Millwall 1 Blackburn Rovers 2 match report: Jordan Rhodes' late penalty eases Rovers' relegation fears
Tuesday 23 April 2013
Braveness was Gary Bowyer's buzzword, and Blackburn Rovers' interim manager can rest easy after all but securing his side's safety in England's second tier. On a night where his side showed their travelling support reasons to be concerned and cheerful for next season in equal measure, Jordan Rhodes' late penalty gave them a five-point advantage over the drop zone after trailing at half-time.
“The atmosphere put us under an enormous amount of pressure,” he said. “We struggled to cope with it for 20-25 minutes.
”I asked them to be brave at half-time. The talking point should be about how brave we were second half. They were all very good.“
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett will focus on the positives of an inconsistent season, despite not yet securing safety. A run of 13 games unbeaten had them plumped just outside the play-offs in early December, but momentum faded. If they survive, they seem as likely to be part of a play-off push next season as they do a relegation battle. They are five points clear of the drop zone with a game in hand.
”We started the game very well,“ said Jackett. ”But Blackburn came into the second half strongly, David Dunn was very influential.
“Once we made the two substitutions at 1-1 we got a foothold back in the game. With that foothold I didn't think we did enough to win the game.”
With this, Jackett pinpointed a trait in Millwall's second half to the season: pushing on late in games but lacking firepower to grab a winner.
But they went ahead after Mark Beevers' towering header fell to Karleigh Osborne, whose hooked shot crept in from 12 yards. Their early momentum fell in an uneasy first half. Dunn and David Jones both came close for Rovers with long-range efforts before half-time.
Jones' whipped corner found its way into Forde's net via Millwall striker Rob Hulse after the break, and the visitors began winning a midfield battle that was deadlocked in the first half.
The winner was coming. Danny Shittu halted Grant Hanley's 60-yard run inside the area, a stop Gavin Ward adjudged to be illegal. Millwall complained that Hanley had gone down too easy, and the situation worsened as Rovers players congratulated the defender. Rhodes sent Forde the wrong way for all three points.
“It looked a soft decision,” said Jackett of the penalty decision. “The referee got the assessment wrong.
”I was looking for the refereeing team to make the right call on it. It was obviously a crucial moment in the game.“
Bowyer hadn't seen the incident, and would not deter from praising his side.
”I don't think we should be talking about that as much as we should be talking about our second half performance,“ he said.
Shittu was given a second yellow card for an angry exchange with the referee after full-time to sour the atmosphere one more notch.
But for Bowyer's side, avoiding the mantle of being the first side since Swindon in 1995 to go from top flight to third tier in two years will be one of few consolations from a disastrous campaign on and off the pitch.
The question remains. Who could Rovers' owners persuade to take the job after what has gone before? The next permanent manager must focus on the fitness of a side that, on paper, looks a decent match to anyone in this division.
Millwall (4-4-2): Forde; Dunne, Shittu, Osborne, Beevers; Henry, Abdou, J Smith, Feeney (Keogh, 77); Hulse (Wright, 62), Easter (Batt, 62). Substitutes not used M Taylor, Malone, Saville, Woolford .
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Sandomierski; Kane, Dann, Hanley, Markus Olsson (King, h-t); Dunn (Orr, 90), Jones, Williamson, Morris; Kazim-Richards (Goodwillie, 16), Rhodes. Substitutes not used Usai, Pedersen, Murphy, Gomes.
Referee G Ward (Surrey).
Latest in Sport
Robin van Persie to Fenerbahce: Manchester United striker 'agrees to personal terms' with Turkish side
Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs posts bizarre video of his Miami holiday being invaded by an iguana
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Why is it that there’s no women’s team at Manchester United? - Michael Calvin
Chelsea transfer news: Diego Costa wants a reunion with £25m Manchester United target Arda Turan... because he loves his kebabs
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture