Tony Mowbray saluted Ben Brereton Diaz’s maturity after his 20th goal of the season earned Blackburn a vital 2-1 win over Barnsley.
Rovers threatened to blow the Tykes away in a dominant first half and took the lead through Joe Rothwell’s composed effort, but they were punished for missed chances when Carlton Morris equalised via a deflection on the stroke of half-time.
Chile international Brereton Diaz settled a tight contest with a clinical finish midway through the second half and Mowbray praised his character after Rovers made it nine victories in 11 and moved within a point of the Sky Bet Championship summit.
He said: “I think Ben’s matured rather than improved. He’s always been a good player.
“We signed him as an 18-year-old boy, with Danny Graham and Bradley Dack starring for the team.
“What has happened is the external pressures of living in a dressing room with senior players and people who have had great careers and huge personalities, it can suppress a young guy, and as those personalities have left the dressing room – for lots of different reasons – Brereton, as he’s grown from an 18-year-old to a 22-year-old, he’s just matured into a man.
“He’s a big personality in the dressing room now himself. He’s a wonderful footballer, but he’s a wonderful human being first. A brilliant lad. He’s a funny character.
“We’re all delighted for him and it’s great that he can take some accolades.”
Barnsley remain 23rd after winning just one of their last 22 games and boss Poya Asbaghi was left to rue the “decisive moment” when a promising counter-attack opportunity ended with the Reds conceding the winner against the league’s in-form side.
Asbaghi said: “We started well in the first 10-15 minutes, created some chances. Then, after those minutes we played into Blackburn’s hands.
“What has made them have really good form is their counter-attacks and we were playing into their hands, in really vulnerable positions to lose the ball.
“Obviously 1-0 for them was logical for them, but then we got a good equaliser from Morris.
“We came in at half-time and talked about not giving the ball away too easily in dangerous positions.
“In the second half we got more control, but then there was the decisive moment when we had a good counter-attacking opportunity, and instead of creating a good chance to score maybe, instead we lose the ball, they counter-attack on us and that’s 2-1 and that of course was the decisive moment of the game.
“It wasn’t until the end we created good chances to equalise. We’re disappointed to lose the game.”
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