Lets face it, did any Rovers fan really expect anything other than a City victory at Ewood Park? Despite Steve Kean's proclamation, Rovers went into the game bereft of confidence and with the majority of the supporters having no confidence in the manager to turn things around and rid the club from the spectre of relegation.
Rovers however defied logic and produced a performance that was brimming with commitment, heart and desire and apart from the opening 20 minutes when we showed City far too much respect and allowed them space and an eternity on the ball, we matched our wealthy Mancunians in every department apart from the art of goalscoring.
This has been a common theme throughout the sorry season and could ultimately prove to be our downfall and the statistics don't lie. Nikola Kalinic is Rovers top scorer this campaign and is placed in position number 46 in the Premier League scoring charts having amased a grand total of 5 goals. To be fair to the young Croat, he has been largely warming the substitutes bench since the turn of the year but I fear we will not have anyone who would be capable of finding the net if we had to the chase the games at West Ham and Wolves repectively. If Hoilett is fit, then he could be the solution, but it is a big IF.
We have scored just a solitary goal in the last 4 matches and this does not bode well for the run in but ironically there are 6 teams who have hit the net less than us this season and our goal difference of minus15 may just see us sneak home. We have a 7 goal advantage over Blackpool and West Ham and an 8 goal advantage over Wigan and Wolves. Stoke did all of us scrapping for our lives a huge favour at the Britannia tonight and there is every possibility that the drama will be concluded on the final day of the season with an odd goal separating the teams.
The Bolton game on Saturday was always going to be crucial fixture in the climatic trilogy of games at Ewood this season but it takes on an even more critical edge given Monday night's unfortunate outcome. Potentially, Rovers could be 6 points ahead of the Hammers going into the game at Upton Park in 10 days time if we can defy the trend and gain all 3 points against the Trotters. West Ham face a difficult trip to Eastlands on Sunday and a positive outcome for the Cup Finalists would give Rovers a huge psychological boost.
Phil Jones epitomised Rovers spirit last night with some incredible last ditch tackles and barnstorming bursts forward. He does remind me of a young Colin Hendry in his first spell at Rovers in the late 80's. With our backs against the wall, Hendry could always be relied upon to magic up something out of the ordinary in defence or much further forward.
The pairing of Jermaine Jones and Dunny in the centre of midfield again proved to be justified as each held their own against City's big names and Martin Olsson and Michel Salgado provided width and excellent service only to see a disappointing result at the end of their work.
With vastly reduced ticket prices and local pride at stake, I hope we can fill Ewood on Saturday for what is the most important home fixture since we faced Nottingham Forest in April 1999 when we were embroiled in another relegation scrap. Letâ€™s hope for a different conclusion this time. After all, we are (according to our owners) "beautiful people" who deserve success.
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