddink's positive approach paid in spades.

Big Sam can hardly go all out on Sat'dy, but if 'pool start with a reserve side, on the basis of never-say-die for the second leg, he may well be tempted to go for glory. What's to lose?

It's the early game, 12.45 on Sat'dy. I'm away abroad, but if anyone wants to write a report, I'll publish it.

A fan has written in...

"Hi, I'm confused. If you are a Blackburn Rovers correspondent, why are you writing about Derby County?"

The Derby County site disappeared when Soccernet was hacked into, and they re-instated only the Premier clubs on new software. I write about both clubs, with a couple of angles e.g. the Rams would prefer Newcastle to come down for next season, as 4 of our 11 Premier points came from them last season. "Can we play you? Can we play you? Can we play you every weeeeeeekkkkkk?" I think they're good for 6 points now Shearer's in charge.

Another angle is a kind of benchmarking, in that surviving in the lower to middle reaches of the Premier is what we should aim for. At least for the first year, until Son of Clough gets his eye in. Still, as each Blackburn fan writes to me, I ask "Would you like to be Correspondent?" If so, I can recommend you, and I'll switch sites again until the Rams are restored.

John Eustace has just had a decent shot just over, after an earlier bicycle kick which the goalie had to save. Rams:13 Bywater 02 Connolly 03 McEveley 19 Nyatanga 28 Albrechtsen 08 Savage 16 Sterjovski 23 Teale 30 Eustace 33 Bannan 11 Hulse
Substitutes 12 Price 07 Commons 10 Villa 22 Todd 27 Pearson

Ahhhhhh sucker punch, Gavin Rae fouled by Mile Sterjovski, Peter Whittingham takes the free kick, Roger Johnson heads in from inside the penalty box, 1-0 down.

Cardiff: 20 Taylor 02 McNaughton 06 Gyepes 12 Johnson 21 Kennedy 04 Rae 07 Whittingham 10 McPhail 44 McCormack 08 Bothroyd 18 Chopra
Substitutes 13 Heaton 09 Johnson 11 Parry 15 Comminges 29 Burke

6th corner to us, then Sterjovski almost makes amends, putting the ball just wide past the goalie, from Bannan's pass. Cardiff get their first corner. Barry Bannan's looking good. Teale linking well with Hulse. McEveley, Savage all showing good appetite, but we're losing, with 58% possession. Nyatanga on the run. Good challenge from Albrechtsen. Connolly cool back to Bywater. Even so, with the goal, McCormack Bothroyd & Chopra are hunting the killer 2nd goal.
Rae to Chopra, flag's up for offside as he puts it in the back of the net.

A last corner for the Rams, Eustace can't reach, and we're a goal down at half-time. No joy at the beginning of the second, except maybe Albrechtsen defending well. Kris Commons & Tito Villa are warming up. Half-an-hour to save a point at Ninian Park. Teale's starting to advance.

McPhail puts Rae through, he rounds Bywater, 2-0. Once again we're talking about "against the run of play" and "unfair scoreline" "no reflection", but guess what? It's goals that count, and that was a lovely counter-attack. On comes Villa for Hulse. Corner to Cardiff, Bothroyd on the far post heads in 3-0. Disaster as Derby's dead and buried. Commons on for Bannan. Todd for Albrechtsen. Johnson for Bothroyd. Parry on for McCormack.Goal difference is out to -8. See you later, Rams.

Cousin Mike's returned to Melbourne to see Geelong beat Richmond in Round 2 of Aussie Rules, so no joy there either: Geelong 15.15 (105) Richmond 13.7 (85)

I'm away for Easter, but it doesn't really matter, we're just about safe, as they get another corner with the last quarter-hour left before the long journey M4 over the bridge, M5 and across. 18,403 spectators, dozens of diehard Derby fans among them. I'll miss the away game at the Owls on Sat'dy, and the Wolves game on Monday, as Todd makes a hash of a clearance giving Johnson one-on-one which he happily converts for 4-0. Easy Easy chant the crowd. By now, Cardiff have 60% possession and all the confidence and the goals. Exhibition stuff now. Olé!

