Aw­ful Owls the tonic for Rovers

Accrington Observer - - SPORT -

BLUE-EYED BOY’S BLACK­BURN VIEW

AFTER a cou­ple of good shoe­ings in lo­cal der­bies, what you need for a good old spot of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is an op­po­nent in even greater de­fen­sive dis­ar­ray than your­self and Sh­effield Wed­nes­day duly obliged at Ewood on Satur­day with a supine per­for­mance which pro­vided Rovers with the op­por­tu­nity to get their mojo back work­ing to some tune.

A peer­less at­tack­ing dis­play with the likes of Bradley Dack and Danny Gra­ham sparkling as much as they had un­der­whelmed at Deep­dale and the DW and a vin­tage per­for­mance coaxed out of much-ma­ligned vet­eran Craig Con­way saw Rovers score four times at home for the first time in 15 months and af­forded the sup­port­ers the rare lux­ury of go­ing into added time with­out the fear that a late op­po­si­tion goal might re­duce the points haul. It was the first time since Peter­bor­ough in April that that’s hap­pened.

Wed­nes­day’s man­ager Jos Luka­hay sent out a team which en­tirely re­flected his own haunted coun­te­nance as the axe surely looms for him.

Rovers on the other hand played with a swag­ger and elan which re­flected not the hang­over from Pre­ston and Wi­gan but the con­fi­dence of a squad de­lighted that their own man­ager has com­mit­ted his im­me­di­ate fu­ture to the club in the form of an ex­tended con­tract.

All those the­o­ries about Dack car­ry­ing an in­jury, han­ker­ing after a move, par­ty­ing too hard and the sage be­liefs that Gra­ham can’t play more than 50 min­utes, isn’t sharp be­cause he never trains and so on proved just that, the­o­ries (and wrong ones) as the pair re-con­jured their tele­pathic dou­ble­act to put the hap­less Owls to the sword.

All four goals were won­der­ful in their cre­ation and ex­e­cu­tion.

Con­way wasn’t far off Man of the Match ei­ther de­spite Gra­ham’s tre­ble mak­ing him the ob­vi­ous can­di­date and he de­served a goal of his own but to see us func­tion­ing so slickly as an at­tack­ing unit was a joy.

I en­joyed Paul Down­ing’s surge and pass for the sec­ond goal too, he is an­other some have writ­ten off but it’s a squad game and he did well after wait­ing chance.

It was swash­buck­ling stuff and the per­fect an­ti­dote to the mis­ery of the brace of games which pre­ceded it.

There’ll be tougher tests in the com­ing weeks for Rovers. We meet five of the cur­rent top six as well as Birm­ing­ham, who would be top three had the sea­son started on 1st Septem­ber, be­fore the early Jan­uary FA Cup tie at New­cas­tle pro­vides what will by then be a wel­come break from the re­lent­less Cham­pi­onship sched­ule.

It all starts on Satur­day at the River­side but that fix­ture, while still daunt­ing, looks a lit­tle less im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine us get­ting any­thing from than it did be­fore Satur­day’s kick-off at Ewood. Ar­riv­ing home in good spir­its to see Mid­dles­brough com­pre­hen­sively taken to the clean­ers at home by As­ton Villa was also heart­en­ing. I’m par­tic­u­larly chuffed that my step-daugh­ter is off to the game on her own steam, a first mid-range solo away trip. She’s her mother’s daugh­ter al­right.

I ad­mire any­one who trav­els dis­tance par­tic­u­larly this time of year. The prices for adult tick­ets at away grounds are not pa­tiently for a in­con­sid­er­able, £30 on Satur­day, a scan­dalous £39 at Leeds and £29 at Bram­mall Lane. Merry Christ­mas! One hopes that New­cas­tle and Rovers can come to an agree­ment over the St James Park cup tie

At least I qual­ify for a few cheaper away tick­ets when I turn 60 next month!

