Whether Sam Allardyce will be back on the bench when Blackburn play their Carling Cup quarter-final against Chelsea on Wednesday will of course depend on medical advice, but in truth it will probably make little difference. As assistant manager Neil McDonald acknowledged, Rovers have achieved their best results this season playing to a pattern, and that is unlikely to change.
Of more immediate concern to their supporters, with respect to Allardyce, said to be recovering well after a successful angioplasty procedure, will be the fitness of David Dunn. The midfielder's form has been good enough for locals to be talking about a possible return to the England fold, so the sight of him limping off with a calf injury did not bode well for their chances of putting a spanner in the works of the Stamford Bridge steamroller.
Having lost their main creative influence early, Rovers were not displeased with a draw, though both McDonald and Stoke manager Tony Pulis thought they had witnessed a decent game. "To have 20 points after 14 games is first-class for us, but we've had 18 months in the Premier League after being out of top-flight football for 24 years, and people get carried away with things," Pulis acknowledged.
Both goalkeepers made several important saves, with Paul Robinson's instinctive first-half block from Lawrence's volley probably the pick.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-1-1); Robinson; Chimbonda, Nelsen, Samba, Givet ;Diouf (Pedersen 66) Andrews (Grella 46), Nzonzi, Emerton; Dunn (Roberts 31); De Santo. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), McCarthy, Kalinic, Salgado.
Stoke City (4-4-2); Sorensen; Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross (Faye 50),Collins; Lawrence, Diao, Whitehead, Etherington; Fuller (Tuncay 82),Sidibe (Beattie 67). Substitutes not used: Simonsen (gk), Higginbotham, Whelan, Delap.
Referee: H Webb.
Booked: Blackburn: Di Santo; Stoke: Whitehead, Wilkinson
Man of the match: Fuller. Attendance: 25,143.Reuse content