Peter the Great rocks Rovers

Rovers began well in Monday’s Premier League encounter and

Christopher Samba headed against the bar before seeing a goal

disallowed but it was Stoke who took the lead in the 17th minute

through Crouch. The big striker grabbed his second on the stroke of

half-time by finishing off a break and, although substitute David

Goodwillie pulled one back with 21 minutes to go, it was not enough

to prevent a third successive home defeat for Rovers. The last time

Blackburn played at Ewood Park in a 2-1 defeat by Bolton two weeks

ago the abuse aimed at manager Steve Kean reached its peak, but

four points from matches against Liverpool and United seem to have

earned the Scot some breathing space. The home fans

enthusiastically clapped their team onto the pitch and they almost

had a goal to cheer inside five minutes as Stoke goalkeeper Thomas

Sorensen missed Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner and Samba headed

against the bar. The ball was cleared for another corner and this

time the defender did find the net but referee Lee Mason felt

Ayegbeni Yakubu had impeded Sorensen and awarded a free-kick. Stoke

weathered the early storm, though, and in the 17th minute they did

what Rovers could not and made it count. Dean Whitehead clipped a

lovely ball into the area and Crouch, who was helped by a slip from

Samba, chested it down and planted a volley into the bottom corner

for his 100th goal in league football. Crouch then attempted an

ambitious effort from 25 yards that forced Blackburn goalkeeper

Mark Bunn into a diving save before Sorensen was also drawn into

the action, pushing a shot from dangerman Samba around the post.

Blackburn were having a lot of possession without producing much

end product, although David Dunn did test Sorensen with a shot from

20 yards while Yakubu’s turn and shot after a free-kick had not

been properly cleared flew just wide of the post. Stoke had been

pegged back in their own half for a substantial period of time but

they inflicted a potentially killer blow in the 45th minute as

Matthew Etherington ran virtually from his own box before crossing

for Crouch, who finished the chance in much the same way he had the

first. If Blackburn were to have any chance of taking something

from the game they surely had to respond early and Pedersen should

have done better than slam a shot well wide when a corner came back

to him 10 yards out. The home fans were beginning to get frustrated

at the slow pace of their side’s attacks and Crouch would have had

a hat-trick had he managed to direct a sharp volley from Jonathan

Woodgate’s cross on target. Kean responded by sending on Goodwillie

for Radosav Petrovic, and the striker had a chance immediately when

a long throw from Pedersen caused trouble but he could not keep his

shot down. Crouch seemed determined to get his third and an

ambitious long-ranger was not far away. An almighty downpour

descended on Ewood Park in the 69th minute and suddenly Blackburn

were on the scoresheet. Inevitably, it came from a Pedersen corner,

which was headed towards goal by Grant Hanley and Goodwillie

eventually turned it in just ahead of Yakubu for his first Premier

League goal. Gael Givet got a warm reception on his return to the

side after minor heart surgery when he replaced Adam Henley. Yakubu

has been superb for Rovers this season, netting 13 goals, but only

he will know how he failed to equalise in the 79th minute. A

Pedersen long throw fell to the striker virtually on the goal line

but Woodgate somehow blocked his shot and the rebound fell into the

arms of Sorensen. Kean’s troubles were then summed up as he was

felled on the touchline by an accidental tackle from Pedersen and,

despite a succession of balls into the box, Rovers could not find a

way through.