Potters pile misery on Rovers

The Potters ended a run of four successive league defeats in

comprehensive fashion as Rovers’ troubles continued. Stoke’s

victory increased the pressure on Rovers manager Steve Kean, who

has now won just six times in 34 league matches, as Ruben Rochina’s

late consolation had little impact. Rovers remain mired in the

bottom three and this performance highlighted why, despite Kean’s

insistence that they have not played badly this season. Blackburn

have just one victory this season and have taken only three points

from their last eight games. With form like that, it is surprising

that owners Venky’s sanctioned a new contract, confirmed this week,

for the Rovers boss. Stoke may have lost their last two home games

but the other pre-match statistics gave little encouragement to

Blackburn and those figures only worsened on a blustery afternoon

in the Potteries. Rovers have now lost the last four meetings,

although they finally ended a goal drought against the Potters

which had lasted 599 minutes. Understandably, considering both

teams were low on form and confidence, there was little for the

crowd to get excited about in the first half, which could be summed

up in three incidents. Two of those involved Blackburn midfielder

Steven Nzonzi and his flailing elbows which caught Ryan Shawcross

and then Whelan in the head in separate incidents about three

minutes apart. The ball spent much of the time in the air, which

was not a good ploy in the wind swirling around the stadium but did

help in the creation of the opening goal. Stoke’s first genuine

chance to threaten the Rovers goal came when Nzonzi’s foul on

Crouch presented Jermaine Pennant with a free-kick from the right.

He produced a perfect delivery and Delap got in front of Gael Givet

to divert a glancing header past goalkeeper Paul Robinson and

inside the far post. By contrast, Blackburn’s first free-kick in a

dangerous area was drilled straight into the wall by Pedersen and

even when they did get a shot on target from Scott Dann’s header

Whelan comfortably cleared off the line under no pressure.

Blackburn should have equalised within a minute of the second half

after Rochina had dribbled his way to the byline and cleverly

backheeled to Mauro Formica but the Argentinian completely missed

his shot from four yards. There followed a brief interruption in

play due to a number of black bin bags blowing across the pitch

which could easily have represented some bizarre, ironic review of

the game so far. When the action resumed, Robert Huth was left

wondering how he missed the target as he powered a header wide from

Matt Etherington’s far post cross in the 54th minute. But

fortunately for Stoke they did not have long to rue that error as

four minutes later Etherington picked out Jon Walters in the

penalty area and he laid the ball off for Whelan, with the aid of a

deflection from Dann, to drive home from 25 yards for his first

goal since February 2010. The match was wrapped up in the 72nd

minute when Crouch clinically converted Marc Wilson’s long ball

into the Rovers penalty area with a left-footed shot. Walters then

fired wide from the other side of the penalty area as Stoke

threatened to run amok. When Rovers finally threatened, it was too

little too late as Rochina fired home from distance in the 86th

minute after Hoilett had cut in from the left and Nzonzi had

delivered the final pass for the Spaniard. The final whistle

brought relief for Stoke but more grief for Kean and his Blackburn

team.