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Season 2003-04
Blackburn Rovers (a) Premiership
Date: Wednesday 11th February 2004, 8.00pm

Venue: Ewood Park

Conditions: There were concerns pre-match that the swirling mists in the area would descend on the ground - however, the murky patches over the pitch disappeared just before 8pm, allowing the game to kick off in clear conditions.

Away end: 27 Programme 2.50. 

Blackburn Rovers

1 - 1 Newcastle United



Half time: Blackburn 0  Newcastle  0

52 mins A Robert corner taken in front of the toon section was defended back to the same area, but passed the other side of the flag for a throw. With the minimum of fuss, the French winger wound up a long throw to the front of the six yard box that bounced once and passed Shearer and Friedel who jumped to together to try and gain control. However, lurking beyond them was Bellamy, who twisted and fired home from close range 1-0

85 mins
Two goals in two games for new boy Jon Stead and a strike to mark his home debut. Babbel played in Gallagher down the Rovers right and the new Scotland international's ball to the far post found the unmarked Stead on hand to shoot home from an acute angle with a close-in first-term effort that Given could only palm into the net. 1-1

Full time: Blackburn  1  Newcastle 1

We Said

Sir Bobby said:

"I was not happy with my side in the first half. Our attitude was not right, they got in behind us too many times and they were in the ascendancy.

"We could have been two down after 45 minutes, although their keeper did make two good saves from Gary Speed and Alan Shearer as well.

"To be fair to the players, they responded after half time and, having got our noses in front, it never looked as though we were going to lose the game. It was a shock when they equalised.

"But we've thrown it away for the second game in a row away from home and I'm annoyed about that."

On Bellamy:

"Craig's injured and he can't be thinking about midweek internationals - he's hardly played for five months.

"I didn't think it was a right tackle and I was amazed the referee didn't do anything about it - the defender got him in the corner and went right through him and Craig has suffered from it.

"He cleaned Craig out. His knee has puffed up, he's limping - in fact he can hardly walk - and he must have done some slight ligament damage

On Woodgate:

"Jonathan has had a slight reaction in the groin and has been examined by the surgeon who operated on him for a double hernia. The surgeon feels it is nothing seriously untoward, the repair is not damaged and it is just reaction to some scar tissue.

"I have informed Sven about him and he realises he can't pick him.''

They Said

Souness commented:

"It was a really aggressive finish (from Stead). Jon was going to make sure that the ball ended up only in one place - in the back of the net. It was like a throwback to Alan Shearer, the master at the other end.

"Apart from the goal Jon really pleased me. He embarrasses people with the amount of honest running he does both for himself and the team, and if you do that you have a chance of being a player.

"But we are not going to get carried away - it's two games, two goals. Let's see how things stand at the end of the season. He's only been training with us for four or five days and he will progress because he will be training and playing with better players."

"Certainly for the first half we were the better team - and over the 90 minutes we shaded it. Their goal was not a great one from our point of view but we kept going after that and that's really, really pleasing.

"We didn't start with Gallacher because despite what has been written Andy Cole is still a big part of what is going on here and he had a very good game tonight."


3rd goal of the season for Bellamy, adding to the pair he bagged at home to Breda in September's UEFA Cup clash with NAC Breda. His last Premiership goal came in March 2003 - against Blackburn at SJP and it's over a year since he last scored in an away game in League or Cup - in January 2003's 2-2 draw at West Ham.

Now 626 minutes since Shearer last scored.

Ewood record - Premiership

Drew 1-1 Bellamy
Lost 2-5 Shearer 2
Drew 2-2 Shearer 2
Won 2-1 Shearer (FAC)
Drew 0-0 No scorer
Won 1-0 Saha (FAC)
Lost 0-1 No Scorer 
1996/97: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1995/96: Lost 1-2 Batty
1994/95: Won 2-1 Hottiger, Clark (FAC)
1994/95: Lost 0-1 No scorer
1993/94: Lost 0-1 No scorer

Our last victory in the league on this ground came in season 1990/91 when a Liam O'Brien effort was the only goal of the game.

We've never failed to get at least a point from the two games each season we've played them. Additionally they've not managed to keep two clean sheets against us in a single Premiership season.

Our record of 8 draws away from home this season is the largest in the Premiership and only equalled in the top four divisions in England and Scotland by Oxford and beaten by Oldham (with 9.)

PS - Not a stat but an observation: Two other Premiership managers linked in the media with the job of Robson's successor. Both bring their teams to Tyneside and win 1-0. Both are 0-1 down in the return game but salvage a point with a late goal in a 1-1 draw. Step forward messrs Bruce and Souness.


Here we go again. Another dispiriting away result that saw us avoid defeat, but once again prove that we're unable to hold a one goal lead or build on it - the mark of a decent side.

In truth though, Rovers could have been out of sight well before Friedel's instinctive stop from point-blank range ensured that the opening 45 minutes remained scoreless. On that basis, we did well to leave here with a point, after looking as inept in the early stages as we did last season when we ultimately lost 5-2 after being two goals and one man down in 8 minutes.

