Big Sam saw the rough ‘em up tactics used by Stoke the other week and thought that was the way to take on a much better Wigan Athletic side, it worked as they went away with a 1-1 draw after Benni McCarthy scored against the run of play and Hugo Rodallega scores a blinding header.

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE – DW STADIUM – Saturday 26th December 2009

Rodallega 53

McCarthy 30

Once again we were left wondering how our opposition managed to finish the game with all eleven players on the pitch as Blackburn Rovers adopted the game plan of knocking ten tonnes of **** out of us for 90 minutes in an attempt to stop us passing the ball around. I’m sure big Sam Allardyce will say it was a tough physical match, but some of those ‘tackles’ were bordering on assault.

Latics started the game off really brightly and could have took the lead after just 4 minutes as Charles N’Zogbia looped in a cross from a free kick after Gomez had been hacked down. The Zog’s cross however was a bit too strong for Bramble and went out of play. Titus immediately was in action at the other end as he deflected a speculative cross out for a corner as McCarthy was bearing in.

On the quarter hour mark a Paul Robinson was very lucky as he and Samba had a comedy moment, the big centre half headed back to his keeper who was miles away from where the ball was aimed and he only just managed to scramble back to claw the ball off the line at the last second. Gomez yet again was getting clattered, firstly be Salgado who rightly got booked and then by Nelson who god only knows why he didn’t get booked.

The first free kick came to nothing, but the second saw Gomez hit the crossbar after a deflection off the wall. N’Zogbia was the next to be assaulted as he received a kick to the face, but yet again Clattenburg decided to let it go and N’Zonzi gets away with a yellow. Then on the half hour, Rovers get an attack against the run of play as Andrews floated in an innocuous cross that eluded the Latics defence and land at McCarthy’s feet who planted his first goal of the season past the helpless Kirkland.

To lads credit though, even though it must have stung hard, they got straight back into it and could have been level just a minute later as Scharner met N’Zogbia’s cross only for the ball to scrape the post as it went for a goal kick. We then battled it out in midfield for the remainder of the half as the Rovers tackles got harder and harder. Chimbonda even got in on the act and was booked as we were getting the upper hand again; both N’Zogbia and Rodallega went close with free kicks before the whistle went.

Martinez sent out the team as a 4-4-2 in the second half, switching N’Zogbia and Gomez to create wingers for Scotland and now Rodallega up front. It paid dividends straight away as we started piling on the pressure and Bramble and Boyce went close with headers from corners. The pressure was to pay off in the 53rd minute as another great cross from N’Zogbia was met powerfully by Rodallega’s head and the equaliser was there.

We continued to press and Cockney Latic’s man of the match N’Zogbia was having a great time of it down the wing, he caused havoc for the Rovers defence. Scharner was getting a lot of the ball as well but the Austrian was having an off day as most of what he tried to create came to nothing.

The half went on with us dominating proceedings without really threatening Blackburn’s goal and it took until the 80th minute for Rovers to get anywhere near our 18 yard line but McCarthy’s very long range shot was well wide. Two minutes later though we saw Kirkland make the save of the season as McCarthy looked certain to score. His overhead kick had power and direction but the Latic’s keeper somehow managed to spread himself well and the ball rebounded off his chest and out for a corner.

Latics had the last chances of the game as Bramble went up for a free kick but his header was way off target and Scotland somehow skewed his shot into Robinson when a true kick would have seen him break his duck. Mark Clattenburg blew up for full time and Rovers will look back at this as a point gained, Roberto on the other hand will again look back at a match that we dominated for long periods without making the most of our chances.

Report by Jayt

Cockney Latic Man of the Match: Charles N’Zogbia
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Consett, County Durham)
Attendance: 20,243
1 Chris Kirkland 1 Paul Robinson
25 Mario Melchiot 27 Michel Salgado
17 Emmerson Boyce 39 Pascal Chimbonda
19 Titus Bramble 6 Ryan Nelsen
31 Maynor Figueroa 4 Christopher Samba
6 Hendry Thomas 5 Gael Givet
14 Charles N’Zogbia 17 Keith Andrews
15 Jordi Gomez 15 Steven N’Zonzi
7 Paul Scharner 10 Benni McCarthy
9 Jason Scotland 26 Franco Di Santo
20 Hugo Rodallega 23 David Hoilett
22 Richard Kingson 32 Jason Brown
18 Daniel de Ridder 2 Lars Jacobsen
4 Antonio Amaya 28 Phil Jones
5 Cho Won-Hee 12 Morten Gamst Pedersen
26 Rachid Bouaouzan 9 Jason Roberts
24 James McCarthy 18 El-Hadji Diouf
16 Scott Sinclair 22 Nikola Kalinic
15′     Yellow Card Michael Salgado
30′     Goal Benni McCarthy
38′     Yellow Card Gael Givet
44′     Yellow Card Pascal Chimbonda
53′ Goal Hugo Rodallega    
67′     Player Off Pascal Chimbonda
Player On Lars Jacobsen
72′     Player Off Franco di Santo
Player On Jason Roberts
76′     Player Off Michael Salgado
Player On Morten Gamst Pedersen
86′     Yellow Card Steven N’Zonzi
90′ Yellow Card Hendry Thomas