Blackburn 0-2 Millwall ~ Match Musings

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A proper early start for the trip up to Blackburn, a rare treat for me and MrsB as Ewood park has remained on our list of grounds we had not been to, so with Del & Lin on board the Bonemobile with us we set off on a crisp and dry morning to head up the long and winding roads to Blackburn, Lancashire where, and to continue the Beatles theme, Lennon & McCartney once wrote back in the mid-sixties that there were “4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” and to be fair to Blackburn council, they seem to have managed to fill in at least seven of them since then.

The irony of the lyric is probably lost on the locals as in fairness the whole place is one big hole and no amount of cosmetic surgery on the roads or surrounding areas will ever transform this place into a viable option for modern day living.

The natives are friendly though. We arrived in good time and splashed out a tenner on parking in the car park adjacent to the away end. The bloke (or woman?) who took the money dutifully informed me that “we have to advise thee that after t’ game, gates will remain closed ion t’ car park until all t’ away coaches have left.

I nodded sagely as I knew, even if he/she didn’t, that we are not renowned for bringing more than 2 coaches to any game anyway so their estimate of “about an hour’s wait” fell on my experienced deaf ears. We parked up and made our way into Ewood Park.

Ewood Park is yet another example of half arsed planning. The last time Millwall played here they had just opened a ‘new’ stand. This ‘new’ stand is now a dilapidated antique of a grandstand that is dwarfed by three much newer stands, a legacy from benefactor Jack Walker who, in his infinite wisdom, must’ve decided that the old stand still had a few years left in it. Trust me, it doesn’t. It looks like the run down main stand at Selhurst Park and looks completely at odds with the rest of the place. Actually, when I say “rest of the place” I Just mean the other three stands, not the rest of Blackburn (it fits in perfectly well with the rest of Blackburn)

They do have an impressive jumbotron type screen though. HD quality, crystal clear sound system, we could do with this at the Den instead of the fucking cathode ray tube effort we have been lumbered with.

Chatting to few mates before the game, there wasn’t a lot of positive feeling about this fixture, a bad hunting ground etc seemed the order of the day and even the optimism of MrsB was lacking as we took our seats and took a gander at the team news. Trotter was out; we already knew that so it was no real surprise with Abdou back that Wright would stay in the first eleven.

Forde in goal, Smith A, Shittu, Beevers, and Lowry at the back, Henry, Abdou, Wright and Taylor in the middle leaving Keogh and Wood as our strike force.

A pretty decent away following of about a thousand were making their selves heard as referee Ilderton got the game going and with a somewhat surprising attendance of about 13, 500, the atmosphere was strangely muted from the home sections apart from the obvious, statutory idiot with a drum, so prevalent in happy clappy plastic arenas up and down the country.

We set our stall out early enough, grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck and pushing the home side back from the off. Blackburn, for all their alleged premiership quality players, looked second best in the opening exchanges and we certainly looked like a side oozing confidence and self-belief.

We had the ball in the net early on from distance but the whistle had already gone so no dramas there but after about five minute we genuinely thought we had opened the scoring after Henry had swung in a trade mark cross that saw Keogh stoop to head the ball home but our cheers soon turned to groans as we saw the lino’s flag waving in the distance like a Charlton fan on Platform 2 at London bridge Station.

We kept on pressing the home side and Wood and Keogh were giving their defence a torrid time ably assisted by henry and Taylor on the flanks and dare I say it, Wright and Abdou in the middle seemed perfectly in tandem. Naturally, the immense presence of Shittu and Beevers in the middle of defence had that area sewn up and with Smith and Lowry on marauding duty; we really did look the complete team. Forde was yet to be called into action but his time would come to shine later on.

Wood had a decent effort blocked on the line by Dann and then we watched in abject disbelief as Henry and Keogh carried out a carbon copy move for the disallowed goal with exactly the same result. This time the more pessimistic fans looked to the lino before engaging in any celebration and the flag waving wanker was giving it his all yet again so the goal was scrubbed out.

It was all positive play though from the lovely Lions as we battered the home side throughout the half but the elusive opener was nowhere to be seen.

Rovers danger man Rhodes was completely nullified by our defence but Rochina was left with too much space and he tested Forde with a decent shot but the Irish international was up to the task, saving smartly at low level and then moments later another similar effort saw Forde at full stretch tipping the shot around the foot of the post from a speculative effort again from Rochina.

