Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn Rovers manager, was delighted to see his players salvage a point from Monday night's match with Sunderland after Christopher Samba's sending off – although he admitted the entertainment value of the match suffered as a consequence.
Rovers captain Samba was ordered off in first-half stoppage time at Ewood Park having brought down Danny Welbeck just as the forward was about to burst into the penalty area. Allardyce accepted referee Lee Probert made the right decision, even though it threw his preparations for the second half into disarray. But Blackburn put in a resolute display after the break which proved to be effective, if not exactly pretty to watch.
The Rovers manager was certainly prepared to sacrifice the match as a spectacle to ensure it was not lost and said that by the final whistle, with a 0-0 draw secured, it almost felt as if his side had won.
"We had a team talk in mind which we were discussing about whether we were happy with our shape and if we needed to make a substitution maybe at half-time or 10 minutes in," Allardyce said. "Then, lo and behold, all that goes out of the window because Chris gets himself sent off and we come in at 0-0, but down to 10 men.
"We had to reorganise very quickly and had a five- or six-minute discussion about what we were going to do tactically, but we gave that to the players and I'm glad to say that every man, including the substitutes, went out there and delivered for us.
"We feel like it is almost a win, having gone the full 45 minutes and limited the opposition to half-chances rather than clear-cut ones.
"It is very pleasing to see the players commit themselves to that and then when they could, try and play out, keep the ball, get up the other end and cause a few problems. There were obviously not going to be too many, but we did.
"It loses its glitter as a spectacle because we have to be very rigid and solid in the way we play, and say, 'Come on, break us down'.
"That, in terms of entertainment, makes the game very difficult to watch, but from a professional and tactical point of view, it was outstanding from the players."
The Sunderland assistant manager, Eric Black, defended his side's inability to make their man advantage count in the second period.
"When it goes down to 10 men, obviously you feel you can go and be in the ascendancy and hopefully win the game, but sometimes it works against you," Black said."Blackburn worked exceptionally hard to keep us in wide areas and got back very quickly behind the ball.
"We just didn't have that little bit of guile on the night to open them up, or pass the ball slightly quicker. It sometimes can work against you, and sometimes for you. Unfortunately we couldn't get the goal."
Meanwhile, Sunderland's goalkeeper Craig Gordon was due to play for the reserves last night as he aims to press his claims for a return to senior action.
The £9m Scotland international was to play for the Black Cats' second string against Everton at Widnes having provided the back-up to Belgian Simon Mignolet for Monday night's draw at Blackburn.
That was Gordon's third game as an unused substitute following his return from an arm fracture. However, he has had to remain patient with summer signing Mignolet having proved a more than able deputy in his absence.
The 22-year-old has been ever-present in the campaign to date and has conceded only nine goals in 10 games, a run which has seen him keep clean sheets against Manchester City, Manchester United and Rovers.
Sunderland paid Belgian side Sint-Truiden a reported £2m for Mignolet in June, pipping PSV Eindhoven, FC Twente and Udinese to his signature.Reuse content