But boss fumes as lead lost each time

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

BOTH Black­burn and Not­ting­ham For­est are con­strained by trans­fer em­bar­goes, yet all the talk af­ter this draw was of the play­ers each club needs this sum­mer, and oth­ers they may strug­gle to keep.

Nei­ther side have much left to play for be­sides a top-ten fin­ish, but they served up a feast of goals at Ewood Park, with Rudy Gest­ede head­ing Black­burn in front three times, only for Dougie Freed­man’s vis­i­tors to hit back on each oc­ca­sion.

And Rovers boss Gary Bowyer made no at­tempt to dis­guise his frus­tra­tion, hav­ing seen his side sur­ren­der the lead five times in their last two games.

“To score three at home and not be talk­ing about an im­pres­sive win, you have to un­der­stand my frus­tra­tion and dis­ap­point­ment, es­pe­cially af­ter go­ing through sim­i­lar on Tues­day night at Birm­ing­ham,” he re­flected.

“If I was Rudy Gest­ede I’d be ab­so­lutely fum­ing with my team­mates, be­cause he’s scored a hat-trick, and we aren’t talk­ing about how that hat-trick won us the game.”

And Bowyer ad­mit­ted the fail­ure to see re­cent games out has prompted him to look for lead­ers in the sum­mer, where Rovers’, like For­est, will be re­stricted to loan sign­ings and free trans­fers.

“To score late on to go 3-2 up, it’s a case of see­ing the game out,” Bowyer added.

“That’s when you need peo­ple to stand up there and re­ally make sure that you see the game out.

“Lead­er­ship is some­thing that we’ve cer­tainly looked at over the past cou­ple of weeks.The em­bargo that we’re un­der lim­its our abil­ity to go out and get lead­ers, but it’s some­thing that we’ve cer­tainly iden­ti­fied.”

Gest­ede put Gary Bowyer’s men ahead af­ter two min­utes, nod­ding the ball over Karl Dar­low af­ter get­ting the bet­ter of a hes­i­tant Ja­maal Las­celles.

For­est replied swiftly, with Michail An­to­nio head­ing home a Modou Barrow de­liv­ery four min­utes later.

Gest­ede re­stored the hosts’ lead when he ar­rived at the far post to head a well-shaped cross from Craig Con­way into the bot­tom cor­ner. But For­est lev­elled again shortly be­fore half-time, when the out­stand­ing An­to­nio squared for Henri Lans­bury to stroke past Simon East­wood.

Ben Mar­shall came close to mak­ing it 3-2 shortly af­ter the hour when he ar­rived at pace in the box to meet an­other cross from Con­way, but his header came down on the wrong side of the line af­ter rat­tling the cross­bar.

And when Gest­ede com­pleted his hat-trick with an­other far post header eight min­utes from time, it looked as though Bowyer’s FA Cup quar­ter-fi­nal­ists had done enough to se­cure all three points.

That was un­til An­to­nio struck again with two min­utes re­main­ing, this time driv­ing a 25-yard shot be­yond a help­less East­wood.

Freed­man ad­mit­ted his de­fence had no an­swer to the aerial prow­ess of Gest­ede, but was im­pressed with his side’s at­tack­ing dis­play.

“Our ap­proach play was fan­tas­tic, it’s the best we’ve played since I’ve been here,” the said.

“De­fen­sively we couldn’t cope with Gest­ede, but in their box, we’ve had five or six great chances to win this game.”

“We were too hot to han­dle. The spirit’s there, the qual­ity’s there, we just need to make sure we’re a bit bet­ter in both boxes.”

But the for­mer Crys­tal Palace boss ac­knowl­edged that it may be dif­fi­cult for For­est to keep hold of An­to­nio, who now has 15 goals for the sea­son.

“There’s noth­ing I can do about it,” he added.

“I’m the coach. Ev­ery sin­gle player has a price on their head, and I’m just hop­ing no one reaches that value for Michail, be­cause he’s a mas­sive part of what I’m try­ing to do.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

BATTLE: Jor­dan Rhodes (left) and Modou Barrow look to win pos­ses­sion TRE­BLE: Rudy Gest­ede cel­e­brates scor­ing the sec­ond goal of his hat-trick





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