Pete Sixsmith reports on three good points towards – er- the safety by Christmas we knew under Peter Reid, or at any rate in two of his seasons …
By my calculations, only another 34 points needed before we can sleep in our beds, secure in the knowledge that Wear Tyne derbies will be off the agenda for at least another year.
This wasn’t the most stylish three points we will win this season but it means we have had the kind of start we hoped for.
To say that we found Blackburn difficult to cope with at times would be true. To say that Blackburn found us difficult to cope with twice would be equally so. On those two occasions, we scored. On the umpteen occasions that the Rovers aerial bombardment embarrassed us, they didn’t.
We won the game because we had the quality players on the field in Jones and Cana, with a little help from Malbranque and Cattermole, who set up our Trinibagian Terror. On both occasions, they were sharp enough to open up the Blackburn defence and find a centre forward who took his goals beautifully. Malbranque’s pass was a stunner and Cattermole’s cross was absolutely inch perfect.
But the common thread was that Kenwyne was on the end of them. Without the shadow of Cisse hanging over him, he once again looks the complete centre forward. Christopher Samba will rarely have had such a hard game; he could not get anywhere near Sunderland’s Caribbean King and was left looking pretty ordinary. The first goal was possibly the best he has scored for us; real pace to take advantage of Samba’s mistake, a nonchalant flick over England’s fourth best goalkeeper and a smooth finish. The header for the second goal was a gem. He rose above the defence and planted the ball firmly in the net. QED, as Mr Cawthorne used to say at Bishop Auckland Grammar School.
Cana looks a real capture and is clearly the organiser on the pitch. One tackle left a trench so deep that it would have protected a German Battalion at the Battle of the Somme, and his general busyness and ability to read a game created a very positive impression in Seat 404, Row 31, East Stand. Make him captain, Brucey!!
Mind, some of the rest wasn’t great. Fulop flapped and fiddled throughout the game and the two central defenders never really commanded the penalty area. McCartney had a poor game and I wonder if he may have played his last game for us. His body language towards the manager and his subsequent walk down the tunnel did not look good.
Malbranque struggled at times, Richardson was disappointing while Bent worked hard without ever getting a sniff of a chance.
As for Rovers, they do football no favours with their up and at ‘em style. No creative football or creative footballers. Pederson looked as out of place and as uncomfortable in this team as Peter Mandelson would at an illegal dog fight in West Cornforth. The ball was lifted upfield quickly and frequently. I know they are missing Dunn and Reid but I can’t see much stylish football being played in this part of East Lancashire as long as Big Sam is in charge.