Football

Honours even in Allardyce`s absence

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Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce stayed away once more after having treatment on a heart complaint and his side failed to deliver in his absence.

Rovers were hoping to chalk up a fifth successive home win in the league and give Allardyce a boost in the process.

Instead, with assistant Neil McDonald in charge, they had to settle for a point against a Stoke side that continue to improve.

After a bright start, Blackburn faded and looked lethargic following the defeat by Fulham in midweek.

Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen had to look alert in the seventh minute and did well to block a shot from Franco Di Santo after Keith Andrews had created the opening.

But that was as good as it got for Blackburn in the first half.

The visitors hit back and three minutes later Dean Whitehead tested Paul Robinson following a swift counter-attack.

Whitehead should have given his side the lead in the 20th minute after being released by Ricardo Fuller but failed to get enough power on his effort and Robinson pushed it away.

It was an open game and David Dunn swung in a corner four minutes later. Di Santo peeled away from his marker but failed to get a decent connection on his header.

Blackburn were forced to make a change in the 32nd minute when Dunn limped off and was replaced by Roberts.

Dunn had been in good form with six goals this season so his premature exit was a blow for the home side.

However, it did mean Di Santo would have Roberts for company instead of playing as lone striker.

Blackburn were then grateful to Robinson for keeping the scores level in the 39th minute as the defence was caught on the hop following a quick break.

He made a marvellous point-blank save from Liam Lawrence after Mamady Sidibe had delivered a cross from the right.

Lawrence was left holding his head in disbelief following the goalkeeper's block.

Stoke were beginning to find their rhythm and looking dangerous on the counter-attack. They were content to defend deep and in numbers to frustrate the home side.

Andy Wilkinson then got goal side of Gael Givet in the 53rd minute only to find the side netting with his effort.

A minute later Blackburn almost took the lead when skipper Ryan Nelsen fired in an overhead kick but Sorensen managed to push it away at the last minute.

The home side stepped up the pressure and Sorensen was beaten in the 56th minute but Steven Nzonzi's shot cannoned off the post.

Back came Stoke and Fuller worked his way into the penalty area six minutes later.

He set up Whitehead in front of the posts only for the midfielder to lose his footing at the vital moment and the chance went begging.

Emerton then cracked a shot wide from 25 yards in the 72nd minute before play switched back down the other end.

Fuller showed good skill to carve out an opening three minutes later, only for substitute James Beattie to hoist his effort over the bar.

Then Chris Samba headed wide in stoppage time for Blackburn following a cross from substitute Morten Gamst Pedersen as the match ended in stalemate.

However this was another good performance on the road for Stoke, who are on course to preserving their status again in the top flight.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Keith Andrews
Morten Gamst Pedersen
Mamady Sidibe
Stoke City
Fulham
Steven Nzonzi
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Paul Robinson
Premier League
Andy Wilkinson
Gael Givet
Ryan Nelsen
David Dunn
James Beattie
Dean Whitehead
Ricardo Fuller
Franco Di Santo
Liam Lawrence
Thomas Sorensen
Paul Robinson
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