Lacking Woodgate, our defence had suffered from attacks of the jitters every time the home side came forward, with both full backs time and again facing two men bearing down on Given's goal as Blackburn attempted to blow away memories of their fitful home form this season.

Worryingly though, for a manager who was able to field what looks like his first XI minus Woodgate, United's midfield had both a soft centre and clipped wings. That meant that Rovers were able to push on with little hindrance and when they lost the ball were only ever a stray pass or a non-tackle from regaining their momentum.

At times Speed appeared to be trying to stem the tide single-handedly with the minimum of assistance, further handicapped by a bemusing series of decisions given by the hapless Messias and his myopic flag wavers that added to the feeling that the world was against us - had one of a couple of reasonable chances for us  gone in at that stage, no doubt some infringement would have been dreamed up to frustrate us.

After all that though, some good goalkeeping, bad shooting and pass selection, inept heading and last- ditch interventions kept our sheet clean and ensured that we got back to the refuge of the dressing room for emergency repairs, which presumably included a refresher course in defending for Titus and / or some smelling salts...

Things took a turn for the better after the break, as Souness's team talk appeared to have a debilitating effect on his side's attacking ambitions, we showed some interest in the going forward with the ball department and the referee was slightly less annoying than previously. In a ridiculous interlude though, Messias awarded a free kick to United after a Bellamy challenge that was an exact replica of the one Rob Styles penalised him for at Birmingham - the consequent free kick leading to Stern John's equaliser.

We'd seen some trademark gallops from Bellamy in the first half - stopped by fair and foul means, as well as a fair bit of useful possession round about the Rovers box. This continued after the break with Shearer winning more than his share of balls pumped forward, but frustratingly he lacked the support at crucial times to seize on his knockdowns - answers on a postcard as to how Dyer, Bellamy and Robert all continually managed to be wrong-footed or too remote to intervene.

The goal when it came was from a bizarre source, as Robert sent over a long throw right to the Rovers six yard box that, along with Shearer's challenge on Friedel unsettled Rovers enough for Bellamy to twist and fire the loose ball home. No doubt Robert faces a fine for breaking what is presumably a club rule that penalises players for hoying the ball into what we're duty-bound as footy hacks to call "the mixer." We just never do it. Why?

The Frenchman actually tried to repeat the feat in the dying seconds of the game, but despite looking so weary that he could barely put one foot in front of the other, managed to encroach on to the pitch so obviously that even the cock-eyed linesman, who had missed most other offences during the evening, spotted the transgression.

One up though in a similar manner to the St.Andrews game, with the home side apparently destined not to break their duck, we again conspired not to press home our advantage despite good possession in the final third of the field.

And also like Birmingham, we were made to pay for that when a late flurry from the home side brought about an equaliser that over the whole game was certainly deserved but seemingly avoidable. Well at least we're consistent.... flattering to deceive once again.

Interesting to see the composition of our bench by the way - excluding Harper, who provided a second-half comedy moment by falling over a row of seats when straining to (successfully) catch a stray ball on the away bench.

Viana and Ambrose both featured as expected with Bowyer having played only one reserve game of his comeback, but while Shola won the battle of the strikers over Bridges, there was one other face that may have been unfamiliar to younger supporters - step forward Robbie Elliott.

There's a certain bitter amusement about seeing a player with another year still on his contract, but reduced to training with the youngsters pre-season and refusing to be loaned out to Nationwide clubs now back on the bench, for the simple reason that we've got no bugger else as cover.

Woodgate's injury and the soon-to-be away-apparently Griffin's unavailability meant that our defensive cover consisted of a transfer-listed 31 year-old left back who has played precisely 18 minutes-worth of Premiership football since his last senior league start - on this ground in April 2002.

The Caldwells and Dabizas have been marched out of the door, leaving Bramble with a clear run as first reserve and behind him unproven youngsters like Peter Ramage and Steven Taylor, the latter of whom had been in action the previous night for our youth team against the smoggies. 

With continuing doubts over Woodgate, we may yet need Taylor as cover for the Premiership, with the only alternative for central defensive spots being Aaron Hughes - assuming of course we could find someone to play right back, now Griff is on his way and that Peruvian has departed. You have to wonder, would this happen at other clubs?  

The triumphant post-match crowing of the Ewood PA monkey about securing a point thanks to new idol Stead proved just how reduced circumstances are around those parts now - those of us in the Darwen End could have told them that only drawing with this incarnation of the Geordie Dream Team is no great achievement.

Yet another wasted opportunity to register an away win then and we join Liverpool, Charlton and Fulham in being incapable of stringing results together to rise above the pack vying for fourth place, with improved form from the likes of Villa making the picture ever-more congested and our chances lessened as a result.

Thirteen league games now remain, six at home and seven away - quite simply anything could happen, but on this form we'll be looking at no more than a second successive UEFA Cup campaign as the games begin to run out and our performances remain steady but uninspiring. 

The question is, whether the Chairman sees that as failure. And if so, what he does about it.



Page last updated 14 July, 2016