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Match Report


Posted Sun 26 Dec 10 at 16:56 PM

Report: Rovers 0 Stoke City 2

Rovers lost their first Boxing Day match in nine years after going down 2-0 to Stoke City at Ewood Park.

There was little on offer to warm the home fans as in freezing conditions it was the visitors who had the better of the match throughout in a game of few chances.

Neither goalkeeper was tested in the opening half, but Matthew Etherington somehow volleyed wide from a yard out when it seemed earlier to score.

Five minutes after the restart the Stoke wide-man would make up for that miss however when it was from his corner kick that Robert Huth would head home unmarked.

Paul Robinson twice denied Kenwyne Jones as Stoke looked to put the game to bed, with Rovers' best chance coming from Grant Hanley but his late header was kept out by Asmir Begovic.

Substitute Marc Wilson wrapped things up in added time when he fired home Ricardo Fuller's centre.

In his first official game as manager, Steve Kean made three changes from the side that drew with West Ham United last time out.

Two of the changes were enforced as Jason Roberts and Christopher Samba missed out through injury, whilst El-Hadji Diouf dropped to the substitutes bench.

There was a first home start for centre half Grant Hanley, with Martin Olsson and Niko Kalinic back in the eleven.

Those changes meant that Rovers started with a 3-5-2 formation, a back three of Givet, Nelsen and Hanley, wing backs of Olsson and Salgado to assist Pedersen, Dunn and Emerton in the middle, with Kalinic and Mame Diouf up front.

The opening ten minutes offered little in goalmouth action, Stoke's Rory Delap latched onto a clever flick by Jon Walters but passed across the area to no-one instead of shooting.

At the other end Niko Kalinic dragged an effort from the edge of the area wide after controlling a Salgado forward ball well. Then after good work from Mame Biram Diouf the Croatian saw his shot deflect off Emerton and away from goal.

Those were mere half chances for Rovers, the visitors having the better ones, and none more-so than Matthew Etherington who missed a 14th minute sitter. A Rory Delap throw-in was sent into the area, Ryan Shawcross flicked to Etherington unmarked at the backpost but somehow he side-footed wide just a yard out.

Those chances aside there was very little flow to the game, the lively Martin Olsson saw a run merit more when he took on two players and arrived in the box, but he couldn't square for Diouf or Kalinic in the box.

Inevitably Stoke's threat came from set-pieces, two having to be scrambled away in successive attacks as the ball was sent into the Rovers box, Gael Givet in the right place at the right time to quell the danger.

Ryan Nelsen very nearly broke the deadlock as the game went into one added minute of the end of the first half, but he just couldn't connect with Morten Gamst Pedersen's centre.

It was a rare Rovers chance in a frustrating and freezing first half.

When the two sides met at the Britannia earlier this season Stoke scored minutes after the restart and this match would follow a similar pattern.

Just five minutes after the restart a Matthew Etherington corner kick was sent in from the right and Robert Huth ran unchecked to head home from close-range. Steve Kean couldn't have asked for a worse start.

Rovers were slow out of the second half blocks, with only a half chance when Mame Biram Diouf met a cross from the right, and then a miscued low shot, both straight at Asmir Begovic, their chances in the opening 15 minutes.

The visitors should have doubled their lead with two great chances in the space of five minutes. Both came from the left side, created by the lively Matthew Etherington, his 63rd minute cross was met perfectly by Dean Whitehead but he headed straight at Robinson. Then with Rovers floundering as a break broke down, Etherington used his pace to break free, again his cross was perfect but Paul Robinson pulled off a brilliant one-handed save to deny Kenwyne Jones.

The Rovers number one then thwarted Jones once again after the Stoke striker capitalised on some hesitant defending by Nelsen. Robinson standing up well to block his close-range shot.

Rovers poured forward in the final ten minutes, Brett Emerton saw a shot deflected just wide, whilst Grant Hanley saw his header from a corner kept out by a flying Begovic.

But deep into added time the visitors would eventually get a second goal their play deserved, fellow substitutes Ricardo Fuller and Marc Wilson combining for Wilson to score from close-range.

ROVERS: Robinson, Hanley, Nelsen (c), Givet, Salgado, Dunn (sub Hoilett 65 mins), Emerton, Pedersen, Olsson, Kalinic, MB Diouf.

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), EH Diouf, Linganzi, Doran, Benjani, Morris.

STOKE CITY: Begovic, Huth, Collins, Jones (sub Wilson 89 mins), Pennant (sub Fuller 84 mins), Shawcross (c), Whitehead, Walters, Delap, Etherington (sub Whelan 75 mins), Wilkinson.

Subs not used: Sorensen (GK), Higginbotham, Gudjohnsen, Tuncay.

Booked: Kalinic (Rovers), Wilkinson, Shawcross, Pennant, Etherington (Stoke)

Attendance: 25,440

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