Burke on for Whittingham. Possession now 65% Cardiff, after that first little bit of pressure, we were outclassed. Nigel has a real setback here, after saying we needed the international break to improve, but he can dig deep. Let's hope we have the money to buy in the summer.

Free kick from Commons, on target, saved. 3 extra minutes. One more corner for us, Teale in, flicked at by Mile Sterjovski GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL from Eddie Johnson in his own net. We'll take the consolation, it's probably the last goal at Ninian Park under floodlights???!!!???

April 5, 2009

The Rams have a reputation for never making things easy. Even so, when Steven Bywater went for a long ball and Albrechtsen got in his way, McCann's 59th minute goal looked like making it one of those bad old days. Burnley had to win today to keep alive their chances of automatic promotion, and miss out on all the fun of the play-offs. Son of Clough took Kris Commons off for Villa, and Pearson off for Kazmierczak, but his biggest contribution has been team building. In the 3rd minute of extra time this paid off with a diving header by Connolly from Teale's centre and a GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

1-1, the 48th point from 39 games. Nigel? "We think we deserved it over the course of the game. We felt we more than matched them for long periods. We are really pleased with the way we went about it today and it's another game chalked off. We are in a better position than we were before the game and we are creeping towards that 50-points mark."

Off to Europe mid-week, that's Cardiff on Wednesday. They have a tough old home derby game tomorrow first against Swansea. Could be fun.

April 4, 2009

Sam's wrecked Spurs' faint UEFA Cup hopes even after the ref gave Keane a penalty for supposed handling - Givet given at fault while trying to get his arm out of the way of Lennon's cross. Rovers were not totally disarmed, and the ref finally evened things out somewhat by sending off Palacios, after which Rovers scored two. Sam's changes didn't look good, defender Ooijer coming on for injured striker Jason Roberts, Samba playing up front, but Spurs finished bemused, bewitched, bothered, bewildered, at Sam's throws of the Allardyce. With 8 minutes left, Samba muscled through, and passed for McCarthy's tap-in, 1-1, then with a minute left Diouf's corner was cleared as far as Ooijer, who also knows how to tap-in. Safe at last!?!

I took my Aussie cousin and wife, daughter and other family to see the Rams, and they were terrible, a no-goal-bore-draw, pretty well over-run by Barnsley. Still, needs must with so many injuries, I guess Nigel decided to play it like an away fixture - 4:5:1 - to get the vital point with survival the main aim. 6-pointers are often disappointers, 2-pointers, and the focus is shifting to next season already. Burnley tomorrow, and the international break should give us the return of Jay McEveley and striker Chris Porter. We should be safe even if we lose this one, but we're usually good against Burnley. 17th against 5th could be a test though.

Meanwhile, in the real world - at least for this site, and for those who can't see beyond the Premier - Blackburn Rovers equalised for a valuable home point with West Ham, and held 17th. I would prefer Newcastle to come down next season, as a Rams fan with few happy memories of the Premier, but the Shearer factor comes into play as they face Chelsea at home tomorrow. That could help to bring Newcastle's goal difference closer to Rovers' : they're -13 on 29 points in 18th place, with Rovers -16 on 31 points.

Anyway, it's Spurs at home, overnight showers, warm day, the early game at 12.45. Roque Santa Cruz will miss his fifth successive game with his knee tendon injury, David Dunn's still out, as is Vince Grella. Spurs won't have Defoe. Blackburn (from): Robinson, Bunn, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Nelsen, Samba, Simpson, Warnock, Givet, Olsson, Villanueva, Tugay, Andrews, Diouf, Treacy, Mokoena, McCarthy, Roberts, Pedersen, Grella.

Tottenham (from): Gomes, Cudicini, Corluka, Hutton, Chimbonda, Bale, Assou-Ekotto, King, Woodgate, Dawson, Modric, Jenas, Zokora, Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, O'Hara, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko, Campbell, Keane, Bent.

Back at Pride Park, Kris Commons could be ready for the Clarets... Forest are away to Barnsley, I doubt if they'll have much joy there. Still, it's a funny old game.