Stoke 3-1 Blackburn

By Sam LyonBBC Sport
Delap and Pennant
Rory Delap and Jermaine Pennant celebrate Stoke's opener

Stoke ended a run of four straight league defeats with a comprehensive win over struggling Blackburn to pile the pressure on Rovers boss Steve Kean.

Despite having just signed a new deal, Kean faced protests from his own fans through the game and in the end Rovers' fragility was starkly exposed by Stoke.

Rory Delap headed the opener from Jermaine Pennant's cross, before Glenn Whelan's deflected strike made it 2-0.

And Peter Crouch's neat shot sealed the win before Ruben Rochina's consolation.

The win takes the Potters back up into the top half of the table as they extended their unbeaten run against Rovers to six Premier League games.

Defeated Kean sees positives

But for Blackburn, an eighth defeat of the season leaves them firmly in the mire of the bottom three and looking increasingly like relegation favourites.

While a record of six wins in 33 league games would get many football managers the sack, at Blackburn it earned Kean a revised contractexternal-link.

However, while that did little to appease the Rovers fans desperate for a managerial change, it did at least appear to have a positive impact on the starting XI who were full of running and commitment early on.

That commitment over-ran on occasion in the case of Steven Nzonzi, who was fortunate to get away with not one but two elbows - the first on Ryan Shawcross, the second on Whelan - but nevertheless it was impressive to see the visitors clearly playing for their manager.

For all their endeavour, however, a distinct lack of quality in key positions cost Blackburn dear and as Stoke grew stronger as the game went on, Kean's men simply fell away.

The fact that it took Rovers until the 45th minute of a first half devoid of much quality football from either side to get a shot in on goal - Rochina's long-ranger easily saved - only underlined their lack of attacking threat.

By that time Stoke were already ahead, Delap making the most of a superb Pennant free-kick to head into the corner on 28 minutes.

And while Blackburn burst out of the traps in the second half - and should have drawn level on the back of a Rochina dribble into the box, only for Mauro Formica to completely miss contact with the ball six yards out with the goal gaping - the visitors' confidence evaporated after Stoke's second.

That came from the boot of Whelan, the Irishman slamming home via a big deflection off Scott Dann 18 yards out after good build-up play from Matthew Etherington and Jon Walters.

Not long after it was 3-0, Crouch providing a fine angled finish 12 yards out after Marc Wilson's long ball over the top had caught the Blackburn defence flat-footed.

Pulis proud of Stoke 'journey'

Rochina drilled in an excellent consolation in the 86th minute to briefly threaten a Rovers rally.

But in fairness a heavy defeat was little more than Blackburn deserved in the end and Kean must only expect further protests from the club's supporters should Rovers fail to get anything from their next few matches against Swansea, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis: "We've had a difficult start to the season in terms of games, injuries and form but we've had ups and downs before and we will again.

"The difference this season is that we're on a different journey with our European games and it's tough to juggle.

"But this was a good win for us today. We played well, created lots of chances and got what we deserved."

Blackburn boss Steve Kean: "The miss from Mauro Formica at the start of the second half was crucial. If that goes in it changes things completely.

"But I don't think we played that badly today - we created chances and we're disappointed not to have taken them. I looked at the statistics and we had 15 shots on goal, 10 of them on target.

"What we've got to do now is work on the training ground at shutting the door at the back - and the good news is that we have senior players like Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba to return and strengthen us in defence. There are some good things happening here but at the moment our play is not getting the rewards it deserves."

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