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FULL-TIME: Blackburn Rovers 1, Aston Villa 1
Despite an improved second-half display from Blackburn, the home side couldn’t quite do enough to pinch the win as they finish 1-1 against Aston Villa.
With a first-half performance that any fan would love to forget, Rovers did well to fight back and gain the equaliser after the break. However, with Yakubu failing to meet Blackburn’s goalscoring needs in this fixture, a draw was all they could manage.
First-half got off to a solid-looking start for Blackburn. Yakubu looked to press the attack with some clever control looking to get the team forward.
An early chance for Mauro Formica courtesy of the Nigerian was quickly bungled as the Argentine attacking-mid rushed forward.
Despite their defence holding strong during the opening minutes, Rovers soon lacked possession to hold onto the ball. With passes floating astray all Villa had to do was to pick up on these to force the home side into conceding chances on goal.
With Radosav Petrovic in particular putting on a poor display, it wasn’t long before the Villains’ assaults soon paid off.
With Carlos Cuellar being given little-to-no challenge with a daring run forward, it came as no surprise as his through ball to Charles N’Zogbia hit home to take the visiting side 1-0 up twenty-four minutes in.
Still suffering from foul passing, Blackburn were lucky to play out the rest of the half still at 1-0, as even Villa’s below-average display looked enough to take their lead further.
As the second half got under-way Steve Kean opted to make a double substitution, with David Dunn and Marcus Olsson replacing Petrovic and Formica.
However, the quick fix it sought to bring certainly made no immediate effect, after Paul Robinson was all that stood in the way of a seemingly-inevitable Villa second goal.
With a ball from the wing to Steven Ireland, Robinson pulled off a diving effort to divert the shot wide before saving a second effort from Alan Hutton; though this was quickly ruled offside.
Blackburn’s luck looked like it might turn in their favour however. With their familiar dependence on set pieces, Paul Robinson took a freekick from inside the Blackburn half. With Nzonzi winning the initial header, the second from Scott Dann looked goal-bound; only for it to float over the crossbar to disappoint.
Sixty minutes in and play now seemed to be picking up a bit as David Dunn sought to add fresh options for an ailing Rovers attack.
With a host of battling shots inside the Villa box, it was Junior Hoilett’s attempt hit with most conviction; but with Villa pulling men back to cover, even that just rattled off of the visitors’ defence.
Shortly after the Olsson twins looked press their threat down the left but despite a promising run between them they were soon caught up by Villa.
With Blackburn now posing the bigger threat, yet more forays into the Villains’ box saw a poor clearance by Collins met with a volleyed shot by Morten Gamst Pedersen. Unfortunately though, even as the Norwegian’s rocketing shot dipped in-flight it proved little concern for Villa keeper Shay Given.
With a reverse in possession, it was now Villa the side plagued with inaccuracy, as Blackburn’s gathering efforts to turn the score pressed them into foul passing of their own.
Paul Robinson once again was there to counter a momentary attacking response from Villa. With an early cross from Stephen Warnock meeting Agbonlahor, Robinson was forced low to deny the visiting side a second goal.
With play entering the final ten minutes, Blackburn’s effort up-front finally paid off. After some fine one-touch passing, Bradley Orr managed a long-ball into the Villa box which was met brilliantly on the header by the game-changing David Dunn; taking the score level at 1-1.
As play entered injury time with a corner kick, Blackburn fans were up from their seats hoping a late goal could earn the win.
However, three minutes were simply not enough for Rovers to tip the scales in their favour, as both sides ended the match with a point.