Second-half fightback inflicts 2-1 defeat at Ewood Park...
BLACKBURN 2 (Rhodes 71, 87 pen), UNITED 1 (Doukara 33).
Blackburn: Steele, Baptiste, Hanley, Duffy, Olsson, Cairney, Evans (Taylor 89), Williamson (Tunnicliffe 65), Marshall, Rhodes, Gestede (Varney 73). Subs. Eastwood, Henley, Dunn, Conway.
United: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock, Mowatt, Cook (Sharp 88), Bianchi (Bellusci 76), Adryan, Doukara, Antenucci. Subs. S Taylor, Berardi, Austin, Tonge, Dawson.
Referee: K Wright
Booked: Cairney, Duffy (Blackburn), Adryan, Warnock (United)
Sent off: Cairney (Blackburn)
Att: 21,432 (6,839 United)
Following the two-week international break, the visit to Blackburn Rovers saw United return to Championship action and head coach Neil Redfearn selected the same 11 that saw off Blackpool last time out. Giuseppe Bellusci returned from his one-game suspension, but was made to settle for a place among the substitutes as Liam Cooper continued in defence.
Both sides exchanged possession in a fast-paced start to the game and it was United who had the first sight of goal, with Blackburn keeper Jason Steele rushing off his line to thwart Adryan after the Brazilian had skipped away from his marker.
Ben Marshall then saw his speculative effort from distance drag wide of Marco Silvestri’s post in a fairly evenly-balanced opening 15 minutes at Ewood Park. The hosts clipped the woodwork moments later through Tom Cairney, curling a strike off the top off the bar after a cross from the left had fallen kindly into his path.
United looked a threat on the counter-attack, but Blackburn were also causing problems on the break and Silvestri was called into action for the first time on 27 minutes to beat away Marshall’s effort low down to his left after the midfielder had cut into the area.
The save of the match came just three minutes later at the opposite end, though, as Steele flew across his line to tip over the bar and deny Adryan from picking out the top corner after taking aim from the edge of the box. Lewis Cook then saw his half-volley deflected behind and it was from the resulting corner that United took the lead.
Blackburn failed to clear from Adryan’s left-wing corner and Doukara was there inside the area to squeeze home his seventh goal of the season in all competitions and send the travelling army into pandemonium.
That proved to be final meaningful piece of action inside either box before the half-time whistle was blown. Both sides returned from the break unchanged and United looked to start on the front font, with Cook poking an effort straight into Steele’s arms.
Urged to shoot by the 6,839 away fans United were now attacking, Alex Mowatt curled wide from range as Redfearn’s men went in search of a second.
But the game remained in the balance and Jordan Rhodes was played into the area at the other end, forcing Silvestri into a smart save to push away his goalbound half-volley from a tight angle to preserve the lead after an hour.
Rudy Gestede lashed wide from inside the area after collecting Rhodes’ cross on his chest before the striker then headed into the arms of Silvestri as Blackburn pushed forward in pursuit of an equaliser.
The pressure eventually told and it was Rhodes who levelled for the hosts, slotting into an empty net after a mix-up in the United defence on 71 minutes.
Blackburn had half chances to go in front through Varney and then Rhodes, but United looked to mount a quick response as Mirco Antenucci was sent racing through on goal by Adryan, only to slam against the base of the post.
United’s hopes of grabbing a late winner were handed a boost as Blackburn were reduced to 10 men with nine minutes remaining on the clock following Cairney’s second yellow card – a late challenge on Cooper.
But it was Blackburn who struck again as Rhodes converted from the penalty spot three minutes from time after Varney had gone down inside the area.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added on and United threw everything forward with Billy Sharp stepping off the bench, but there proved to be no way through as Blackburn held on the claim the three points.