Blackburn Rovers pay price for slow starts
SOFT goals at the start of each half and a shocking late error from goalkeeper Jake Kean condemned Rovers to their fifth away defeat of the season last night.
Top scorer Jordan Rhodes – on his first return to his former club – brought Gary Bowyer’s side level in the 30th minute after they had allowed Luke Hyam to put Ipswich ahead early on.
But they shot themselves in the foot for the second time three minutes after the restart as Carlos Edwards restored the Tractor Boys’ advantage.
Worse was to follow, however, when Kean got in a mix up with Scott Dann and so gifting Frank Nouble the easiest goal he will score in his career.
The result ended Rovers’ nine-game unbeaten league run against Ipswich and meant they missed a fantastic opportunity to close the gap on the play-off places.
Bowyer was forced into making two changes to the team that started Saturday’s rousing 1-0 home win over Leeds United. Chris Taylor had to pull out because of personal reasons while David Dunn was deemed not fit enough to play two matches in four days.
Their places were taken by Lee Williamson and DJ Campbell. Campbell – like Rhodes an ex-Tractor Boys forward – was making his first start since March. And with less than 90 seconds on the clock he went close to marking it with his first goal for Rovers.
Campbell – who netted 10 times in a highly successful loan spell at Portman Road last season – brought a deflected shot from Williamson under his control and fired in a left-footed effort that Dean Gerken did well to keep out.
It proved a crucial save as two minutes later Ipswich were in front. Tommy Smith’s long ball into the box was headed clear by Tommy Spurr but only as far as Hyam. Given time and space the midfielder took a touch before sending a low 20-yard drive past Kean and into the bottom corner.
It was the worst possible start for Rovers, who have now conceded at least one goal in every one of their last 28 Championship games away from home.
But they cannot say they were not warned as it was the third match in succession that Mick McCarthy’s men had opened the scoring in the first five minutes. Their lead should have been wiped out in the 14th minute by Josh King.
But the flying winger, having raced on to a fine pass over the top by Rhodes, lost control of the ball when he was bearing down on goal and Smith got back to clear.
King’s blushes were spared, however, by Rhodes on the half-hour mark. There seemed little danger when Dann aimed a hopeful ball over the top. But Rhodes sensed an opportunity and after beating the offside trap he slipped past Gerken before rolling the ball right footed into the empty net to take his tally for the term up to 11.
Rovers enjoyed 60 per cent possession in an open first half and deserved to be level going into half-time. But they fell behind in the 48th minute.
Jason Lowe prevented Tractor Boys full debutant Stephen Hunt from finishing off a jinking run into the area. But with Lowe's fellow defenders at sixes and sevens the ball broke for Edwards to slam home from close range.
Rovers’ hopes of a second equaliser rested with Rhodes. And the Scotland international – who has scored 126 goals in 214 matches since being controversially sold by then Ipswich boss Roy Keane in July 2009 – nearly got when he charged down an attempted Gerken clearance and saw the ball drift just wide.
Rovers boss Bowyer – who lost Hanley to injury and saw Todd Kane picked up a fifth yellow card of the campaign, ruling him out of Saturday’s trip to QPR – threw on Rudy Gestede for his debut.
But it proved in vain as with four minutes to play Kean made a complete hash of a long clearance over the top. The keeper allowed the ball to bounce between his legs and Nouble had the simple task of tapping into an empty net.
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