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Match Report

 

Posted Sun 17 Jan 10 at 17:04 PM

Report: Rovers 2 Fulham 0

Rovers' centre backs were on target as they celebrated a crucial 2-0 win over Fulham at Ewood Park.

A first half strike from Chris Samba was followed up by a second half header by his defensive partner Ryan Nelsen as Rovers claimed their first win in ten league outings to send them up to 12th in the Barclays Premier League.

Watch the match highlights on Rovers Player

Having played two games in the previous five days it was perhaps unsurprising that Sam Allardyce opted to make changes to his starting line-up.

There were four changes from Thursday's Aston Villa game, Lars Jacobsen and Morten Gamst Pedersen missed out with thigh and knee injuries respectively, their places taken by the returning Gaël Givet and a wing role for Martin Olsson. David Dunn and Michel Salgado dropped to the bench, Benni McCarthy and Steven Reid, making his first Premier League start since September 2008 coming in.

The first twenty or so minutes were a tight affair, neither team able to get their passing game going as the match struggled to get to light. It took until the 18th minute before a shot at goal was registered, and that came from the visitors as Stephen Kelly crossed for Clint Dempsey, but whilst he rose above Chris Samba he headed straight at Paul Robinson.

It didn't take Rovers long to register an effort of their own and it was a stunning effort.

Benni McCarthy turned well on the left corner of the area before letting fly with a peach of a shot, that Mark Schwarzer did well to dive to his right to tip over the bar.

From the resulting corner kick Rovers took an unlikely lead. McCarthy scuffed his centre, but as Damien Duff cleared from his post he passed it straight to Chris Samba who put the ball into the back of the net with a first-time side-foot.

For Samba it was the perfect way to celebrate his 100th Premier League start for the club.

It had been a long time since Rovers had had a first half lead and Fulham came back very strongly.

Chris Baird glanced a header wide from a Duff corner, whilst Andy Johnson fired over from the angle.

But on 36 minutes Clint Dempsey thought he had put Fulham back on level terms when from a Danny Murphy free-kick he send an overhead kick arrowing goalwards. Paul Robinson stood static as the ball flashed past him, but he was fortunate to see the ball crash off the crossbar and away.

Robinson then made two vital saves to maintain the home side's lead. Firstly beating away a Duff effort, then denying Dempsey after he turned his marker in the area.

Following a Kalinić flick-on, Martin Olsson forced a save from Schwarzer at the other end, but it was a rare opportunity in a half dominated by the visitors.

Like the first, the second half was slow to get going but when it finally did it was in Rovers' favour.

The lively Martin Olsson had caused Fulham full back Stephen Kelly problems all afternoon, and one particularly impressive move between Olsson and McCarthy saw the Swede upended.

From the resulting free-kick Benni McCarthy curled the perfect ball into the area where Ryan Nelsen timed his run to perfection to head past Mark Schwarzer for his third goal of the season.

Boosted by the second goal, Rovers were able to relax somewhat and start to play more inventive attacking, a strong run from Niko Kalinić saw the ball passed to substitute Junior Hoilett who sent a ball to the back post that was just out of reach of Steven Nzonzi.

But like the first half, Fulham certainly weren't without their chances in the second. Paul Robinson was alert to beat away a Zoltan Gera shot, whilst after the Rovers goalkeeper couldn't reach a Duff centre, Andy Johnson saw his shot cleared off the line by Samba as Rovers endured a few nervy moments.

As Fulham became indisciplined Rovers went looking for a third to wrap things up, but despite exciting the crowd with spells of clever passing, they were unable to add to their tally.

But no-one with an affiliation to the side in blue and white would have been too disappointed as they celebrated a welcome win to see them rise the table.

ROVERS: Robinson, Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen (c), Givet (sub Hoilett 58 mins), Emerton (sub Salgado 83 mins), Reid (sub Andrews 70 mins), Nzonzi, Olsson, McCarthy, Kalinić.

Subs not used: Brown (GK), Dunn, Di Santo, Rigters.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Kelly, Konchesky (sub Kallio 46 mins), Hangeland, Baird, Johnson, Gera, Murphy (c), Duff, Hughes, Dempsey (sub Nevland 62 mins).

Subs not used: Zuberbuhler (GK), Riise, Smalling, Greening, Dikgacoi.

Booked: Samba (Rovers), Baird, Nevland, Gera (Fulham)

Attendance: 21,287

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