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Match Report


Posted Sun 15 May 11 at 02:26 AM

Report: Rovers 1 Man Utd 1

Rovers still haven't secured their Premier League status after being held to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Ewood Park.

It was an afternoon when just the Darwen End of the ground celebrated, the visitors gaining the point they require to regain the title, whilst Rovers' quest for league security must run to the last week of the season.

Nani struck the bar with a header early on but Rovers grew in confidence and took a deserved lead on 20 minutes when Brett Emerton fired them in front.

The second half saw Rovers come again, Martin Olsson going close with a header that struck the corner of the post and bar.

That missed chance proved pivotal as United would level with 20 minutes to go when Javier Hernandez was caught by Paul Robinson in the box. Referee Phil Dowd discussed the decision with his linesman on the near side before pointing to the penalty spot.

Wayne Rooney took the penalty, despatching the ball into the opposite corner to Paul Robinson's dive.

Both sides appeared happy with their lot after that, and at any other stage of the season a point against Manchester United would be seen as a good result, however with results elsewhere it means a nervy ending to the season at Molineux next week.

Rovers made two changes from the side that picked up a point at West Ham last weekend. Steve Kean was able to welcome back Michel Salgado and Phil Jones for the final home game of the season, the two making way were Mame Biram Diouf due to ineligibility and Morten Gamst Pedersen who dropped to the bench.

The visitors made three changes from the side that defeated Chelsea last Sunday and one of those returning - Nani - had the first opportunity of the match.

Good pressure from Manchester United saw Wayne Rooney cross from the right where the Portuguese winger rose high in the area to head against the crossbar and over. Five minutes later Nani dragged another chance wide of goal.

After those early chances Rovers started to come into the game. A corner kick was cleared as far as Junior Hoilett and he found Samba with his cross but the Rovers captain fired over.

The giant defender would have the ball in the net on 18 minutes, a long ball forward saw Samba control before volleying home but referee Phil Dowd had long blown for an infringement.

Moments later a Michael Carrick back pass saw Thomas Kuszczak in two minds with what to do with the ball, unable to pick it up he took too long and Jason Roberts stole in, but the Rovers front man couldn't get the ball under control and the chance was gone.

The deadlock was broken on 20 minutes with Rovers taking a deserved lead. Brett Emerton lead the charge having been set away down the right by Jermaine Jones. His clipped attempt was clawed away by the United 'keeper, but as Martin Olsson kept ball in play he exchanged passes with Hoilett before delivering the ball to the back post where a delighted Emerton swept the ball home.

Paul Robinson, awarded the supporters' player of the year ahead of the game, got a good hand to a Hernandez shot on the turn whilst at the other end Martin Olsson volleyed wide from Michel Salgado's cross.

Another back pass saw Kuszczak in trouble, the Pole taking a heavy touch that allowed Hoilett a chance but the ball ricocheted off the forward and behind.

There was late first half pressure from Manchester United, Wayne Rooney lobbed over, whilst Nani curled a shot wide after good approach play by Hernandez and Rooney.

In contrast to the first the second half was slow to get going. A ball into the United area saw Kuszczak flap under pressure from Chris Samba, Jason Roberts was bundled over in the resulting melee but despite the home fans claims referee Phil Dowd was unmoved.

The visitors, needing a point to reclaim the title eventually rallied, Phil Jones imperious at the back to first block a Giggs effort and then to make a vital interception as they had men over in the area.

Rovers responded with chances of their own, Martin Olsson seeing a long range shot deflect off Rio Ferdinand, Kuszczak re-adjusting to claim the ball.

The young Swede would then go closer on 65 minutes, Brett Emerton, who was superb all afternoon, got the better of Jonny Evans to send the ball to the back post, Olsson rose at the back post to head goalwards only to see the ball bounce off the top off the post.

A minute later Emerton was at it again with a dangerous cross that Ferdinand had to glance past his own far post.

But with twenty minutes to go and Rovers on top the game was turned on its head when Manchester United were handed a contentious penalty.

The ball was hit long and Mexican Hernandez took the ball down superbly in the area, Paul Robinson rushed out, the player knocked it past him and the 'keeper brought him down with his momentum.

Whether it was a penalty is open debate as Hernandez probably wouldn't have got onto his touch, Phil Dowd leaving the decision up to the official on the nearside before pointing to the spot.

Wayne Rooney stepped, putting them level by putting the ball in the opposite corner to Paul Robinson's dive.

David Dunn replaced the injured Jermaine Jones whilst Chris Samba couldn't continue with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Keith Andrews. Dimitar Berbatov was brought on at Nani's expense, but none of the changes had any impact as both teams appeared content with their lot.

The visitors held possession for periods, then Rovers likewise, it was a strange ending to the home campaign. The point was great for United, but could prove to be unsatisfactory for Rovers.

Wins for Blackpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers means that Rovers are by no means safe, going into the last weekend of the season they sit just one point out of the relegation places.

It was a gutsy display from Rovers, but there are still nervy times ahead.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (c) (sub Andrews 78 mins), P. Jones, Givet, Emerton, J. Jones (sub Dunn 74 mins), Nzonzi, Olsson, Hoilett (sub Pedersen 58 mins), Roberts.

Subs: Bunn (GK), Kalinic, Santa Cruz, Benjani.

MAN UTD: Kuszczak, Ferdinand, Rooney, Giggs, Hernandez, Vidic (c), Carrick, Nani (sub Berbatov 81 mins), Fabio (sub Scholes 62 mins), Evans, Valencia.

Subs: Amos (GK), Evra, Owen, Anderson, Smalling.

Booked: J. Jones, Nzonzi, Salgado (Rovers),

Attendance: 29,867

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