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Match Report


Posted Mon 18 Oct 10 at 22:24 PM

Report: Rovers 0 Sunderland 0

Ten-men Rovers earned themselves a worthy point with a hard working goalless draw against Sunderland at Ewood Park.

Rovers' captain Chris Samba received his marching orders in first half injury-time to hand the visitors the numerical advantage, but against a resolute defence and Paul Robinson in fine form in goal at the back the visitors couldn't make it count.

The home side started brightly with Niko Kalinić threatening from headed opportunities, but it was Morten Gamst Pedersen who tested Mignolet in the Sunderland goal with an in-swinging free-kick that the Belgium stopper had to backtrack to tip over.

His counterpart in the Rovers goal made the key save of the first half when Robinson denied Darren Bent when through on goal.

But Rovers put the blow of losing Chris Samba for his professional foul on Danny Welbeck at the end of the first half firmly behind them with a stirling second half display.

Despite a man light, Rovers showed no signs of being over-run at the back and in Paul Robinson Sunderland came across a man in imperious form. One save to deny substitute Asamoh Guan the pick of the bunch.

Robinson left the field at the final whistle with a bloodied mouth after a brave challenge with Bent, it typified his and Rovers' display.

Ahead of the game just the two changes were made to the Rovers starting eleven from their last league outing over a fortnight earlier.

An injury to Ryan Nelsen picked up on international duty meant that Martin Olsson came in at the back four at left back with Gael Givet moving inside to partner Chris Samba at the heart of the Rovers defence. The other change was up front as Niko Kalinić was preferred to Mame Biram Diouf in attack.

In torrential rain, the match started at a fast and furious pace, Sunderland defender Titus Bramble having to scramble away an early centre to deny the threatening El-Hadji Diouf and Niko Kalinić.

At the other end an in-swinging free-kick from Joran Henderson saw Paul Robinson struggling to reach the ball but was thankful Michael Turner couldn't connect at the back post.

Lee Cattermole escaped a booking when he went to ground in the Rovers box under little in the way of a challenge from Gael Givet, the same couldn't be said for Brett Emerton as he saw yellow for a late lunge on Phil Bardsley.

As the rain eased Rovers grew more into the game, Morten Gamst Pedersen almost caught out Sunderland with a free-kick on the right. The Norwegian whipping the ball in goalwards but Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal just got back in time to tip over.

More good work from Pedersen saw him centre for Diouf but not for the first time Bramble got an important block in.

Aside from Jordan's early cross, the visitors hadn't threatened Paul Robinson's goal. An overhead kick from Danny Welbeck didn't trouble the Rovers 'keeper, but Darren Bent certainly did on 25 minutes. A ball forward saw Givet struggling and Bent took the ball on through on goal only for Robinson to pull off a superb save to deny the England striker prompting "too good for England" chants from the home supporters.

Niko Kalinić saw a header saved from Olsson's centre, then from a strong run from El-Hadji Diouf the Croatian connected well with the ball but this time put his header wide of goal.

Rovers were doing the pressing and probing but there was to be late drama at the other end of the pitch at end of the first half.

As the clock ticked over into the second minute of time added on a pass back from Pedersen was mis-controlled by Samba, Welbeck nipped in to claim possession before going to ground under the Rovers captain's clumsy challenge.

The linesman on the far side said no penalty, but indicated a foul had been committed. After a quick consultation with the official referee Lee Probert issued Samba a straight red card as last man.

After all the attention towards Rovers' disciplinary record in recent weeks it was perhaps inevitable there would be a sending off.

The free-kick meant Rovers had to endure a nervy last minute, but Phil Bardsley saw his 20 yard strike blocked by the wall, Darren Bent saw his rebound put wide.

Samba's sending off saw a shuffle at the back at the start of the second half, Phil Jones moving out of midfield to centre half as Rovers switched to a 4-4-1 formation.

The early second half signs weren't promising when wide man Ahmed Elmohamady sent over a peach of a cross, but Bent, so often predatory against Rovers, powered his header wide of goal.

A free kick at the other end saw Sunderland scrambling to clear their lines, Nzonzi starting the melee as he out jumped Mignolet but Kalinić and then Jones couldn't take advantage.

Both sides made changes just past the hour mark. Former Sunderland striker Benjani replacing Kalinić for Rovers, whilst Sunderland sacrificed a defender in Nedum Onuoha bringing on World Cup star Asamoh Gyan to bolster their forward line.

Rovers responded by taking off Michel Salgado to give David Dunn his long-awaited return to action.

As both sides worked out who was playing where, Darren Bent beat the offside trap but Robinson was again alert to the situation to race off his line to clear the ball. Malbranque lobbed the loose ball over the bar.

Despite being a man shy Rovers worried their opponents, Pedersen's high ball into the box seeing Nzonzi threaten but Mignolet held firm.

Then the two Rovers subs combined as Dunn fed Benjani down the right channel but the former Zimbabwe international slashed wide.

The torrential rain didn't dampen the spirits of both sets of fans, vociferous in their support for their team leading to an excellent atmosphere as the game entered the final stage.

Another free-kick into the Sunderland box saw Nzonzi head across goal, but Benjani just couldn't connect with an outstretched boot and was clattered for his troubles, resulting in him having to leave the pitch due to concussion with Mame Biram Diouf on to replace the substitute.

A wonderful cross-field pass from Elmohamady picked out Gyan, the Ghanaian curling a shot to the back post only for Robinson to dive to his left to pull off another brilliant save.

Sunderland sub' Bolo Zenden saw an effort going a foot wide, whilst Bent headed straight at Robinson, but in added time there was a late scare for Rovers as the striker and Rovers' keeper collided resulting in both players needing treatment.

Robinson ended the game with a cut mouth but nothing was to deny him and Rovers.

Allardyce didn't get the win to see Rovers go above their ten-point target, but the goalless draw certainly felt like a win for the manager.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado (sub Dunn 65 mins), Samba (c), Givet, Olsson, Nzonzi, Jones, Emerton, Pedersen, EH DIouf, Kalinić (sub Benjani 64 mins (sub MB Diouf 81 mins)).

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Hoilett, Morris, Chimbonda.

SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Cattermole, Malbranque (sub Zenden 76 mins), Henderson, Bent, Onuoha (sub Gyan 64 mins), Welbeck, Bramble, Elmohamady.

Subs not used: Gordon, Mensah, Da Silva, Riveros, Ferdinand.

Booked: Emerton, Kalinić (Rovers), Elmohamady (Sunderland).

Off: Samba (Rovers).

Attendance: 21,894

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