Lively Hoilett rescues Rovers but victory remains out of reach
Blackburn Rovers 1 Birmingham City 1
Before the kick-off neither side would have been satisfied with a point, and for Blackburn it marked a depressing sequence of eight games without a win.
After the backs-to-the-wall display and precious point picked up at Arsenal last week, this was back to the old Blackburn. Lacking guile and creativity, they were fortunate that an error capitalised on by Junior Hoilett earned them a draw in this poor game with fellow strugglers Birmingham.
With home games looming against Manchester City, Manchester United and Bolton, three of the top-eight sides, it certainly doesn't bode well for their manager, Sean Kean, that he failed to secure the breathing space he had called for.
"We were trying to keep the momentum going," he said. "We were focused on what we had to do, so sometimes you have to respect a point. The atmosphere is a little flat in the dressing room, but looking at the table now you may think it's a good point.
"If you get a point at home, and look at everyone else's results, then we are a bit better off than we started. We wanted to take a leap and get to midway, but it wasn't to be."
Hoilett is one of the few positives to emerge during Kean's troubled reign. The 20-year-old Canadian winger did not get a look-in under Sam Allardyce but has blossomed under Kean, and bailed out his manager for the second successive home game. He was fortunate to get that opportunity after Lee Bowyer's opener, and a coat of paint saved them from a further setback.
Despite appearing to be standing marginally offside, Bowyer had a simple task to head Birmingham into a 32nd-minute lead. And if Sebastian Larsson's 44th-minutefree-kick had not bounced away off the post, Blackburn would have needed a second-half comeback to matchtheir effort in the drawagainst Blackpool.
As it was, Hoilett hauled them level in the seventh minute of added time. With Roger Johnson not fully recovered from a knock to his head, his defensive partner, Liam Ridgewell, was caught napping as Hoilett picked his pocket before rounding Ben Foster.
The second half was a tense affair, with Roque Santa Cruz's header against the crossbar one of few moments of notable action. Hoilett's withdrawal with a hamstring injury proved what a vital cog he now is, as Blackburn ran out of ideas without their new favourite.
Birmingham will at least return to the Midlands in the knowledge that their destiny remains in their own hands.
"I'm happy with a point," admitted their manager, Alex McLeish. "We gave them a gift before half-time and I knew it would give them the impetus. Up to that time we were the better side, but we made a mistake and were punished.
"I don't know if it was a lack of concentration from Liam. It was a bad moment for the player, but he recovered from that. He came out and showed great character."
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the match: Ferguson
Match rating: 5/10
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