Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – Vital win against rivals Bolton eases relegation fears

Blackburn Rovers eased their Premier League relegation fears as Steve Kean’s spirited side secured a priceless win over local rivals Bolton Wanderers at Ewood Park. The defiant home side took to the field without a win in over three months and had not even taken the lead in a match since the 4-3 defeat away to Wigan on February 5. However, Swedish winger Martin Olsson’s crisp 20-yard strike midway through the first half clinched all three vital points and finally gave the supporters something to cheer about.

There is no love lost between Blackburn and Bolton; however the two clubs are linked by Sam Allardyce, who has previously managed both sides in recent years. Allardyce, who once guided Bolton to European football, was dismissed by Rovers’ owners Venky’s following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of his former club back in December. The Blues have slipped down the table since then and the travelling supporters were quick to taunt the home crowd with chants of ‘You should have kept Big Sam’ while the score was 0-0. However, they had spoken too soon and were silenced after just 20 minutes.

Bolton, who were playing their third league game in just six days, might have given the opposition a tougher test had Coyle fielded a stronger side. Loan star Daniel Sturridge and right-back Gretar Steinsson may have been unavailable through injury, but the Wanderers boss still left some first-team players out of the starting line-up. Jussi Jaaskelainen, Chung-Yong Lee and Fabrice Muamba sat on the bench, as Adam Bogdan, Rodrigo and Ricardo Gardner took their places. Meanwhile, Steinsson was replaced by former Middlesbrough centre-back David Wheater. Olsson took full advantage of this and gave the makeshift right-back a torrid time down the left hand side.

Although Kean and the fans will be delighted by the result, the Scot must have been worried by his side’s failure to kill the game off. Rovers squandered several chances throughout the game and could easily have been made to pay for those missed opportunities. Jason Roberts, Benjani, Nikola Kalinic and Mame Diouf all played some part during the 90 minutes, but once again failed to find the back of the net. Rovers might just limp past the finishing line this season without the help of their strikers; however with Venky’s looking to invest in the squad this summer, those same forwards must realise they are playing their futures.

On a more positive note, this was a long overdue victory for the home side and Olsson’s goal could be the one which keeps Rovers up this season. Kean’s men will probably need one more win from their final three games to seal safety for certain; nevertheless the manager will be happy with his side’s work this week. Following a good performance but unfortunate defeat against Manchester City on Monday night, a cluster of supporters gathered to protest against the Rovers boss and the owners. There was no repeat of this on Saturday. What a difference a win makes.

Related posts

Leave a Comment