Mowbray happy as Blackburn continue to improve

Boss Tony Mowbray praised Blackburn’s collective spirit after they edged a pulsating Sky Bet Championship thriller at Stoke 3-2.

Rovers were 3-0 ahead, with Bradley Dack and Danny Graham netting before half-time and Harrison Reed adding to the scoreline.

However, most of the drama was confined to the last 11 minutes as Stoke clawed themselves back into the contest with strikes from substitute Saido Berahino and Tom Ince.

The home side were then awarded a penalty in added time when Berahino was brought down. The forward took the spot-kick himself but struck the crossbar, as Blackburn hung on to move to within two points of the top six.

Mowbray said: “We can talk about the last 10 minutes all we want but it doesn’t really matter to me.

“The spirit of this team gets us through, they like each other, they work extraordinarily hard with each other.

“They know we’ve just come from League One but to come to Stoke and put a performance on for 80 minutes like that is good for the belief.

“I think for 80 minutes it was as good as I’ve seen in my tenure, we had control of the game, the defensive qualities, but also the ability to break away and threaten in behind with Graham and Dack combining – it’s a pretty special combination.”

Rovers started brightly in Staffordshire and led in the 26th minute after Richie Smallwood’s pass was deflected to Dack, who planted the ball across goal left-footed into the far corner past Jack Butland.

The visitors were two up a minute before the break as skipper Bennett’s pinpoint ball over the top of Stoke’s defence found Graham, who beat the offside trap to guide a low effort into the net.

It was 3-0 a minute into the second half when Reed finished confidently after a well-worked move started by Elliott Bennett –  but an incredible final 11 minutes almost saw Gary Rowett’s side snatch an improbable point.

Berahino pulled a goal back on 79 minutes when he bundled Peter Crouch’s knockdown beyond goalkeeper David Raya, before turning provider for Ince to turn home from close-range soon after.

Referee Toby Harrington then pointed to the spot when Berahino was fouled by Darragh Lenihan – but the chance was not taken and Rowett bemoaned his team’s indifferent form.

He said: “At the moment we are defensively very soft and weak.

“It’s disappointing when the same things happen, we can’t defend well enough to give ourselves a consistent base – but I haven’t managed to solve those problems at the moment.

“I understand the fans’ frustration and I understand that they are going to vent their frustration at me.

“We score the first goal, started to show more aggression, then score the second one, we then get a penalty.

“I’m not being critical of Saido, but when you pick the ball up, you are responsible to find the net.

“We had our chances and as woeful as the defending was, we really should be coming in at the end saying ‘we have drawn that’.

“It is disappointing at the moment, as we keep making the same mistakes in games.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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