Soccer

Damien Johnson delighted with Blackburn’s ‘outstanding’ win over Stoke

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Blackburn’s first-team coach Damien Johnson
Blackburn's first-team coach Damien Johnson Blackburn’s first-team coach Damien Johnson (Tim Markland/PA)

Blackburn first-team coach Damien Johnson saluted an “outstanding” performance after they beat Stoke 3-1 to move away from relegation trouble.

Rovers went into the game with the worst form in the Sky Bet Championship, which resulted in Jon Dahl Tomasson leaving as boss on Friday and John Eustace now in the hot seat.

Johnson and fellow first-team coach David Lowe took the team for the game, with Eustace coming into the dugout in the second half, and he will have enjoyed the performance as they raced into a three-goal lead to shellshock their opponents.

Tyrhys Dolan’s close-range finish set Rovers on their way before the Championship’s top scorer, Sammie Szmodics, headed a second and Dolan’s composed finish put Blackburn in dreamland.

Former Blackburn striker Niall Ennis pulled one back before the break but Daniel Johnson saw his weak penalty saved just after half-time and Blackburn comfortably stopped the rot, registering a first league win since December.

Johnson praised Blackburn’s players for responding to the “difficult” last few days.

He said: “I’m not going to lie, it feels good. It’s been a difficult couple of days. Great credit to the players. It’s not easy for them but I thought they were outstanding today.

“Their concentration, their application, how they went about it, the togetherness they showed as you could see towards the end, was superb, so great credit to them.

“They did lots of good things. I think we showed two sides of the game today. Lots of good things in the first half and then we dug in.

“We knew that we’d find space on transition so there was an element of allowing Stoke to come onto us. I think at times in the game we could look after the ball better but when you’ve had a run of results like this, the important thing is you get three points.”

Stoke have won twice in the last 17 games and are only three points clear of the drop zone.

Steven Schumacher said: “The start is just not good enough. If you give a Championship team a 3-0 head start, then you’re doomed, because they don’t really have to do anything else in the game.

“That’s kind of what we did. We didn’t start the game well enough. They scored goals that were too easy to score and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“From the third goal onwards, I thought we looked better, we looked like a team. We were positive, we passed the ball forwards which we didn’t do up until they scored the third goal, and we won some tackles and some duels which is the bare minimum.

“We’ve got to show a bit more character, a bit more belief, a bit more bravery. More importantly, we’ve got to show a bit more fight.”