Lewis Baker long-ranger earns Stoke win over Blackburn

Blackburn Rovers v Stoke City – Sky Bet Championship – Ewood Park
(Image credit: Will Matthews)

Lewis Baker’s long-range strike gave Stoke City a hard-fought 1-0 win at Blackburn in front of their rumoured new manager Alex Neil.

Stoke’s captain Baker settled the contest in the 27th minute with a 25-yard strike of unerring accuracy that arrowed into the bottom corner for his second goal this term.

Neil will have enjoyed the first half which the Potters dominated and they would have been out of sight at the break but for Thomas Kaminski producing superb saves to deny Baker and Aden Flint.

For all that dominance, the visitors had to dig in and grind out a result in a second half dominated by Jon Dahl Tomasson’s men, whose best chance fell to Bradley Dack, but his volley was blocked by the Stoke defence.

That grit and determination will arguably please Neil more, as they weathered an increasing Rovers storm to register their first win and clean sheet on the road this season.

Defeat means Blackburn have now lost three successive league games without scoring.

Dack made his first league start of the season for Rovers, while Stoke made five alterations from the Sunderland defeat that cost Michael O’Neill his job.

Stoke dominated the first half and would have taken the lead after Dwight Gayle intercepted Kaminski’s sloppy pass and supplied Liam Delap but a combination of the goalkeeper and frantic defending denied him.

Kaminski then produced two superb 11th-minute saves as he first clawed Baker’s curling free-kick behind. From the resulting corner, Gayle’s cushioned pass found Flint, whose bullet header was parried by the Rovers stopper.

Jacob Brown’s low drive was deflected wide soon after and Sam Clucas blazed over after a loose Ben Brereton Diaz touch played him in.

The Potters took a deserved 27th-minute lead through Baker, who let fly with a powerful 25-yard drive that flew into the bottom corner past the despairing Kaminski who would have expected to keep the ball out.

Blackburn’s only first-half chance came when Dack attempted to lift the ball over Jack Bonham, who stood tall to divert wide.

But the hosts returned after the restart with a more aggressive approach which saw Brereton Diaz drag wide and, on the hour, he laid the ball into the path of Dack, whose ferocious volley was heroically blocked by the Stoke defence from 12 yards.

Rovers thought they should have had a penalty when their Chilean forward went down after a Ben Wilmot challenge, and their frustrations were intensified when both Brereton Diaz and Tyrhys Dolan curled over as the game became Blackburn’s attack against Stoke’s defence.

Substitute Ryan Hedges struck the side netting in the dying minutes but Stoke held out to record an impressive win.

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