Sam Allardyce knows a bit about centre-forwards, having marked hundreds, sometimes literally, in his days as a defensive bruiser. So when the Blackburn manager suggested Jason Roberts ought to show his "snarling bulldog" side more often, the two-goal substitute might have been expected to lap up the advice.
After watching Roberts play the key role in overturning the lead Jamie O'Hara had given Portsmouth, Allardyce said the 31-year-old "should be the ugly bulldog, snarling and biting and snapping at centre-halves all day". Roberts seemed less than thrilled by the canine comparison. "I'm not sure about that," he said. "I just do what I do. I've played at this level a long time and I'm confident I can cause problems and score goals."
The former Wigan player, squeezed out by Allardyce's preference for Franco Di Santo, added: "He put me and Benni [McCarthy] in last year and we performed well under big pressure. There's no point looking at other players, trying to learn. I'm too old for that. You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
Old dog or bulldog, Roberts equalised with a predator's finish and then, after Ryan Nelsen headed Blackburn in front, converted fellow substitute McCarthy's near-post cross. "It's been hard [being left out], but what does a good pro do?" he said. "When I don't [play], I'm not happy. I've not been in the best of moods lately."
O'Hara, a terrier on loan from Tottenham, sensed a steep learning curve for Pompey. The half-time consensus, he revealed, was that "this is massive, a whopper, and if we can win, we've got 15 days to relax outside the relegation zone." Of their ensuing collapse he reflected: "I think there were a few lads who didn't realise what it's about when you play here."
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1): Robinson; Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Diouf (McCarthy, h-t), Emerton, Nzonzi, Pedersen (Roberts, h-t); Dunn; Di Santo (Andrews, 84). Substitutes not used: J Brown (gk), Kalinic, Hoilett, Salgado.
Portsmouth (4-1-3-2): James; Vanden Borre, Wilson, Kaboul, Ben Haim; Mokoena (Kanu, 77); M Brown, Boateng, O'Hara; Dindane (Smith, 52), Piquionne. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Webber, Williamson, Mullins, Belhadj.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).
Booked: Blackburn Rovers Chimbonda, Givet, Nelsen; Portsmouth O'Hara, Boateng, Brown.
Man of the match: Roberts.
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