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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 06 Feb 10 at 16:57 PM

Report: Stoke City 3 Rovers 0

Rovers' unbeaten run came to a juddering halt as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Stoke City.

After two wins and a draw in their last three, Rovers conceded sloppy goals at the beginning of the half through Danny Higginbotham and at the end of the opening 45 by Mamady Sidibe.

Any chance of a Rovers revival was ended when Chris Samba saw red for two bookable offences on the hour, Matthew Etherington taking advantage with Stoke's third.

It was a game in which neither side showed any quality, the whistle happy Steve Bennett playing too much of an influential role at times.

The defeat for Rovers sees them slip to 12th in the table as Stoke go above them.

Ahead of the game, manager Sam Allardyce made just the one change from the side that picked up a useful point away at West Ham seven days earlier.

The change came on the right with El-Hadji Diouf dropping to the bench, Franco Di Santo slotting in his place.

But the side that looked so defensively resolute at Upton Park found themselves a goal down after just nine minutes. A corner kick from Liam Lawrence on the left was headed out by Martin Olsson, but Danny Higginbotham had too much time and comfort to lash the ball from inside the area through the crowded six yard box and into the corner of the net.

In what was a very scrappy stop-start half, Rovers should have levelled on twenty minutes. Good play by Niko Kalinić saw him turn on the edge of the box to find Givet who in turn fed Pedersen on the left. The Norwegian sent over an inviting cross that Franco Di Santo met perfectly with his head, but the ball went a yard over the crossbar.

The young Argentine, making his first start for a month, really should have equalised.

Chris Samba looked to have been pulled over in the area by Ryan Shawcross as Pedersen threw in a throw, but Steve Bennett waved away the claims from the giant defender.

Samba's tussles with Shawcross became one of the key points in the first half, both players eventually going into the book for their repeated clashes.

Then during a spell of no less than six consecutive corner kicks from Morten Gamst Pedersen Rovers came desperately close to getting back on level terms.

One of the corner kicks saw Samba head goalwards but Dean Whitehead cleared off the line, possibly with an arm, as Rovers started to turn the screw.

But as the game entered three additional minutes at the end of the first half it was the home side who grabbed the vital second goal.

A Rory Delap throw had to be hacked away after Paul Robinson had been blocked, then as the ball was then sent back in Mamady Sidibe arrived at the back post to bundle the ball into the back of the net to double the home side's lead, Gael Givet appealed for the offside, but it was in vain.

It had been an awful first half to watch, very little flow to the game with the whistle happy referee Steve Bennett playing too big a part in proceedings.

Ten minutes after the restart Paul Robinson was called upon to make a vital save, instinctively diving to his left to save one-handed as Shawcross powered a header from an Etherington corner towards goal.

That first half tussle between Shawcross and Samba would then come back to haunt the Rovers defender as he foolishly pulled Ricardo Fuller back as the Stoke attacker looked to break. Steve Bennett wasted little time in showing Samba a yellow, followed by the inevitable red.

That saw Rovers reshuffle. Givet moving alongside Nelsen and Olsson to left back. Franco Di Santo, who had missed Rovers' best chance, making way for Keith Andrews.

Moments after Rovers went down to ten men they very nearly conceded a third. From an Etherington corner kick Danny Higginbotham headed goalwards but Olsson was in the right place to head off the line.

Moments later it was Paul Robinson's turn to clear off the line as Fuller headed from an Etherington corner, the Rovers number one diving well to save.

After those two close calls the creaky Rovers defence eventually gave way on 67 minutes. Matthew Etherington cutting in from the left, to play a one-two with Lawrence and the former West Ham winger steered the ball left-footed past Robinson and into the corner of the net.

With the game won, Stoke were happy to retreat and defend what they had, taking full advantage of the extra man to deny Rovers any meaningful chances.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Rovers, they rarely got their attacking game going and unlike Stoke, when the chances did come their way, they failed to take them.

Next up is Hull City on Wednesday night at Ewood Park.

STOKE CITY: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Delap (sub Whelan 90 mins), Whitehead, Etherington, Fuller (sub Tuncay 79 mins), Sidibe (sub Beattie 81 mins).

Subs not used: Begovic (GK), Collins, Pugh, Diao.

ROVERS: Robinson, Chimbonda (sub Salgado 65 mins), Samba, Nelsen (c), Givet, Emerton, Nzonzi (sub Reid 73 mins), Pedersen, Olsson, Di Santo (sub Andrews 60 mins), Kalinić.

Subs not used: Brown (GK), Roberts, Diouf, Hoilett.

Booked: Shawcross, Fuller (Stoke), Samba, Nzonzi, Andrews (Rovers).

Off: Samba (Rovers).

Attendance: 27,386

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