Football: Peacock is plucked

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The Independent Online
Blackburn Rovers 0

Derby County 0

Attendance: 24,007

A RE-JIGGED Blackburn side, including the summer's most expensive British player, suffered an afternoon of frustrations as their increasing domination failed to produce a breakthrough.

Kevin Davies almost scored on debut after his pounds 7.25m transfer from Southampton. A header from a corner on the half-hour produced one of Russell Hoult's several creditable saves, but neither he nor his new club did enough to break down an opposition that also threatened, especially early on.

Two nervous defences - with Blackburn's new centre-half Darren Peacock ill at ease - were highly vulnerable in that opening phase. The pace of Dean Sturridge and Paulo Wanchope kept Rovers on their toes, although Derby's best chances both came from Peacock's mistakes, Sturridge lobbing wide and Hoult saving a misdirected back-header. Until Lars Bohinen almost showed his former club how it was done in the last minute, that was about it for Derby as an attacking force.

The rest consisted of Blackburn's efforts, never really convincing, to break the visitors down. Roy Hodgson was happy with Davies' initial contribution. "He worked very hard and showed glimpses of his great talent," he said. "But he and Chris Sutton were constantly surrounded. Derby defended very doggedly and deserved their point."

They only got it, however, because of Hoult, who was only in goal because Mart Poom had a virus. Apart from his save from Davies' header, he also tipped away a Jason Wilcox free-kick and did very well to scramble the ball clear from Sutton in the first half after Davies' persistence had created the chance. Best of all, though, was a flying save from Gary Flitcroft in the second half. Rovers had been reduced by this stage to shooting from long range, Flitcroft's previous effort hitting the post.

Neither that tactic, nor Hodgson "changing the ammunition" as he put it, by bringing on Damien Duff, Kevin Gallagher and Martin Dahlin in attack, produced the shots that counted.