Football: Newell provides guiding light

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Chelsea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

TWO splendidly fashioned goals illuminated an otherwise murky early evening at Ewood Park and left these two clubs classes apart in the Premiership.

Blackburn duly claimed their place in the top three; Chelsea were firmly clamped in the bottom three. The plight of Glenn Hoddle's side is now dire: just one point and two goals from nine matches.

Hoddle, who has missed the last four games because of a virus, resumes training today and hopes to be back in action in a fortnight. Even fading glimpses of the 36-year-old's art would bring desperately needed assurance to his charges. 'We must not lose our self-belief,' he said. 'We've got a long enough period to get it right.'

Observers will have their doubts. Chelsea pieced together a semblance of order in the second half, only for a save, a block and a deflection to stifle any optimism. The flourish frankly flattered them. Blackburn's superiority ought to have rendered the match a no-contest long before Alan Shearer finally secured the points with his 14th goal of the season.

Shearer's impact had been limited to sporadic raids, the more influential contribution coming from Mike Newell who came close to scoring himself. In the 15th minute, however, he timed his leap perfectly to head down Kevin Gallacher's centre and Graeme Le Saux, sold by Chelsea to Blackburn last season, met it on the full to claim his first goal for the club.

Blackburn's fumbling attempts to conjure a second encouraged Chelsea to produce their most convincing spell of the game, but into stoppage time their fate was sealed. Henning Berg fed Stuart Ripley and the winger's endeavours did not go in vain, Shearer turning the ball in off a post.

Blackburn (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, May, Hendry, Le Saux; Ripley, Batty, Sherwood, Gallacher; Shearer, Newell. Substitutes not used: Wright, Atkins, Mimms (gk).

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Hall, Sinclair, Johnsen, Donaghy; Wise, Newton, Peacock, Hopkin (Burley, 76); Stein, Shipperley (Cascarino, 57). Substitute not used: Hitchcock (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

Roy Vernon, the former Blackburn, Everton, Stoke City and Wales inside-forward, has died at the age of 56. Vernon began his professional career with Blackburn in 1955, scoring 49 goals in 131 League appearances. Four years later he moved to Everton with whom he scored 101 goals in 176 League appearances.