Welcome SuperKev to the ranks of football pundits (well, I hadn’t heard him in that role before even if you had). Clearly intent on a media career, he was scrupulously even-handed in his comments on events for Sky.
He shared our astonishment at Darren Bent’s first half miss and praised Titus Bramble’s display to the hilt – “my Sunderland friends”, he said, had raised eyebrows at the signing but he had proved a rock.
But he (correctly) criticised Lee Cattermole’s Chamakh-style dive earlier – Dunn was almost as guilty in the second half; both escaped cards – talked (correctly) of Rovers domination when there was a period of it, and almost willed them to survive the free kick after Samba’s dismissal (correct) for bundling over Welbeck in a position judged (correctly, again) by the ref, Lee Probert, who was outstanding, to be outside the box.
Kevin Phillips needn’t have worried. Since that rocket of a Kieran Richardson free kick to beat Newcastle United two or three seasons ago. there has probably not been a single instance of SAFC fans expecting a goal from such a spot. And survive, fairly comfortably, Blackburn did.
It was a poor first half, all told. Bent’s glaring one-on-one miss apart, we created little, partly because we were unable to bring Welbeck and Malbranque as much into the game as should have been the case. And partly because we kept surrendering midfield possession and stupid free kicks bringing pressure on our goal.
And it was poor second half too. With rare numerical advantage, and displaying most of the modest amount of skill on show in difficult conditions, we could and should have imposed ourselves after the break. Bent missed another very decent chance, Gyan had a reasonable shot saved, Zended shot tolerably well but well wide and Bardsley offered a comical last-ditch, long-range effort that had Steve Bruce shaking his head. There wasn’t much else and we were grateful that Benjani played like he did at Sunderland when he came on briefly before being hurt.
And Kevin Phillips? A safe pair of broadcasting hands, with wise and witty moments and a fair judgement on Bent. “If he doesn’t score now,” he said late on after a poor header that should have been a good header and a goal, “he won’t sleep tonight. I wouldn’t.”