WATT IS THE FUSS ABOUT RHODES?
Jordan’s off but Rovers hit three
JORDAN Rhodes might be all but gone from Ewood Park but Blackburn boss Paul Lambert insists his side are in good hands up top.
Blackburn shrugged off the news that Rhodes is set to join Middlesbrough for a fee believed to be around £9million with a comfortable FA Cup victory over Oxford United.
Ben Marshall struck twice but it was the other goalscorer, debutant Tony Watt, and his strike partner Simeon Jackson that left Lambert purring.
“I thought we were excellent,” he said.“They’re a good side and the crowd were up for it, but I thought we were excellent. We could have won by more.
“I thought Simeon Jackson was unplayable. He was a big part of Norwich getting out of the league and I thought his running and general movement was first class.
“Tony Watt coming in gave everybody a lift. With Tony Watt you’ve got one hell of a talented footballer, I think he’s got to get a lot fitter, but he is a hell of a talent.
“He’s a hell of a player and he’s had a hard time, I think.”
Lambert handed Jackson, who he worked with at Norwich City, and Watt their first starts since arriving in January, and the front two provided plenty of cause for optimism in the early stages of their fledgling partnership.
After a scrappy opening 20 minutes in which neither side threatened to break the deadlock, Sam Slocombe produced the first save of the match when he denied Elliot Ward after he rose to head at goal from a corner.
Just six minutes later the hosts forced a save out of Rovers goalkeeper Jason Steele, when Liam Sercombe – making his 300th career appearance – had a fierce low drive turned just around the far post.
The Us cup dreams were dented in the 34th minute when Joe Skarz caught the heels of Jackson as he looked to get a shot away on goal. Blackburn rightback Marshall stepped up to take the spotkick and found the bottom-right corner.
Watt then had a rasping effort parried over the crossbar by Slocombe, but he made no mistake when presented with a second sight of goal just moments before half-time. Having advanced from midfield the former Celtic forward, who only joined Rovers on loan from Charlton on Friday afternoon, rifled a low shot inside the far post.
Tom Lawrence replaced Watt in the second half and should have teed up the waiting Jackson after wriggling in on goal. Instead he opted to go it alone and blazed over from a tight angle.
Marshall then struck again to deliver the knockout blow, sending a superb free-kick into the bottom-left corner from 25 yards.
Victory secured Blackburn’s progression to the last 16 of this year’s FA Cup, with Rovers having made it to the quarter-finals in three of the last four seasons.
And Oxford boss Michael Appleton felt his side’s naivety was exposed by their Champi- onship oppositions, as he rued a disappointing cup exit at the hands of the Ewood Park outfit.
“I said to the players at the end of the game, and certainly at halftime, that you’ve got to earn the right to play,” Appleton said.
“I just felt that in the first 25 minutes we almost played a little bit like a five-a-side team.We probably just got caught up in the occasion a little bit at times.
“Probably the biggest disappointment is that we played a part in all their goals.
“We were just a little bit naive, and that shows why we are still a League Two side.
“But the players will learn from it.”
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Ben Marshall celebrates scoring Rovers’ third goal, inset