BOWYER RUES LACK OF FIREPOWER
BLACKBURN boss Gary Bowyer rued the loss of Rudy Gestede after watching his side go down to Wolves in their opening game of the new season.
The striker left the club for Premier League side Aston Villa over the summer and it was ironic that he scored the winner for his new club as his former team failed to find a late goal at Ewood Park.
Rovers trailed to Benik Afobe’s first-half strike but levelled courtesy of a terrible error from Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.
The visitors then gained what proved to be the winning goal just before the break, though it came in controversial circumstances after David Edwards appeared to palm the ball into the net.
Blackburn were denied a second-half penalty when Adam Henley was tripped inside the box, while new signing Fode Koita saw a long-range effort come back off the post.
Bowyer began his post-match press conference by revealing he was thrilled for his former charge Gestede, but could not hide his disappointment at losing the striker and the manner of his side’s defeat.
“I’m absolutely delighted for Rudy,” he said. “But the irony is that we’ve asked other players to play a bit more this season without him and we couldn’t do that.
“It was definitely handball and we should have had a penalty in the second half. I felt we were very unlucky.
“We’ve hit the post in the first half and again in the second and on another day we would’ve had a bit more luck.”
Rovers could have taken the lead inside the opening two minutes. Jordan Rhodes struck the post with a 30-yard effort.
Minutes later and Ben Marshall skewed a shot wide of goal from the edge of the box, before Craig Conway snatched at another good opportunity inside the area.
But it was Wolves who took the lead against the run of play. Edwards flicked a long ball into the path of Afobe inside the 18-yard box and he prodded past goalkeeper David Raya on 28 minutes.
The visitors’ lead did not last long, however, as Blackburn were gifted an equaliser. Conway’s shot looped goalwards off the boot of Richard Stearman, but Ikeme proceeded to palm the ball into his own net as he attempted to tip it over the bar.
An action-packed first half then came to a controversial end.
Nouha Dicko whipped a crosscum-shot towards goal from the left hand side of the box and Edwards turned the ball home with his hand, though Wanderers boss Kenny Jackett felt it was not deliberate.
“It was ball to hand,” he said. “It was a whipped cross in and he’s headed it on to his own hand. But, did it hit his hand on the way in? Yes it did, so people will call it handball.”
In the second half, James Henry struck the crossbar for the visitors with a 30-yard shot, but Wolves were fortunate to survive a frantic ending to the game, as Rovers went in search of an equaliser.
Referee Mark Haywood should have given a penalty when Henley was fouled by Kortney Hause, before substitute Koita saw his longrange effort come back off the post.
Shane Duffy then prodded wide from close range inside the six-yard box from a corner, as Jackett breathed a sigh of relief. He said: “It’s a great three points on the first day of the season.
“The midfield we played gave us options going forwards.
“Blackburn have been in and around the play-offs in the last two years and even though they’ve lost Rudy Gestede, they still look a good side and they gave us a very good game.”
OPENER: Benik Afobe celebrates scoring for Wolves. Inset: David Raya cannot keep out Afobe’s effort