Blackburn produced a stunning display as they beat Nottingham Forest on their own patch for the first time this season. Three goals in eleven minutes helped the Lancashire side come back from 1-0 down to claim a 1-3 victory.
It appeared that Forest would continue their fantastic start to the season when Matty Fryatt turned in a rebound, after an effort from Britt Assombalonga hit the post, to put the home side ahead at the interval. However, Gary Bowyer’s side responded in the second-half and came away with all three points. The come-back began with on-loan Bolton defender Alex Baptiste striking the ball in to an empty net, after Forest keeper Karl Darlow failed to deal with a corner.
However, Forest responded immediately and substitute Henri Lansbury was unlucky not to get on the score sheet when his first shot was palmed away by Jason Steele, only for his second attempt to hit the upright. Blackburn managed to escape with the score still tied. A few moments later and another substitute, this time for Rovers – Rudy Gestede – punished Forest for not being able to convert their chances as he headed a Lee Williamson delivery confortably home, sending the travelling supporters delirious.
Just when Blackburn fans had stopped celebrating and sat back in their seats, their iconic talisman Jordan Rhodes sealed the victory when he gained possession on the edge of his box, before turning and shooting in to the corner to give Rovers three points and sent a huge message to the rest of the Championship. Their victory sees them lifted to eighth place in the league, now just one place behind Forest themselves, who, up until early October, appeared to be running away with the League.
In spite of a few blips here and there throughout the start of the new season, Blackburn have looked promising and appear set for a real attempt on a return to the Premier League, three seasons after relegation from the top flight, in what was a dark phase for the former champions.
Without re-visiting memory lane too much, it’s fair to say Rovers were in the headlines throughout the 2011/12 season when they were relegated from the Premier League for the first time in a decade – and in very dismal circumstances too, as fan protests were at the forefront of every news story.
Steve Kean and current club owners ‘Venky’s’ were at the centre of every protest and the Ewood Park faithful made their opinions very clear. Protests even continued throughout the first month of life in the Championship, until Kean eventually resigned, claiming his role was ‘untenable’.
Since then, former managers Henning Berg and Michael Appleton have endured short, unsuccessful stints at the Rovers helm, until Gary Bowyer was appointed as temporary manager back in March 2013. Bowyer himself claimed he was unsure whether he would remain at the club, however, two months later he was appointed as permanent manager. So far, he has managed to steady the ship, so to speak. Moreover, Blackburn fans and neutrals alike will see this impressive win at Forest as something of a turning point and expectations may start rising as the club progress throughout the season – and quite right too.
To some, Blackburn are seen as a club that have punched above their weight for decades. Blackburn claimed an incredible Premier League title win in 1995, were relegated in 1999 and earned promotion back into the top flight in 2001. They then spent ten years as a solid outfit against the giants of English football and became the life and soul of the town of Blackburn, so for supporters to witness their relapse and eventual relegation hit hard.
In the face of their recent good form, fans have still voted with their feet, as only 12,852 attended their mid-week win over Birmingham, despite the impressive Ewood park’s 30,000 capacity.
Many loyal fans are still unhappy with the current owners, following their takeover back in 2008 and the reported debt of more than £50 million back in November last year. While they have invested millions in to the club – most notably equalling the former transfer record (Andrew Cole in 2001) with the purchase of Jordan Rhodes for £8 million, their relegation from the Premier League took its toll and cost the club a lot of money.
The appointment of Kean, following the controversial sacking of Sam Allardyce, proved to be the final straw for some fans. Kean oversaw an awful 2011-12 season, which saw them finish in 19th, with relegation confirmed following a 1-0 home defeat to local rivals Wigan Athletic.
The majority of the protests focused around Kean and his tenure. Many called for his dismissal, but he managed to last the whole season, before resigning in September 2012. Berg and Appleton broke records for the shortest managerial spells and the club’s problems worsened. Bowyer has since slowly steadied the ship, turning the focus back to on-pitch issues and has assembled a fine team in the process.
Could Blackburn achieve promotion after narrowly missing out on a play-off place last season? Leave a comment below.