Hoilett takes the helm as Rovers come out fighting
Blackburn Rovers 2 Blackpool 2: Adam brace puts Blackpool in command before taking second-half battering
Sunday 20 March 2011
By this point in a season, guessing who might be contemplating their last rites in the Premier League is not normally too taxing but not this time. When the fixtures resume with eight games left after the international break, the team in 10th place will still be only five points ahead of the one in 18th.
These two remain one point above the bottom three, their fates no more or less predictable than their rivals. Blackpool, beaten seven times in nine coming into this game, stormed into a two-goal lead, their downward spiral apparently arrested. But when it seemed safe to suggest their rookie manager, Steve Kean, be advised to consider his options along with a fifth defeat in six, Blackburn took it upon themselves to banish such thoughts with a stirring fightback. It took them until the third minute of stoppage time to make the scores level, but goodness did they deserve it.
Inspired by the singular determination of Junior Hoilett, their 20-year-old winger, Rovers hit the woodwork twice and had another goalbound effort cleared off the line, in addition to the two goals. Hoilett hit the woodwork twice, so it was fitting the young Canadian should grab the equaliser. "It was an excellent fightback," Kean said. "We could have felt sorry for ourselves but we didn't. I think in end we had about 20 shots on goal. Junior was exceptional.He is a match-winner, a fantastic talent and he has a bright future ahead of him."
Blackburn's prospects had not looked good when they failed to cash in on their early dominance. Good chances were squandered by Steve Nzonzi and Mame Biram Diouf. Blackpool, by contrast, had the ball in the net with effectively their first attack when Luke Varney steered the ball home from a clever Charlie Adam free kick. In the event, despite vehement complaints from those in tangerine, the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.
Yet the incident was the precursor of a complete reversal in the pattern of play and Blackpool took full advantage. Two goals in four minutes from Adam, back from suspension, emphasised how much he will be missed when he does leave Bloomfield Road.
First Ryan Nelsen conceded a penalty by sliding into Gary Taylor-Fletcher; Adam, confidently, sent Paul Robinson the wrong way from the spot. And when Jermaine Johnson brought him down in the 29th minute he could not have chosen a better spot himself, facing the middle of the goal. The home side lined up a wall but, with 25 yards available to get the trajectory right, Adam's left foot did its stuff, curling the ball over the defenders and into the top corner with such precision that Robinson could do little but watch it flash past him.
But Blackpool had not lost nine matches in 12 by making themselves hard to break down and while the home side retreated to the dressing room to a chorus of booing when half-time arrived, Kean told them to carry on as before. And so it was that the Blackpool goal endured a sustained battering. After a Hoilett shot was blocked and Diouf's follow up was saved, Christopher Samba fired home a lifeline. Then Stephen Crainey headed off the line from Samba, Hoilett hit both posts and Nzonzi shot just wide from a Hoilett pull-back.
There was no giving up and when, at the last, Robinson hoisted a huge free kick into the Blackpool box, the goalkeeper Richard Kingson tried to punch it clear but only found the head of Hoilett, who put the ball back into the net over his head.
Ian Holloway had complaints about the disallowed goal, and another similarly ruled out for offside, as well as a free kick just before the equaliser. "I like Howard Webb, I think he is a good referee," he said. "It was just that today he had a stinker."
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Hoilett
Match rating: 7/10
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