Blackburn Rovers 2 Derby County 0 match report: Jordan Rhodes paves the way for Rovers escape route

 

Tales of contradiction, confusion and condemnation from their fiercely loyal supporters have again engulfed Blackburn Rovers' unthinkable fight against relegation this week in what has become their version of business as usual.

Stories surfaced about financial treachery from both Team Shaw and Team Shebby – the two camps in the bitter boardroom battle – as the big cheeses were summoned to Pune by Venky's to discuss the absurd chaos.

Although caretaker manager Gary Bowyer revealed he received a positive answer on his own future, the contents of discussions with directors Derek Shaw and Paul Agnew remain unclear. Global advisor Shebby Singh wasn't present and is still out in India having not yet spoken to owner, Anuradha Desai. Meanwhile, back in Lancashire, it is suggested that financial director, Karen Silk, is working her notice and set to leave Ewood Park.

All predictably mystifying, but at the end of it came a surprise: Rovers won, and won convincingly. Although this talented squad have left it late – and are still in the mire – they showed how they might have performed consistently had the board not been so trigger-happy in a season full of one-upmanship and petty squabbles.

"When I spoke to the owners it was about the short term, the last six games. It's about doing what we need to do to stay up," Bowyer said. "There's a team effort going on here and we showed the fight and passion needed."

Remarkably, this was their first win since beating Arsenal in February, but as Derby caved in, the realisation that this season doesn't have to end in doom awoke those with a vested interest in Rovers. Messy internal politics were briefly forgotten.

Jordan Rhodes was clumsily clipped in the box by Jeff Hendrick after nine minutes, coolly scoring the penalty himself. Just before the break they were gifted a second when the Derby keeper, Frank Fielding, flapped at a routine corner and allowed Scott Dann to head home to seal the win.

There is still much to do, of course, but this result hauled Rovers out of the bottom three ahead of fellow-strugglers Huddersfield Town's visit on Tuesday.

Derby manager, Nigel Clough, still wants another couple of points to secure safety, despite lying 13th: "We paid for our failures in both penalty areas today. We've just thrown six points away in the last eight days."

Would Rovers be satisfied with fourth from bottom? "100 per cent," Bowyer replied. It's been that kind of year.

Blackburn (4-4-2): Sandomierski; Kane, Dann, Hanley, Morris; Lowe (Pedersen, 76), Dunn (King, 66), Williamson, Jones; Rhodes (Goodwillie, 90), Kazim-Richards.

Derby (4-4-2): Fielding; Brayford, Buxton, Keogh, Forsyth; Coutts (Davies, h-t), Hendrick, Bryson (Freeman, 73), Ward; Sammon (Bennett, 84), Martin.

Referee Andy Haines.

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