COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
On a night that suggested that 'Global Warming' be a mere myth the team failed to generate any 'Fan Warming'.
A point away,clean sheet and no card for Fellaini told the story of a scrappy game devoid of craft,guile or joined up football.
Both teams needed the three points but neither was in the mood for conceding first so we got a game of dogged resistance punctuated by percentage long balls hoping something would give.
The Blues had an explosive start that saw a Cahill flick fall to Jo who turned and thundered in a left foot shot that deflected for a corner and as far as the next 35mins. went that was it as far as goalmouth action was concerned.(can you count a Jo shot that resmbled a back-pass?)
The excitement? came in the form of defenders putting their bodies on the line to make blocks,Everton made four in about thirty seconds,and hurried clearances that suggested no out-ball was available.
With about 10mins. of the half remaining the Blues had their purple patch of the game. Passes were made to players in the same colour shirts,joined up play broke out and Blackburn looked what they are,relegation candidates.
The best bit of these 10mins. was when a cross somehow went through all in the six yard box and found Jags marauding forward,his pulled back cross saw Cahill felled in the box and before the word 'penalty' could leave the voice box the ball fell to Pienaar who blasted,alas not with the required direction and the keeper beat it away for a corner.
H/T and I have not heard the word 'shite' mentioned so many times for a long time.
Second half started and didn't get much better for the Blues as Blackburn looked the better for the introduction of Tuguy into a midfield area that was all guts,grit and endevour with very little craft.
Rodwell was tiring and his passing became a little erratic and but for Neville putting in an excellent shift we could well have been over-run.
We had a little warning when after a bit of 'pin-ball' in our six-yard box Santa Cruz lashed wide belieing his striker status.Cahill did have a tame header at the keeper and for a while that was it as far as goalmouth action was concerned.
Givet launched himself at a header in mid-field and mistook Ossies head for the ball which resulted in him going off and Ossie to nurse a sore one,however it did seem to liven Ossie up for a few minutes which was a rarity in this match.
Blackburn still pressed and gained a free-kick on the right some 40yds out.Warnock went over and took it and his attempt to attack the back-post area resulted in the ball coming back off the bar and cleared(to no-one).
Then Lescott and Yobo allowed a straight pass to go between them and leave Roberts one-on-one with Howard who stopped the ball with his legs from a woeful attempt that should have been a goal.
The manager with 20mins. to go replaced the spent Rodwell with Saha and and we certainly perked up a little with Cahill joining Neville in centre-mid. in a 4-4-2.
Although Saha was bright I did notice he was refusing a sprint,probably to protect the 'Hammy'. He was involved with Jo and Pienaar in a nice bit of play that put Pienaar clear but Warnocks challenge left him once more on the deck,we yelled 'Penalty' but in truth the Ref. was right in waving play on.
Before the end which was extended by 5mins. of injury time the Manager sent on Fellaini in place of Jo and the short time he was on suggests he may be getting enough fitness back to feature on Sunday.
The Blues were finishing the stronger and in that injury time,from a corner Lescott volleyed over when all assembled prayed for the net to bulge.
So that was that from a game that was as uninteresting as the weather. My man-of-the-match was Neville for shoreing up a midfield that on the night lets just say both Pienaar and Osman had stinkers and Rodwell before tireing learned more about these types of games than he will ever do on a training ground and will be better for it in the future.
It is said every season around this time that the result is more important than the performance which puzzles me a little as I always think the better the performance the better the chances of fashioning goals.
Looking at the bench I think you can safely say that 4 of them don't figure at all in the managers plans yet begs the question of why he brought them to the club in the first place.
10 games to go in the league and the results of others as well as our own may yet determine where we finish.
F.A. Cup Sunday and I expect the same line-up as tonight except for Fellaini replacing the cup-tied Jo and Saha the impact player from the bench.
Hopefully both Pienaar and Osman will have this one out of their system and resume a more normal service.
With home advantage I can almost smell the 'New Wembley'.
See you there. UP THE BLUES!
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