Shearer shifts gear

Blackburn Rovers 3 Shearer 27, Bohinen 31, Gallacher 85 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Attendance: 24,732
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WHATEVER their failings in other competitions, Blackburn remain close to impregnable at Ewood Park in the Premiership. This clear-cut win was their 10th league victory on their own turf this season, even if they seemed at times to be still convalescing from their midweek FA Cup embarrassment by Ipswich. That match had been the first against domestic opposition at Ewood Park this season in which Alan Shearer has failed to score.

Shearer had been well policed by Des Walker, who had whipped one potential chance right off his toe, until Stuart Ripley's 27th minute cross found him unaccountably free of markers and his crisp half-volley left Chris Woods helpless.

Within four minutes, Blackburn had a second goal, which rather flattered their patchy performance. It was another move of stunning simplicity, Henning Berg's pass into Lars Bohinen's stride giving him time to draw the goalkeeper and slide it past him with nonchalant ease.

Wednesday, until Shearer's goal, had looked the more comfortable side. "But goals change games," said their manager, David Pleat, "I was quite encouraged by the way we played in the second half."

One source of that encouragement was the form of the Serb Darko Kovacevic. But the decisive figure of the second half was Kevin Gallacher, who thoroughly earned his first goal since his second broken leg last season. Gallacher had hit the bar and sent a raking shot past the post before he latched onto Shearer's blocked shot with six minutes remaining.

Blackburn manager Ray Harford failed to attend the post-match press conference, sending his apologies with the message that he was "on business". His quick get-away heightened speculation that David Batty could return to his former club Leeds, with Gary Speed, a player Harford has previously enquired about, figuring in a possible exchange.