Football: Parkes revels in luck of a draw

Liverpool 0 Blackburn Rovers 0 Attendance: 40,747
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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers have experienced some bizarre managerial upheavals, losing Kenny Dalglish, Ray Harford and now, even before he got here, Sven Goran Eriksson, but good fortune has not entirely deserted them. Yesterday at Anfield they somehow managed to keep a rampant Liverpool at bay, with the woodwork denying the home team goals on three occasions, the last in dramatic fashion as Dominic Matteo headed against the bar in injury time.

The draw here thwarted Liverpool's attempt to reclaim the summit of the Premiership by exploiting Manchester United's draw at Chelsea, but although Anfield's frustration was abject by the end, Liverpool's overall performance suggested a seriousness of intent to pursue United all the way.

Though Robbie Fowler was the main victim of the woodwork - a first-half header and a second-half shot being denied - he was also the means of Liverpool's frustration himself, with unusually anxious finishing costing him at least two goals. Twice inside the 60th minute he lashed shots over the Blackburn bar when a second's more composure might have yielded the right result.

Jamie Redknapp and Jason McAteer were two of the culprits in the mis- shooting stakes, while Tim Flowers produced several fine saves to keep his goal intact. A disappointed Roy Evans concluded afterwards: "For us not to score today was crazy - we had enough chances to win two or three games, let alone one. But there are no excuses for us not putting the ball in the net."

The key moments of frustration arrived when Fowler's 15th-minute header from Redknapp's cross hit the foot of the post and then soon in the second half, when Liverpool's top scorer nearly completed a splendid move but saw his 20-yard curler find the far post and not the far corner of the net.

Nevertheless, Steve McManaman's form is holding up well and Redknapp's return to fitness has added both pace and menace to the midfield. Liverpool's other big encouragement yesterday was the display by Matteo, who was a commanding and decisive presence in defence and a useful addition to the attack when he saw the opportunity.

Blackburn, frustrated and humiliated by Eriksson's decision to withdraw from his intended managership, should take pride from their players' dogged resistance and for the caretaker manager Tony Parkes' grace under pressure. "I'm probably the most successful caretaker manager in history, " Parkes said good-naturedly afterwards. "I can get the club out of trouble but I accept that they'll need a big name to put them back where they were two years ago." Before they decide, Blackburn's board should recognise that Parkes had an essential managerial ingredient yesterday - luck.

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