Blackburn beat a lacklustre Villa side with 2 goals from Gamst-Pederson, who was the bright jewel of 2 ordinary looking sides.
The game started at a fast pace with early signs that Blackburn meant business as they won the first of a handful of free kicks on the edge of the area. Villa countered with good work from Downing and Robinson turning a good chance for a corner. It was 100 mile per hour stuff, but gradually Blackburn got a grip on the game.
Villa’s new approach of playing the ball down the pitch was getting unraveled by the Blackburn forwards, Roberts and Diouff’s willingness to work hard and put pressure on the back four when they had possession pai off and Blackburn got a foothold in midfield. The strength of their middlemen was too much of a match for Villa’s lightweights Ireland, Hogg and Bannan.
In the box, the home side’s height was also proving to be a handful for Villa’s defence. Only Friedel, Dunne and Clarke were over 6ft on the Villa side. It seemed only a matter of time before all the set pieces Rovers were winning would pay off.
Just before the break, an innoculous looking challenge left Warnock clutching his head on the ground. Things got testy with Richard Dunne accusing the always controversial Diouff of elbowing the left back, while the African striker insisted he was the one being elbowed. It did seem more like a clash of heads.
In injury time of the first half, Warnock seemed to go for the retribution challenge on Diouff, tripping him with the ball out of reach. Pedersen hit a sweet free-kick that swerved in and found its way into the Villa net.
Villa looked more poised in the second half and began to grab the midfield. The Blackburn back four was finally being tested. Ashley Young saw a very good header rattle the bar. But despite their new dominance, it was Blackburn who grabbed the second. In the 63rd minute Roberts robbed Ireland and but wasted his opportunity, then on another counter Blackburn won a 66th minute corner. Villa tried to scramble clear, a good Villa block fell perfectly for Pedersen, who smashed his shot home.
Houllier had seen enough and brought off the once again ineffective Ireland and gave Robert Pires his Villa debut. The Frenchman’s first action was to put Jones off his shot. Delfouneso came on for Agbonlahor was immediately more lively than the Villa favourite had been and Hogg was switched out for Aussie Chris Herd.
Downing had a shot that Robinson could only parry into the middle of his own box, but his defenders won the footrace to the ball and the former England keeper looked very relieved. On Herds introduction Rover’s cleared a header off the line and Delfouneso got through the back of the defence on 3 occasions, but the youngster never got the rub of the green on any of them.
Villa were left wondering how to get past Samba, who was immense at the back, and despite some nice passing, they never penetrated the Rovers area. The home side’s P.A. announced unsurprisingly that the often maligned winger, Pedersen, was man of the match, so the Blackburn fans may get off his back this week at least.