Club Focus – Blackburn – Spurs edge out Rovers as Samba signs new deal

On a day which saw team captain Chris Samba sign a new Blackburn Rovers contract, the Blues were unfortunate to slip to defeat against Champions League outfit Tottenham Hotspur at Ewood Park. Blackburn owner Anuradha Desai watched on as her side battled hard to try and force an equaliser, but in the end it was just not meant to be. However, despite the result, Steve Kean’s men still remain in the top half of the Premier League table, albeit having played a game more than some of their closest rivals.

There was a great round of applause from the home faithful after a verbal message from Mrs Desai appeared on the screen prior to kick-off. Venky’s did come in for some criticism from fans in December over the sacking of former boss Sam Allardyce, however, thanks to some new arrivals coming into the club during the January transfer window, all appeared to be forgiven on Wednesday night.

Ironically, it was Samba’s mistake which led to the only goal of the game, when he allowed Peter Crouch to rise above him and head home after just three minutes. Crouch has a habit of scoring goals against Blackburn – his only other strike this season came against the same opposition at White Hart Lane, whilst he also bagged a brace at Ewood Park last season.

Despite the early goal, Rovers were still very much in the game throughout the encounter. Spurs were not at their best and although they enjoyed more of the possession, Harry Redknapp’s side relied heavily on goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to keep them in the game. Spurs had to withstand heavy pressure from the home side during certain spells of the match, but in the end the Londoners kept a clean sheet and picked up three vital points as they aim to get back into the Premier League’s top four.

As has been the case over the last couple of months, Rovers looked particularly threatening from wide positions, as pacey youngsters Junior Hoilett and Martin Olsson did their best to try and bamboozle their way past the opposition full-backs. However, as impressive as the home side were down the wings, they were equally poor in the middle of the park. The Blues looked lightweight in the centre for large periods of the game, with former MK Dons skipper Keith Andrews largely to blame and having to face a chorus of boos from his own fans. Andrews, who has recently come back from injury, put in a lacklustre performance, though much to the disappointment of supporters he lasted the full 90 minutes. The midfielder simply did not close down or even attempt to dispossess his opponents for much of the match, allowing Spurs to control the game in terms of possession.

The Blues will now face local rivals Wigan on Saturday and Kean will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways. New signings Mauro Formica and Ruben Rochina are again unlikely to take part as they adapt to life in England, nevertheless if Blackburn test the Latics goalkeeper as much as they tested Gomes on Wednesday, Rovers should be able to get at least a point against their relegation-threatened rivals.

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