Rovers show trademark Allardyce grit

Blackburn Rovers 2 Portsmouth 0
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Well schooled as he is in the statistics of his Blackburn Rovers rescue, Sam Allardyce knows how far to the good he is in one comparison.

By inspiring his team to the "magical 40" mark that will ensure survival in the Premier League with plenty to spare, he has overseen the harvesting of 14 points more than his predecessor Paul Ince, from only two extra matches. What Allardyce declines to underline, though, is that the 27-from-19 return achieved during his reign is the sort for which his former club Newcastle United would have killed in their slide towards relegation.

Much as Blackburn's fans are happy to poke fun at Alan Shearer, a man whose goals helped Jack Walker's Rovers to the Premier League title in 1995, Allardyce insists Tyneside now belongs in his distant past.

But he would not be human if he did not enjoy pulling up a chair to see how Shearer's Newcastle cope with the pressure at its fiercest against Middlesbrough tonight.

Having reached safety, Blackburn can now see which of the others do not, among the possibles a Portsmouth team who would be much happier about their prospects if they knew they were not going to repeat performances like this.

Despite the admirable efforts of Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin, they provided exactly the type of unconvincing opponents an Allardyce side habitually overpower – and that they did thanks to the first goal of the season for Morten Gamst Pedersen and Blackburn leading scorer Benni McCarthy's 13th.

Just when Blackburn needed points, they have pulled out three successive home victories, while Portsmouth have won only three of their last 21 matches and none of their 12 league trips going back to November.

They should still be OK, with their interim manager Paul Hart insisting after John Utaka's late penalty miss: "We have Sunderland next and that's a game we must put away. I don't want to be looking at other results."

Blackburn can start planning, the Allardyce way, for 2009-10. "He is so organised and has been good for us," Pedersen said of his manager. "He knew we couldn't take chances and sometimes we've had to play a little ugly."

Blackburn Rovers (4-1-3-2): Robinson; Andrews, Nelsen, Givet, Warnock; Tugay; Diouf, Grella, Pedersen; Samba, McCarthy (Mokoena, 82). Substitutes not used: Bunn (gk), Khizanishvili, Villanueva, Treacy, Olsson, Doran.

Portsmouth (4-5-1): James; Kaboul (Pennant, 63), Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Johnson, Mullins, Davis, Hughes (Kanu, 82), Belhadj (Utaka, 52); Crouch. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Nugent, Crane, Basinas.

Referee: M Riley (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Blackburn Rovers McCarthy, Andrews; Portsmouth Johnson.

Man of the match: Tugay.

Attendance: 24,234.