Football: Rovers trio tear Dons apart

Blackburn Rovers 3 Wimbledon 1
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The Independent Online
IT WAS not just the Blackburn players who were back in form at Ewood Park on Saturday. True to managerial type, Brian Kidd came up with the right result when asked to assess the eight matches that will determine the Premiership fate of his rollercoasting Rovers.

"We're just looking at the next one," he said. "We're taking each game as it comes."

The trouble for the Blackburn manager is that the next one, against Middlesbrough at Ewood, does not come until Saturday week - and there is only one more after that, against Arsenal at Highbury three days later, before 17 April.

Having got his side back on the rails and shifting so impressively, the last thing Kidd needed was a four-week stretch with just two fixtures to contest. It was difficult enough for Rovers to maintain momentum for just 90 minutes on Saturday.

That was hardly surprising, though, considering the tempo of the all- out assault which flattened Wimbledon in the first half. Kidd was pleased his players were disappointed with their second-half efforts but Ashley Ward added: "We were disappointed to be 3-0 up at half-time."

It could easily have been 3-0 before Ward opened the scoring in the seventh minute, such was the pace, the purpose and the precision of Blackburn's relentless offensive play.

Given Blackburn's position, Kidd should be commended for casting caution aside and sending his team to battle with three front-line attackers. Such an adventurous approach was dismissed as over-ambitious when Kevin Keegan tried it at Newcastle, but it did not work for the England caretaker because Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and Faustino Asprilla either got in each other's way or failed to contribute collectively.

It worked for Blackburn because Ward, Chris Sutton and Matt Jansen not only toiled in tandem but performed their individual tasks with devastating effect. Admittedly, Wimbledon were not... well, not like Wimbledon. But that was because they were cut to shreds from the start by the three roving musketeers.

It was a wonder that it took as long as seven minutes for Rovers to score, Sutton and Jansen combining on the edge of the area to leave Ward with a side-footed finish. The second goal was more messy, Jansen bundling the ball over the line with the unwitting assistance of Ben Thatcher and Alan Kimble, but the chance came courtesy of Dario Marcolin's throughball and Sutton's lob.

The dynamic trio were involved in the third goal too. Sutton, showing international form following his England recall, released Ward, whose shot was blocked by Sullivan, and Jansen pounced on the rebound.

It was over as a contest by the 26th minute, though Jason Euell's effort, midway through Blackburn's second-half coast, was at least one crumb to console the 120 Wimbledon fans on their long journey home.

Goals: Ward (8) 1-0; Jansen (18) 2-0; Jansen (26) 3-0; Euell (65) 3-1.

Blackburn Rovers (4-3-3): Filan; McAteer, Henchoz, Taylor, Davidson; Johnson (Taylor, 89), Marcolin, Wilcox (Gillespie, 80); Jansen (Duff, 57), Ward, Sutton. Substitutes not used: Davies, Fettis (gk).

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Sullivan; Cunningham, Blackwell, Thatcher, Kimble; Ardley (C Hughes, h-t), Euell, Earle, M Hughes; Hartson (Ekoku, h-t), Gayle. Substitutes not used: Roberts, Kennedy, Heald (gk).

Referee: G Willard (Worthing). Bookings: Blackburn: Davidson; Wimbledon: Thatcher, Ekoku.

Man of the match: Sutton.

Attendance: 21,754.