SAFC 3-0 Blackburn Rovers (H)

A comfortable win to start 2011 for the boys in red and white, and a nice way to bounce-back from the disappointment against Blackpool. 3 strikers, 3 goals, 3 points. Happy days.

SAFC started with the most balanced line-up in ages. Bardsley reverting to his natural position at right-back, with Richardson coming back into the team at left-back. With Cattermole injured, Meyler and Henderson joined forces in central midfield, with Malbranque also returning to the team. Gyan only fit enough for a place on the bench.

The game started quite drabby, with the only entertainment the crowd getting coming from booing El-Hadji Diouf at his every touch.

It took nearly 10 minutes before there was a chance of note, and it proved to be the opening goal. The impressive Elmohamady’s cross from the right when surrounded by 3 Blackburn defenders, was headed out as far as Danny Welbeck, who’s controlled volley cannoned off Ryan Nelsen, wrong footing debuting keeper Mark Bunn. 1-0 to the good guys.

SAFC controlled the game for large spells. Craig Gordon had absolutely nothing to do in goal, whilst the lads doubled the lead. Similar to Welbeck’s opening strike, it was Elmohamadys cross from the right, which was well headed into the bottom corner by the on rushing Darren Bent. 2-0 and SAFC in cruise control.

SAFC could have had 3 in the opening 10 minutes when a noticeably nervous Bunn smashed a clearance straight into Welbeck, unfortunately it went out for a throw in, but it could have went anywhere.

Just as you begun to wonder how many it would be for the dominant red and whites, El-Hadji Diouf missed a glorious chance from 3 yards out. Meeting David Dunn’s free-kick on the volley and blazing over. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

It proved to be Blackburn’s only real chance of the half, as SAFC dominated the game, and headed into half-time comfortably 2-0 up.

Blackburn changed it up in the second half, with the injured Hanley replaced by former SAFC flop Benjani. He was just as shite for them as he was for us at the Stadium of Light.

Despite having Benjani on the pitch, Blackburn came out much better in the second half, and had the best of the chances, without really testing Craig Gordon in the Sunderland goal. The good Diouf (Mame Biriam) went close with a header, and Dunn flashed a powerful volley over the bar.

Darren Bent had a shocker of a miss akin to El-Hadji in the first half. Good work from Malbranque and Richardson down the left went unrewarded when Bent side footed wide from 3 yards out. It was probably easier to score.

After 80 minutes, and Bent suffering from an eye injury, sustained in an innocuous clash with a Blackburn defender we saw an appearance from Asamoah Gyan, and it didn’t take the Ghanaian long to get on the score-sheet too.

With Blackburn still muddling around trying to make the break through, SAFC countered, and Henderson’s long ball to Gyan was coolly finished by Baby Jet into the bottom right hand corner. Zenden opting not to join in the dancing this time, but instead left it to Anton Ferdinand, who gave a much better account of himself in the dancing stakes.

All in all, a very easy and comfortable win which I didn’t expect. It will give the lads all the confidence in the world heading to Villa on Wednesday, and firmly put the nightmares of Blackpool and Man United behind us.

Ratings

01 Gordon – 7/10 – Had very, very little to do, but what he did do, he did well.
02 Bardsley – 7/10 – Hard working, unspectacular. Like the rest of the defence, never really tested.
03 Richardson – 7/10 – Did well getting up and down the left, and linked well with Steed.
08 Malbranque – 9/10 – Fairly quiet first half, but dominated the second. Very well done.
10 Henderson – 8/10 – I prefer him in the centre, and he did very well today. Unlucky not to score.
11 Bent – 7/10 – Got a goal he deserved, missed a couple of other chances though.
17 Welbeck – 8/10 – Much more of a threat down the middle. Star in the making.
18 Meyler – 8/10 – Broke up play well and looks back to full fitness.
19 Bramble – 7/10 – Never looked in too much trouble did todays captain.
27 Elmohamady – 8/10 – Cracking first half, always a danger, and two assists. Sign him up.
29 Ferdinand – 8/10 – Class today. Looked a leader, and dominant in defence.

Subs:

07 Zenden – 7/10 – Did alright when he came on, steadied the ship as Rovers came into it.
12 Angeleri – 5/10 – Wore tights the long-haired ponce. Great cross with is first touch.
33 Gyan – 7/10 – Only on for 10 minutes, and got a goal. Great moves.

So SAFC move up to 6th, looking very good again, and a free-falling Villa to play on Wednesday. Might dust off that passport after all.

Check back later for our catch up with a no doubt disappointed Mike Delap from Vital Blackburn, and then we build-up to Villa!

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