Blackburn’s play-off bid hits the buffers as they lose at home to Stoke

Jacob Brown’s early strike was enough for the Potters.

By Press Association Published: 18 April 2022 - 4.12pm

Blackburn’s play-off hopes are hanging by a thread after a 1-0 defeat at home to Stoke.

Jacob Brown’s solitary strike did the damage as he combined with Josh Maja in the fourth minute to score his 13th goal of the season.

Michael O’Neill’s side were in cruise control in the first half, with Rovers chasing shadows, much to the annoyance of the crowd.

Blackburn were much improved after the break and Sam Gallagher saw a header superbly saved before rattling the woodwork, and goalkeeper Jack Bonham also denied Ryan Hedges brilliantly at the death.

But they could not break down a stubborn Stoke side, who had chances on their own late on through the impressive Brown.

With top-six rivals winning elsewhere, this defeat represents a hammer blow for Blackburn, who have lost three out of their last five games. They remain two points off sixth-placed Sheffield United who have a game in hand.

Stoke made it back-to-back away wins.

Rovers made a disastrous start as Stoke’s front two combined to give the visitors an early lead. Maja’s first-time pass for Brown caught out the Rovers defence and the striker shrugged off the attentions of Scott Wharton before coolly slotting under goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

Blackburn’s best chance of a lacklustre first half came in the 43rd minute when Stoke lost the ball and a Taylor Harwood-Bellis slip let in Ben Brereton Diaz whose near-post drive was repelled by Bonham.

At the other end, Bradley Johnson’s poor backpass almost gifted a chance to Maja but Kaminski cleared for a corner, from which former Blackburn loanee Harwood-Bellis saw his snapshot deflected behind.

Tony Mowbray brought on Joe Rothwell for the second half in a bid to alter proceedings, though their first sight of goal came from another midfielder, but Lewis Travis lashed over from 20 yards.

The threat at the other end was still there as Romaine Sawyers and Maja combined for the former, but the strike was weak.

A change in urgency ignited the crowd as Rovers looked to get forward quicker and they were almost level in the 69th minute when Gallagher rose majestically to meet Harry Pickering’s cross but his header was brilliantly tipped away by Bonham.

Maja was inches away from converting a Brown cross as the game became stretched, but Rovers then went agonisingly close to an equaliser when Gallagher created space before firing a ferocious 12-yard shot that hammered the crossbar before going over.

Brown saw a shot blocked as the Potters chased a second, but they were ultimately indebted to Bonham, who plucked Hedges’ goalbound header away and Brereton Diaz put the rebound into the side-netting.

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