Super-sub Diouf earns Rovers a point

Darren Bent’s second-half double looked likely to earn Steve

Bruce’s men a rare Premier League win on Monday – but Sam

Allardyce’s Rovers clawed back first through Morten Gamst Pedersen

then Diouf. Then in a grandstand finish which bore little

resemblance to the dismal fare on offer in the first period, Marton

Fulop brilliantly parried a point-blank header from Nikola Kalinic

– before Chris Samba poked the rebound wide. The bare statistics

will point to Rovers extending their winless run to eight games,

while Bruce’s injury-hit side can now number just one win from 11.

Neither side had showed any sign of improving their winless recent

records in a dismal first half, memorable only for the solid debut

of David Meyler. Meyler cut a composed figure in the centre of the

visitors’ midfield but all around him there were far too many

nerves to fashion clear-cut chances. An unusually careless

back-header by Ryan Nelsen almost let in Bent in the 18th minute

but the striker was pushed wide and the move came to nothing. And

two minutes later Rovers came close when Morten Gamst Pedersen

curled over a ball to the far post and found Benni McCarthy, whose

header from a tight angle found the roof of the net. Meyler had the

chance to make an instant name for himself when he let fly in the

22nd minute with a long-range strike which coasted wide of target.

Rovers, more desperate for a win in the circumstances, began the

second period with a higher tempo but their anxiety to get forward

played into the visitors’ hands. Against the run of play, Daryl

Murphy threaded his way into the Rovers box in the 52nd minute and

sparked the goalmouth melee which brought the visitors’ opener.

Murphy’s low cross was flapped by Robinson into the path of Jordan

Henderson. When his shot was blocked by Ryan Nelsen, Bent was on

hand to lash in the rebound. But Rovers responded by drawing level

inside a minute, McCarthy’s flick leaving Pedersen in space down

the left to cut in and drill a low shot in off the post past Fulop.

Rovers maintained their new-found momentum and could have gone

ahead in the 57th minute when Andrews just failed to connect with

Pedersen’s deep cross in front of goal. But the visitors regained

the lead against the run of play in the 65th minute when

Henderson’s punt forward sent Bent clear to slide a cool finish

across Robinson and into the net for his 13th goal of the Premier

League campaign. Two minutes later Rovers came close to a second

quickfire equaliser, as Pedersen crossed to the edge of the box

where Nzonzi spooned a fine chance over the bar. After Bent was

played through again to fire a hat-trick chance inches wide in the

72nd minute, Allardyce had seen enough and responded with a triple

substitution. Forced to throw caution to the wind, the Rovers boss

introduced Diouf, Franco di Santo and Nikola Kalinic in place of

McCarthy, Jason Roberts and David Hoilett. And in the 77th minute

Allardyce’s brave move paid off when Diouf got on the end of a

cross by former Sunderland team-mate Pascal Chimbonda to head home

the equaliser. Rovers should have snatched victory in the dying

seconds when Kalinic’s header from a Pedersen free-kick was

brilliantly saved by Fulop, with Samba failing dismally to convert

the rebound.