DANNY KEEPS ROVERS IN WITH A SHOUT
BLACKBURN boss Tony Mowbray hopes his side can put doubt into fellow relegation candidates’ minds after a hard-fought win over Aston Villa kept their hopes of staying up alive.
In a clash that has graced the Premier League in previous seasons, Danny Graham’s 13th strike of the season proved to be crucial.
And Mowbray highlighted his matchwinner ahead of their key clash against Brentford as they remained in the drop zone only on goal difference by a single strike to Nottingham Forest.
“The most important thing was that we won our game and we managed to do that,” he said.
“If we can go to Brentford next week and win, I know it still might not be enough, but we have to just put that doubt in everybody’s mind.
“Ultimately we’ll send them out next week to try and finish the job, win the football match and see what happens.
“He’s still way off fitness wise where he should be and yet I think players like Danny Graham, when you need a goal and you need to win a football match, you have to have him on the pitch.”
Sam Gallagher ran clear of Nathan Baker after three minutes to curl across the box ahead of Graham, while Derrick Williams’ 12thminute cross was volleyed first time by Danny Guthrie and fizzed off target in a bright Blackburn start.
Ryan Nyambe fired from a tight angle after 26 minutes forcing Sam Johnstone into a low save, while Elliott Ward shot wide from the resulting corner.
Villa forward Jonathan Kodjia tried his luck from distance less than ten minutes before the break but blasted into the stands.
Nyambe could have given Rovers a 38th-minute lead after Baker slipped but drew a magnificent stop from Manchester United loanee Johnstone.
Kodjia cut inside his man three minutes before the break to curl a powerful effort which David Raya punched to safety. The Spanish stopper comfortwho ably saved Henri Lansbury’s free-kick moments later, while Graham wasted a guilt-edged chance after swinging and failing to connect with a closerange effort.
But Blackburn took a deserved 54th-minute lead when Baker carelessly gave away possession to Jason Lowe, who threaded through to Graham slotted coolly past Johnstone.
Gallagher darted down the right wing and delivered a teasing 68th minute cross which Williams was unable to convert.
Lucas Joao’s late chance deep into stoppage time could have put the game beyond doubt but the striker shot off target as Rovers held out.
Manager Steve Bruce claimed it was arguably the worst his side has played since landing the Villa Park job as he bemoaned their away form.
“A big club like ours, away from home, fours wins all season, is nowhere near good enough to where we should be or want to be.” he said. “Too many times I’ve seen us unfortunately play the way we did where we haven’t done enough in every department. We still have to improve because we can’t be happy with mid-table in the Championship.
“We’ve still got a mop-up job of what have got to leave the club and we’ve still got a few players to bring in to make us better, because at the moment, we’ve still got work to do.”