Our attacking play was tireless though and Wood again put ex England international Robinson under the cosh with a stinging effort that the burly ‘keeper had trouble holding onto but the ball was scrambled away and then Keogh, desperately unlucky, saw his chance booted clear in the six yard box by Olsen, saving his ‘keepers blushes.

Blackburn had a bit of go in the dying embers of the first half but in truth it was totally against the run of play and a flurry of corners didn’t really test our solid defence, the nearest they came was a Formica effort that was always missing the target and a half-baked effort from Olsen that was comfortably dealt with.

The half time whistle went soon after and although we hadn’t got our noses in front, the general feeling was one of confidence that we were clearly the better side and if the Lino hadn’t been so quick with his flag we could easily have been two goals to the good.

The half time talk from Rovers manager berg must’ve have been a bit full throttle because they came flying at us from the off. Rhodes finally trying to justify his exorbitant transfer fee got his head to a deep cross but he missed the target by inches…millions of them… and then Olsson made our usually steadfast defence look flaky by waltzing through and firing a goal bound shot that was spectacularly saved by Forde.

Forde was again called into action as the next real chance also feel to the home side, again from Olsson who tested Forde with a fierce drive that again was superbly dealt with by the Lion’s stopper.

The aging Danny Murphy had a volley that went woefully wide and then Forde made his third superb save from Rochina’s shot that saw the opening ten minutes of the half move firmly into the home sides advantage but then we once again gathered ourselves up and proceeding to dominate the game.

Chris Taylor hit a lovely dipping volley that missed by a whisker as we built up a proper head of steam that saw Blackburn defending for all they were worth. We were now running them ragged and they wilted under the pressure. We needed a breakthrough to cement our superiority and with about twenty minutes to play we were treated to a goal that would grace the stage of any football stadium anywhere in the country. Wood picked up the ball about half way into their half and he slipped the ball through Hanley’s bow legs and rifled an astonishing shot with blistering pace that rocketed past the stricken Robinson and ballooned into the back of net. 0-1! What a fucking goal. Bedlam in the away end, the players, just as excited, joined in the mad celebrations. It was a strike worthy of being seen at the very top table of football and probably added another 300K onto his asking price…

Blackburn, already wilting, now looked a beaten side. Their silent fans, perfect for extras in a Buster Keaton movie, made for the exits as they realised that they were not going to come back from this. Never has a one goal lead looked so dominant.

When, with five minutes left to play, Josh Wright slid a perfect ball through the middle of their defence we watched in delight as Wood collected it and slipped it past Robinson for goal number two but yet again, overzealous flag waving from the lino stopped our celebrations in mid leap as the goal was ruled off side. Three bloody off side goals in one match? They were all tight decisions as well so Rovers can count themselves very lucky they weren’t on the end of a proper tonking.

With the clock almost running out Mr Jackett swapped Taylor for Malone and the sprightly winger was soon in the thick of it but perhaps he just didn’t have enough time on the pitch to get into the flow of the game because he was afforded a gilt edged chance to have a pop at goal but instead looked for the return pass and then suddenly the chance was gone.

But, with time almost up, we were treated to another spectacular goal, this time from the brilliant feet of James Henry. Almost identical to Wood’s goal, the fiery winger picked the ball up just outside the box and hit a thunderous shot that was in the back of the net before Robinson had even set himself for a save. 0-2!! Game well and truly over and a fabulous way to cap off a spirited and dominant performance by the Lions.

So, another win on the road and another clean sheet. Kudos to Forde for his three outstanding saves when Blackburn had their ten minutes of fun and also it was good to note that Forde has seemingly given up his penchant for the punch, catching everything that came anywhere near him. He had a fine all round performance, decent kicking, fabulous saves and save for one erratic throw, some very good distribution.

Some of our more, shall we say, excitable fans were singing we are unbeatable as we exited the ground and fair play to their confidence. After witnessing this win is it any wonder?

Naturally reality soon kicks in and with a tough looking game in mid-week against Wolverhampton, we need to be on our game once again and with this win at Blackburn catapulting us into the last playoff place, why shouldn’t our confidence finally be at an all-time high?

I can’t make the Wolves game so no musings from me for that one, normal service will be resumed for the visit of the train spotters though.

"Doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love the Lions". - (Hamlet Act II, Scene II).
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    I can’t make the Wolves game so no musings from me for that one, normal service will be resumed for the visit of the train spotters though.

    Fairweather , Sod it just make it up will still be better than most
    Great write up. Although Eric (aka Banana man) won't like you mocking his street