MATCH REPORTS

Blackburn Versus Newcastle

Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United

United: Given, Elliott (Bramble 60'), O'Brien, Hughes, Taylor, Dyer, Milner(Bernard 70'), Jenas, Robert, Bellamy, Kluivert (Ameobi 45) subs: Harper, N'Zogbia

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Flitcroft, Emerton, Stead, Dickov, Stead, Johansson, Fergudson, Reid (Thompson 45), Matteo, Todd subs: Enckleman, Pederson, Gallacher,  McElveley

Referee: M Messias (South Yorkshire)

Graeme Souness made his first return to Ewood Park after leaving Blackburn to take charge of Newcastle United and made several changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Anfield last Sunday.

Both Aaron Hughes and Steven Taylor were recalled to the starting line up with Bernard and Bramble dropping down to the bench. Craig Bellamy had recovered from a back strain and partnered Patrick Kluivert in attack with Shola Ameobi returning to the bench.

Blackburn carved the first real chance when Reid broke down the right and made it into the penalty area riding the challenge of Hughes before squaring the ball across the face of goal. However there was no Blackburn player in the box to turn the ball home.

Newcastle got the opener on five minutes when Laurent Robert beautifully picked out  Kieron Dyer's run from the half way line. The midfielder beat the offside trap and advanced on Friedel before striking the ball home with a low shot that found the far corner of ther net.

Newcastle had another oppurtinity on 12 miuntes when a mix up in the Rovers defence allowed Laurent Robert's corner to bounce around the penalty box but no United player was able to steer the ball goalwards.

On 20 minutes Barry Ferguson combined well with Stead on the edge of the area but the midfielder's weak shot was easily held by Given in the United goal.

After a clumsy tackle by Dyer, Brett Emerton hit a 30 yard drive goalwards but Steven Taylor blocked the shot on the six yard line. The rebound fell to Lucas Neill but the full back flashed his effort well wide.

Rovers drew level on 25 minutes when a quickly taken free kck from Ferguson found the run of Dickov who stabbed the ball home from six yards out.

Moments later Rovers were on the atack again. Robbie Elliott brought down Stead just outside the area, with the United full back receiving the first yellow card of the game. The resulting free kick came to nothing.

On the half hour Graeme Souness' first visit to the technical area brought a hostile reception from the Blackburn Rovers fans who booed the United manager for over a minute. 

Gary Flitcroft was booked for a tackle on Dyer on 33 minutes which saw the Rovers midfielder enter Matt Messias' book. Laurent Robert from all of 35 yards on the right hand side curled an unstoppable free kick past a fully stretch Brad Friedel in thr Rovers net to put United back in front.

After a good inter-change of passing between Ferguson and Emerton on 40 minutes, Stead found space in the area but the young forwards shot flashed wide of the goal and safe.

As the two minutes of stoppage time drew to a close there were no further chances of the half as United went into the interval with the lead.

Souness made one half time substitution with Ameobi coming on in place of Kluivert, but is Blackburn who had the best chances with a shot from Emerton in the opening seconds of the half that Given did well to save then just minutes later Thompson pulled the ball back for Barry Ferguson to hit a pile driver but once again Given was up to the task and did well to save.

The equaliser for Blackburn came in the 55th minute when a low left footed drive by Barry ferguson was parried by Given but only as far as Andy Todd who managed to bundle the ball into the back of the net.

On 62 minutes a quickly taken free kick from Jenas found the feet of Bellamy inside the area, his turn and shot however was blocked by Neill. After bringing Titus Bramble on for Robbie elliott on the hour mark, Souness made the last of his changes with 20 minutes to go when Bernard came on for James Milner. there was a quick reshuffle with Bernnard slotting in at his customary left back position and aaron Hughes moving into central midfield with Dyer moving out to the right.

On 72 minutes Ameobi played Robert down the left with the winger making a great run before crosing in but Bellamy could not get on the end of it with the ball going behind for a corner which Bramble headed over, with the away end continuing a long spell of superb noisy support.

Moments later Ameobi broke the right doing well to pull a ball back that Matteo failed to deal with. Bellamy was quick to latch onto the loose ball and with one touch turned and fired wide.

The tempo of the game was cranked up a notch with just ten minutes to go, both sides having chances to increase the lead. A United free kick saw a delay with referee Messias talking to Ameobi and Todd for handbags ,then  Laurent Robert was booked for moving the ball forward. Messias himself left the field on play with eight minutes to go after pulling a muscle, which saw proceedings come to a standstill before fourth official Uriah Rennie tookover.

It was a frantic final few minutes with both sides looking for the winner, but it didn't come and Graeme Souness left his former club with just a point.

 

 

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