We played well in the first half, counter attacked with speed and skill for most of the second and got the breaks so by the time Blackburn were rewarded for their second half pressure with a couple of goals we were already four ahead and their net busters were the very definition of consolation efforts.
The afternoon started off rather bizarrely when at the end of the bugling of the Last Post the players of both teams broke ranks from the edge of the centre circle and the Guard of Honour turned and marched away whilst the Jumbotron was asking for a minuteâ€™s silence, something the stadium announcer had said was going to happen. Andre Marriner and his cohorts seemed to look at each other and decide there was nothing they could do so the players took their positions for kick off whilst the big screen played out scenes and pictures carefully chosen to help us pay tribute to the memory and sacrifice of others and the crowd shuffled uncertainly not knowing whether to sit for the game or remain standing.
Luckily this cock-up wasnâ€™t a portent of things to come. We opened brightly and pushed Rovers back. Robbo as ever reacted to the love-in with the Park Lane as though the tears in his eyes made it difficult for him to carry on. He was statuesque as Bale powered a near post header from Van der Vaartâ€™s corner past him and similarly so when Pav bulleted a deflected Bale cross past him later on. In between the two goals Pavlyuchenko missed a sitter when clean through on Robbo and then a penalty after â€˜Englandâ€™s number oneâ€™ brought down Crouch. The misses seemed to inspire Pav to make amends and he ended up having one of his more effective games.
A few minutes before Pavâ€™s goal Allardyce realised that things werenâ€™t going to plan and made a tactical sub, bringing on the ever popular El Hadj Diouf and reverting to 4-5-1 from 5-4-1. This change brought dividends in the second half in terms of possession and chances as Rovers pegged us back for long periods. We counter-attacked swiftly and slickly though and forced Robinson into some fine saves the rebound of one of which was steered home by Crouch for his first league goal of the season after Givet dallied after taking a touch. Our fourth came when VdV first got in Baleâ€™s way and then laid the ball (via his arm) on a plate for the Welshman to slice home.
Throw in the late goals for Blackburn (the second of which Gomes should have got behind and saved), the clearances off the line by Gallas and Kaboul and some fine reaction work from our keeper then you could pose an argument for saying that the away team were unlucky. But if were talking â€˜ifsâ€™ and â€˜butsâ€™ and â€˜maybesâ€™ then thereâ€™s an equal case to be made that we couldâ€™ve gone in a lot more than two nil up at half time.
Three points hurrah! And a relatively angst-free three points as well. Once again we looked lightweight in midfield; after they made their tactical switch we allowed too much time & space in front of our back four. But if your favourite defensive option is attack then this is going to happen. Both the forwardâ€™s notching would be a relief to Redknapp Iâ€™m sure. Warming up with the subs was a number 38 who from my perch in the North Stand Iâ€™m going say looked like Harry Kane. With Redknapp clearly worried about the back injury Pav picked up on Tuesday Iâ€™d guess that he wasnâ€™t that far from being on the bench at least. Heâ€™s a regular scorer at Under 18 and 19 levels, itâ€™s nice to know that the managerâ€™s got a young forward he thinks he might be able to trust near the first team.
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