Football: Familiar failings for Parkes' revamped Rovers

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 2 Ipswich Town 2

LEST IT be overlooked amid the brouhaha surrounding Blackburn's latest managerial misfortune, Ipswich came within a whisker of converting a two-goal deficit into victory in a thrilling finale to a dramatic tie.

George Burley's men, the champagne exponents in a poor vintage division, could barely muster a passing move in a first half which saw Rovers play their best football of the season on the rebound of Brian Kidd's departure last week.

Caretaker manager, Tony Parkes, in control of the club he has served for 29 years for a fifth time, inspired his new-look team - he made seven changes to his predecessor's final selection - to offer the kind of grit and work-rate which made the club the toast of the nation just four years ago.

An early goal certainly helped to settle his side, Lee Carsley heading home after just 20 seconds, a lead he doubled with a penalty midway through the second period.

By this point, Ipswich were finally showing why they are the likeliest of all the contenders - should they finally achieve the elevation they have been threatening in recent seasons - to survive in the top division.

Despite the lack of Burley's first-choice strike pairing of David Johnson and Jamie Scowcroft, a wealth of chances fell to players popping up from all regions of his flowing, organic 3-5-2 formation and the home side's sagging resolve was regularly tested as Ipswich's swift passing manoeuvres drove towards goal.

Matt Holland made the overdue breakthrough 15 minutes from time with a fine volley and Mark Venus could have levelled from the spot - which would have made up for his earlier aberration in felling Ashley Ward to give Blackburn their penalty - but he lofted his strike high into the stand.

Rather than take the miss as a signal that the away-day blues were to strike again - Ipswich lost on the road to both Manchester City and Huddersfield in their previous ventures from Portman Road - the East Anglians rolled up their sleeves and proved they have the mettle to match their method.

The dismissal of Nathan Blake for his second yellow- card offence certainly aided their cause, but even the most partisan Blackburn observer would concede the inevitability of sweeper Tony Mowbray's curled injury-time equaliser and be thankful the game, by then, was as good as over.

Goals: Carsley (1) 1-0; Carsley (pen 67) 2-0; Holland (75) 2-1; Mowbray (90) 2-2.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Kelly; Harkness, Dailly, Taylor, Grayson; Dunn (Wilcox, 83), McAteer, Carsley, Duff (Ostenstad, 89); Blake, Ward. Substitutes not used: Kenna, Peacock, Filan (gk).

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): R Wright ; McGreal, Mowbray, Venus; Wilnis, Stockwell, J Wright, Holland, Clapham; Naylor, Axeldal. Substitutes not used: Holster, Brown, Logan, Croft, Pullen (gk).

Referee: G Laws (Whitley Bay).

Bookings: Blackburn: Harkness, Grayson. Ipswich: Wilnis, J Wright, Naylor, Venus. Sending-off: Blake.

Man of the match: Carsley.

Attendance: 18,512.

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