It seems, an­nounced qui­etly by Rovers in the week, that own­ers Venkys had a rep­re­sen­ta­tive at Satur­day’s game, Jagdish Rao, son of Balaji.

While this has caused some of the usual sus­pects to throw hands sky­ward in mock-hor­ror ,I have no prob­lem what­so­ever with the lad com­ing to a game and hope he thor­oughly en­joyed it and left keen to see more matches.

I don’t ac­tu­ally have a prob­lem with the Rao broth­ers and Mrs De­sai com­ing to be hon­est but I can imag­ine it would in­evitably be a cir­cus just at present as the fag-end of the ac­tion-fac­tion longter­m­ers feel un­able to aban­don their pan­tomime vil­lain charades. There are those who would doubt­less feel it nec­es­sary to boo, jeer and chant at the fam­ily but as far as I’m con­cerned they own and fi­nance the club un­til they wish to di­vest them­selves of it or an at­trac­tive of­fer to take it off their hands comes along. Some peo­ple sit­ting in a stand op­po­site me isn’t go­ing to cause me apoplexy.or to be over­come with a fit of the melan­cholic vapours.

The man­ager has es­tab­lished, along­side the ex­ec­u­tives he trusts, a work­ing and per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with them and while things are run­ning as smoothly as they are, con­stant ref­er­ence to fes­ter­ing wounds does more self-harm to those har­bour­ing long-term re­sent­ments than it does to the in­tended tar­get. I do won­der some­times what some of these guys’ ex-wives and girl­friends have to en­dure.

Tony and the boys will need all the lift they can get from the sup­port as they take on the divi­sion’s fan­cied sides over the com­ing weeks. Let’s con­cen­trate on what we can af­fect.

Con­grat­u­la­tions too to Rovers Twit­ter fan ex­traor­di­naire Jen Bel­lamy who made and sold out of hun­dreds of Adam Reed “Gin­ger Ninja” badges for a char­i­ta­ble cause on Satur­day. Now that’s a pro­duc­tive use of en­ergy!

CRICKET CHRIS OSTICK

DANE Vi­las be­lieves Liam Liv­ing­stone showed a lot of ma­tu­rity in stand­ing down as Lan­cashire cap­tain.

And now the new skip­per says his mis­sion is the make the Red Rose proud – and re­ward the club for the faith they have shown in him.

The South African was handed the reins ear­lier this month after Liv­ing­stone quit fol­low­ing one sea­son in the role, say­ing he needed to con­cen­trate on his form with the bat after an in­con­sis­tent sea­son.

It’s a de­ci­sion Vi­las says he didn’t ex­pect.

“I thought Liam did a good job, and I fully sup­ported him,” said the 33-year-old.

“I know the team were be­hind him as well. But he ob­vi­ously de­cided he needed to step down. For his ca­reer, I think it shows a lot of ma­tu­rity. It can only ben­e­fit him in the fu­ture.

“I haven’t re­ally spo­ken to him. He mes­saged me and said ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions, I’m very happy you’re the guy to step in’. But I will def­i­nitely touch base with him at some stage to chat through a few things.”

Vi­las will get his cap­taincy un­der­way against a former Lan­cashire skip­per as the Red Rose be­gin their County Cham­pi­onship Divi­sion 2 cam­paign at Lord’s against Mid­dle­sex, who are now coach by Stu­art Law.

Vi­las is cur­rently play­ing back in South Africa, but can’t wait to re­turn to Emi­rates Old Traf­ford to start Lan­cashire’s bid to win pro­mo­tion back to Divi­sion One of the County Cham­pi­onship fol­low­ing last sea­son’s rel­e­ga­tion.

“It’s a mas­sive club,” said Vi­las, who cap­tained the side sev­eral times last sea­son when Liv­ing­stone was out with a thumb in­jury. “I was ex­tremely proud and hon­oured to rep­re­sent

Nick Potts

Black­burn Rovers’ Bradley Dack im­pressed against Sh­effield Wed­nes­day along with strike part­ner Danny Gra­ham

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