Stoke end goal drought in win over Blackburn
Peter Etebo’s piledriver ended Stoke’s goal drought as they edged Blackburn 1-0.
The Nigeria international made the telling contribution with spectacular 25-yard strike in the 14th minute to notch Stoke’s first goal in almost 390 minutes of football.
Bojan had a penalty saved in first-half injury time but the game was one of few chances, which is perhaps indicative of the lack of confidence from both sides.
Blackburn struck the crossbar early on through Adam Armstrong but struggled to create anything clear-cut.
Stoke’s unbeaten run is now nine but this was a welcome win after just one victory in the last 11, and marked their first three points on the road this year.
Blackburn’s poor run since January continues with a ninth defeat in 11 and they have lost four of their last five at Ewood Park – failing to score four times.
Bradley Dack was a surprise omission from Blackburn’s squad, while Corry Evans returned from injury as three alterations were made. The Potters named an unchanged side.
Dack’s replacement, Joe Rothwell, was in the thick of the action early on. First, he made space on the edge of the area before shooting tamely at Jack Butland.
Then in the eighth minute, he picked the ball up wide and fed Armstrong in the area who lashed in a shot that cannoned off the crossbar.
Stoke were agonisingly close to ending their barren run in front of goal soon afterwards when Tom Ince’s low cross found Etebo, whose powerful drive was cleared off the line by Elliott Bennett.
Etebo ended his side’s goal drought in the 14th minute though, when he met Ince’s pass 25 yards out and let fly with a ferocious effort that flew inside David Raya’s left-hand post.
The visitors were comfortable in the first half and were given a chance to double their lead in injury time when Benik Afobe sprung the offside trap and was brought down by a despairing Charlie Mulgrew challenge in the box.
Bojan stepped up to take the penalty but Raya denied him brilliantly, diving to his left to repel the effort before the ball was cleared.
To their credit, Blackburn came out reinvigorated and Armstrong stung the palms of Butland after whipping a shot goalwards from a quickly-taken corner.
Bennett flashed a drive just wide on the hour mark, as Rovers upped the tempo.
At the other end, Raya produced a fantastic save to deny former Burnley striker Sam Vokes, whose header looked destined for the bottom corner but for the goalkeeper’s miraculous intervention.
Blackburn piled forward in the dying minutes and Ben Brereton saw a close-range effort deflected wide, but Stoke held on.