Misery For Blackburn Rovers As Ward Fires Wolves To Victory

What an interesting way to bookend a summer.

Misery for Blackburn Rovers after Stephen Ward fires Wolves to victory These sides met at Molineux on a frantic denouement on the last day of last season and it is a safe enough to assume that neither set of fans leapt for joy when the fixture secretary arranged for them to again meet so swiftly.

Rarely do lazy summer days pass with Blackburn fans dreaming of victory over Wolves, and vice versa, but while this game may not appeal to the aesthete, that previous encounter in May was a compelling 3-2 victory for Rovers and this game tried vainly to equal its predecessor in the entertainment stakes.

It is far too early to suggest this match was a six-pointer, but if events had gone in a different direction during those last 90 minutes in May, these two could quite easily have been facing each other in the Championship this term.

Early points are therefore a must for both sides and that may well help explain the frenetic pace and tempo, particularly in the first half. Both clubs have recruited over the summer, with Rovers having had to cope with the loss of Phil Jones to Manchester United as well as starting new striking hope David Goodwillie on the bench.

Jamie O'Hara's move from Tottenham Hotspur to Wolves on a permanent basis has, and will, add more solidity and vision to their attacking venture and their defence coped admirably with Rovers' early attempts to penetrate them here.

A Junior Hoilett effort within four minutes looked to have crossed the line before Wayne Hennessey's long claw-out heroically kept the scores even but the impasse seemed destined to only last so long. After 20 minutes, a lean-looking Jason Roberts tried, tried and tried again to break down the Wolves defence and managed to do so as his ball found debutant Mauro Formica inside the penalty area, who squirmed the ball past the again desperate Hennessey.

Yet the goal served only to inspire the visitors, who almost immediately equalised, thanks to an unmarked Steven Fletcher header. The sense that both sides had more goals in them remained bubbling under the surface, although half-time arrived with no further progress.

That was immediately rectified after the break when Michel Salgado was adjudged to have tripped Matt Jarvis. Although Paul Robinson saved Kevin Doyle's penalty, the stunning volley scored by Stephen Ward in the panicky aftermath gave Wolves the advantage.

Rovers started to drift out of the contest following Ward's effort and that was a shame, particularly as their defence had coped so manfully without first-choice central defenders Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba.

Their determination at the back could not be matched by proficiency in attack and Wolves also changed their priorities late on in order to maintain their lead.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Chris Brereton at Ewood Park, for The Observer on Saturday 13th August 2011 17.11 Europe/London

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