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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

Monday 16th April.

Just two days after facing the league leaders we had to make the short visit over the big hill to Ewood Park to tackle the other team likely to feature in the top flight next season. Despite having a £5 offer for seats I elected to give this one a miss having witnessed the abject performance last year which cost me around 5 times as much to suffer. I had the opportunity to enjoy their hospitality with a couple of friends having been offered seats in their executive section with priority car parking and a full carvery lunch included. I must say that the lunch was absolutely superb but it was strange watching the game from behind glass, the match being devoid of atmosphere. Being surrounded by Blackburn fans made the 2-0 scoreline to the hosts even less bearable.

Andy Booth was still absent as a result of his ankle injury and Delroy Facey was left to plough his lone furrow up front, and the only change from Saturday was Adie Moses replacing the injured Jon Dyson. This was disappointing because Dyson and Lucketti seem to have formed a reasonable partnership and we could rest assured that our defence would be severely tested against opposition of Blackburn’s calibre.

The game was a 12 o’clock kick-off for the benefit of the Sky TV cameras who doubtless expected a hatful of goals for the team in blue and white; unfortunately we were in our away strip of red and red. With the obvious gulf in ability between the two sides Town made it clear from the start that they were intent on preserving a clean sheet and that any attacking ambitions were a secondary consideration. Despite the inclusion of Moses who doesn’t have the physical presence or genuine ability to be a truly effective defender, Town defended well with Lucketti and Jenkins tackling effectively, well supported by Holland and Armstrong covering from midfield. The only chance created by Town in the early stages was an overhead kick by Dean Gorré from a Simon Baldry cross but the ball passed harmlessly wide of the target.

Resolute defending restricted Rovers to the odd half chance and the opening passage of the game was a complete non-event with a couple of potentially dangerous crosses easily saved by Nico Vaesen before David Dunn finally created a chance in the 21st minute that was thankfully dragged wide of the target. Having fired this warning shot across Town’s bows Blackburn began to be more enterprising and Town began to struggle to contain the hosts and there was almost a feeling of inevitability when they took the lead on the half hour.

Having cleared one attack the ball was played into the Town penalty area to be met by Marcus Bent who was given far too much time by the daydreaming Moses, and his header across goal was easily met by Gary Flitcroft and past the helpless Vaesen from 10 yards out. The goal was perhaps unkind on Town, but if you set your stall out to defend then defend you must, and you cannot afford lapses of concentration especially against a side of the quality of Blackburn. The expected onslaught on the visitor’s goal failed to materialise though, and Town continue to defend doggedly and even managed to create a couple of chances of their own.

Soon after the goal Facey met a Steve Jenkins cross but his header looped over the bar, and then in the 41st minute the young striker tried to latch onto a weak back pass but keeper Brad Friedel was first to the ball and booted it away to safety. There was always a sense that the ever-willing Facey was never really going to have much of a sniff against Henning Berg and Craig Short and a recovery never really looked on the cards. The remainder of the half passed without much incident, but clearly a change of tactics would be needed if we were to rescue the situation.

Dean Gorré had been a virtual spectator for long periods of the first half, and when he did manage to win possession was guilty of needing too much time on the ball and was easily robbed. For once these events did not elude the Town coaching staff and Kenny Irons was introduced at half-time to try to hold the ball up in midfield, give some respite to the overworked defenders and hopefully provide some service to the isolated Facey. Unfortunately these more positive aspirations bit the dust 5 minutes into the second half when Nico Vaesen was sent off for handling the ball outside the area.

The Belgian has not enjoyed a good Easter after gifting Fulham the winner on Saturday, and his miserable holiday weekend continued when Matt Jansen raced towards the Town goal and Nico Vaesen rushed from his line to try to clear the danger instinctively raised his arm to block Jansen’s attempted lob, unfortunately just outside the 18 yard box. After a consultation between referee and linesman it was decided that it was a goalscoring chance, and Peter Walton fished the red card out of his pocket to bring a premature end to Vaesen’s afternoon.

After almost two years of bench warming Martyn Margetson was able to make his debut for the first team with Ben Thornley being sacrificed as Town were reduced to 10 men. The free kick ensuing from the dismissal was rifled over the bar and soon afterwards Margetson wasn’t troubled by a David Dunn effort that ended up in the crowd. Despite the possession enjoyed by Rovers Town stuck to their task of ensuring that the expected rout didn’t materialise, and the home crowd began to get a little frustrated at their teams lack of penetration. When they did manage to breach the defence they found Margetson in no mood to capitulate with the Welshman smothering an effort at the feet of Marcus Bent on 65 minutes and pulling off a double stop a few minutes later from Jansen and Mahon.

Numerically challenged Town began to set about the hosts in more determined fashion, and created a glorious chance in the 69th minute when Kenny Irons received a return ball from Simon Baldry, and his floated ball into the Blackburn area was exquisitely controlled by Craig Armstrong who then rifled in a superb shot that evaded Friedel only to see it hit the inside of the post and bounce to safety. Blackburn almost seemed content with the 1-0 scoreline and wasted time by passing the ball amongst themselves, and although this might have been very pretty it was hardly the tactic expected of a top two side playing against a relegation threatened team.

Sensing that an equaliser might be possible, Macari sent Kevin Gallen on in the 85th minute to replace the unconvincing Adie Moses, although the striker didn’t really have time to settle into a game where the home defence was on top and failed to make any tangible contribution. Unfortunately, the thinned down defensive line-up probably contributed to Blackburn doubling their lead in the last minute. A through ball was played to Mark Hughes, and despite the attentions of three defenders he used his experience to hold them off and back heel the ball to the unmarked Matt Jansen who buried the ball into the back of the net with Margetson helpless. It was just a question of playing out time as Town didn’t have it in them to recover from 2-0 down in the few minutes of injury time that were added even though they did manage it in a home televised thriller a couple of years ago.

The score perhaps flattered Blackburn a little who had struggled to penetrate a well organised and very determined Town defence and midfield, but at the end of the day it was another zero points return at a time when we desperately need to drag ourselves away from the bottom 3. There are only 4 games left, 2 of which are against play-off chasing teams and although Crystal Palace lost again along with Stockport, Portsmouth drew and Grimsby won edging them nearer to the probable safety mark of 50 points. I seem to say this every time we lose, but we simply cannot rely on other teams cocking things up, we must go out and get the results for ourselves starting with the game at home to QPR next Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers 2 (Flitcroft 30, Jansen 90)


Position in table – 21st

Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Lucketti; Moses (Gallen 85); Heary; Thornley (Margetson 52); Armstrong; Holland; Facey; Gorré (Irons 46); Baldry. Subs not used – Gray; Brennan.

Blackburn Rovers – Friedel; Curtis; Short; Berg; Bjornebye (Berkovic 59); Gillespie (Hignett 46); Flitcroft; Dunn; Mahon; Jansen; Bent (Hughes 71). Subs not used – Johnson; Filan.

Referee – Peter Walton (Northampton). Attendance 29,426



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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