Early kick-offs on a Saturday are always strange beasts. It feels wrong to be watching football at that time. Itâ€™s as though half the day has gone missing, youâ€™ve suffered some sort of memory lapse and despite missing out on the several hours of build up and anticipation thatâ€™s normal before a home game you have somehow ended up in your seat anyway.Â The atmosphere almost always pervades itself down to the pitch as well.
Blackburn were first to wipe the sleep from theirs eyes. They started positively but without testing Gomes; two runs from David Dunn were terminated before any damage could be done (the second perhaps illegally by Corluka) and Olsson dithered when in space long enough to get his shot blocked. At the other end Gareth Bale set about giving Salgado a lunchtime to forget, collecting several Dawson crossfield hoofs with alacrity before heading towards the penalty area at full pace. Pavlyuchenko screwed various cut-backs over and wide as well as sending a thirty yarder into row Z. Even though we seemed to be slowly gaining the upper hand, Rovers were still moving the ball round confidently. As if to make a point, Kevin Bond made a special trip from the dug-out to lay into Pav after heâ€™d spurned the opportunity to put the opposition back four under pressure when in possession in their own half.
Halfway through the first forty-five Paul Robinson decided heâ€™d had enough of the love-in with the Park Lane and limped-off with a muscle tear. Rarely has an opposing player received such an ovation. Robbo tried to remember to applaud the couple of hundred supporters of his own team whoâ€™d made the effort to show up but that was lost as in fact he appeared to be milking applause from all corners of the ground.
Just as we approached halftime and the â€˜Oh no, here we go again. Itâ€™s another Stoke/Wolves/Hullâ€™ feeling was settling nicely at the bottom of the stomach we scored. Kranjcar won and took a corner which Corluka flicked on unchallenged at the near post. Defoe had rarely featured in the game thus far but was on hand to prod over the line.
After its early start the game seemed to go back to bed for a doze for long periods in the second half. The action was sporadic with Blackburn generally doing the attacking & us hitting them on the break. Dawson poked the ball way from under Kalinicâ€™s nose just as he was about to pull the trigger from 12 yards but they seemed to think that their best chance of an equaliser was to win one of the many games of head tennis that took place around our area.
Like the first, our second goal also came from a corner â€“ but this time a Rovers one. Modric shifted past one of their players on the edge of our box then found Defoe in the centre circle with a lovely outside of the boot pass. Defoe put Pav in on the right and even though his shot was straight at sub keeper Jason Brown it was too much for him and squirmed under his body for 2-0. This clownish bit of keeping made the comedy klaxon â€˜tootâ€™ that came from someone in the Paxton every time Brown took a goal kick all the funnier.
Howard Webb decided to enliven proceedings by refusing to give Gareth Bale what looked a stonewall penalty to most. Still, what use are penalties to us anyway? We made a mess of other opportunities to make it 3-0 and completely kill the game with Modric surprisingly being the main culprit with some bad decision making when others were in better positions.
The last ten minutes was all a bit Mad Hatterâ€™s. Samba pulled one back for Blackburn, also from a corner. Much to the distress of the crowd we appeared then to sit back and wait for the equaliser but Pav put us all out of our misery by turning in Baleâ€™s superb first time cross after initially scuffing his shot from the Welshmanâ€™s free-kick. Pav then had a shot athletically cleared off the line by Samba, Kalinic had a fine goal disallowed for apparently nothing and Corluka courted disaster by helping out Olsson with his cramp problem whilst the ball was still in play thus putting everyone onside.
A tidy three points gained without playing anywhere near our best. We took advantage of some shitey Blackburn defending. The marauding Bale was our best player, his solo thanking of the crowd after the other players had trooped off was returned by those still in the ground with genuine appreciation.
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