Roger Johnson does salvage job on Dean Saunders’ opening night as Wolves manager

Wolves 1 Blackburn Rovers 1


Michael Appleton was not at Molineux last night, but Blackburn Rovers’ new manager may take more satisfaction from this match, and result, than Dean Saunders, present and overseeing his first game in charge at Wolves.

Appleton will surely feel he has a better chance of guiding Rovers back in to the Premier League than Saunders has with Wolves. The result leaves the Lancashire club four points short of a play-off place, but in a match that  generally lacked quality, there was a sense of solidity and confidence about their football which Wolves patently, and at times painfully, lacked.

Unsurprisingly, given Wolves came into the game on a run of four defeats, Saunders made a number of changes, in personnel and positionally. Ronald Zubar made his first start since October at full-back, David Davis came into midfield,  and there was a first start for 19-year-old Wales Under-21 international striker Jake Cassidy, who has spent much of the last two seasons on loan at Tranmere.

Rovers’ caretaker manager Gary Bowyer brought in Chelsea loanee Todd Kane to replace the injured Adam Henley at right-back, with Simon Vukcevic coming into midfield.

Having demanded his players show the supporters they meant business from the off, Saunders watched his team start positively, and centre-half Roger Johnson, still in the penalty area after coming up for a corner only half-cleared, volleyed the subsequent low cross only a couple of feet wide.

Bakary Sako, clearly under instruction to give Wolves lots of width on the left, saw plenty of the ball, but the Frenchman’s delivery was initially disappointing. When he did finally pull the ball back low and hard from the byline, Kevin Doyle’s touch brought a fine save from young Rovers’ goalkeeper Jake Kean.

Rovers had barely had an attack – a hopeful punt forward which striker Jordan Rhodes almost guided past Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme, a rare threat – when after 26 minutes they took the lead. There was contact, but Ruben Rochina’s fall as Sako attempted to tackle the Spanish midfielder in the Wolves penalty area looked theatrical, and referee Dean Whitestone had not reacted when his assistant signalled the penalty. Rhodes converted, his 14th League goal of the season.

The Wolves reaction was generally unimpressive and it took a fine diving save from Ikeme to prevent Rochina putting the visitors two up shortly after half-time. Wolves’ main threat was coming from set-pieces, and Johnson looped a header from a free-kick on to the top of Kean’s goal shortly before Davis produced a cross which Zubar reached ahead  of Grant Hanley, but failed to keep his header down.

Saunders made changes, and his second had an immediate impact. Jamie O’Hara’s first touch was a long diagonal cross into the box, and Johnson, coming in at the far post, headed the ball down and into the net. The defending, given the distance from which the ball had been delivered, was poor.

Urged on by their supporters Wolves pressed for a winner, but chances remained few. Doyle’s touch let him down when Sako produced a dangerous cross with five minutes remaining, but Appleton will not have been particularly happy with the way his side sat back and settled for the draw.

Saunders, who has promised to play entertaining football after becoming Wolves’ fourth manager in less than 12 months, will now have a much better idea of the size of the task he has taken on.

His players did not lack energy, but ideas were singularly absent.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Ikeme;  Zubar (Peszko, 67), Johnson, Berra, Ward;  Foley, Henry, Davis (O’Hara, 74) Sako: Doyle, Cassidy (Ebanks-Blake, 79).  Substitutes not used: Stearman, Batth, Forde, De Vries.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Kean; Kane, Dann, Hanley (Givet, 81), Martin Olsson; Vukcevic (Pedersen, 56), Lowe, Murphy, Rochina (Morris, 80); Kazim-Richards, Rhodes. Substitutes not used: Usai, Nuno Gomes, Goodwillie, Rosado.

Referee: D Whitestone. (Northamptonshire)

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice