No goals, no great creativity, precious few thrills – and yet they’re queueing up to say what they think. First Monsieur Salut! with his immediate post-match thoughts, later Pete Sixsmith will doubtless tell us the highlight of his evening occurred on the other side of the Pennines long before kickoff. Between those two grumps, let’s hear from a deeply unimpressed Luke Harvey …
As I jumped in my best friend’s car to nip up to the pub, and avoid the admittedly rather short walk, I was told Monday night’s match would either be “brilliant, or very bad”.
I laughed at my friend’s naivety, how could he be so daft? “Oh it’s going to be awful. This match will be truly, truly awful.” I replied, entirely seriously as well. He laughed, I laughed and we went and watched the truly, truly awful match together.
After playing so well against Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd – although thanks to West Brom our results against two of those teams suddenly seem somewhat less emphatic, and Liverpool are just rubbish – it was guaranteed that as we came up against a completely different team in Blackburn, we would revert to our typical hit and hope tactics in a match that was always going to be very closed and defensive.
True, it was a long ball from which a hopeful Bardsley pass/through ball/tackle presented our best chance. Bent tangled with Samba, leaving his Congolese opponent lying on the floor and finding himself one-on-one with Robinson. The result was a good save coupled with an atrociously scuffed shot; and that effort should have acted as the warning sign for the rest of the match.
Mignolet spent 90 minutes coming off his line and punching away Pedersen crosses, corners and throw ins. Only once did he fail to come near the ball and get it away to safety, Titus Bramble rescued the team by putting it out for a corner.
Sam Allardyce will have been keen to use national TV as a platform to portray his team as a fair and clean group of players, Samba’s red card was more slip than premeditated trip, but the resultant red card was the correct outcome. As was the free kick subsequently awarded, as opposed to a penalty.
Lee Cattermole, too, will have been wanting to prove a point. Following a controlled and restrained performance as he lead the charge against Manchester United before the international break, he once again managed to avoid a yellow card but the usual tenacity was clearly lacking from his performance.
It would be fair to say the match didn’t come alive until there was about 25 minutes left. Both managers rang the changes, Gyan and Benjani came on for their respective teams and a new found attacking nature was found. Our record signing Gyan came close when he made Robinson stretch, having instantly set up Bent with his first touch.
Zenden would also go close with a header but in the end a 0-0 draw was pretty much all either team deserved for leaving it so late before even looking to attack their opposition.
My fellow contributor Pete Sixsmith summed it up best in his brilliant Sixer’s Sevens. “A complete waste of a Monday night.” After all, I could have been writing an essay on Electoral Reform.