Blackburn’s mini-revival was brought to a stuttering halt at Ewood Park as Peter Crouch scored twice in the first half to give Stoke their first win of the New Year and enhance their European prospects.
After their shock win against Manchester United 48 hours prior relieved most of the pressure on manager Steve Kean’s shoulders Rovers returned to their old ways succumbing to an eight home defeat in 10 games. Whilst the victory at Old Trafford appeared to be a turning point in their season they fell back into old habits as the Potters left the North West with maximum points and moved to within inches of a Europa League place. Tony Pulis’ side will be grateful to emerge victorious from this one with Crouch wrapping the game up before the half time whistle with two expertly taken goals before David Goodwillie set up a tense finish scoring with 20 minutes remaining.
Supporters offered Kean and his players a rare warm reception before kick off with their New Years Eve win over United doing much to repair the relationship between the two. That seemed to rub off on the Rovers starting eleven who begun the gum with a vim and vigour that has been absent from their play for much of the campaign thus far. Christopher Samba rattled the bar with a powerful header before seeing a goal ruled out for a foul by Yakubu on Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen. The Dane than had his palms stung after David Dunn decided to try his luck with vicious strike from distance. However the Potters soon eased themselves into the contest and took the lead just after the quarter hour with Crouch expertly controlling the ball on his chest before firing past Mark Bunn for his 100th Premier League goal. Still the home side attacked with purpose and Samba was denied again seeing Sorensen tipping away another header before denying Yakubu as the missed chanced began to pile up. They were made to pay just before half time as Crouch again found the net smashing a left footed effort into the roof of the net after brilliantly taking Matthew Etherington’s centre down on his thigh.
He could have completed his hat trick just after the break but could only volley over the bar after Jonathan Woodgate’s had picked him out at the back post. Stoke continued to control the game stifling the home side in the final third and it was the introduction of Goodwillie that gave Rovers a chance of rescuing the game. The Scottish striker came on just before the hour and ten minutes after his introduction he was on hand to prod home after the Potters failed to clear Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner. They than came within inches of equalising after Samba flicked a long throw onto Yakubu who’s strike was saved superbly on the line by Woodgate. It was the best Rovers could muster as they missed the chance to lift themselves closer to safety.