Eaves earns precious point for Rotherham at Blackburn

1 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Rotherham twice came from behind to secure a 2-2 draw at out-of-form Blackburn.

Leam Richardson's men were second best for much of this encounter but showed the kind of resilience needed if the league's bottom club are to have any chance of survival.

Rovers went ahead through Arnor Sigurdsson's well-taken eighth-minute finish and it looked to be the perfect platform for a routine afternoon.

But, given the two sides have the league's worst defensive records, it was no surprise Rotherham exposed Blackburn's frailties. After a trio of superb Viktor Johansson stops, they equalised through Sean Morrison's header.

Sammie Szmodics' composed finish restored Blackburn's lead straight after the restart but Rotherham hung in and Tom Eaves' powerful header eight minutes from time gave them an improbable draw.

They are seven points from safety but it's three unbeaten for Richardson while Blackburn's wretched run continues with just one win in eight.

Rovers were ahead early after Szmodics' shot was blocked across the box and Sigurdsson controlled well before stabbing home his sixth of the campaign from 12 yards.

Johansson produced a flying save moments later to tip Harry Pickering's rasping drive over and they almost equalised in the 18th minute when a corner found Christ Tiehi but Rovers scrambled his close-range shot behind.

Rovers continued to threaten and Callum Brittain's cross found Sigurdsson but his first-time shot was blocked by Morrison, who flung himself at Semir Telalovic's shot to prevent a certain second.

Brittain was then denied by Johansson at full stretch before Szmodics sliced wide with the goal gaping.

They paid for their profligacy as Rotherham's testing corners yielded a 31st-minute equaliser when Sam Clucas found Morrison six yards out and he nodded home with ease.

Johansson was at it again in the 34th minute when he produced a stunning reaction stop to repel Szmodics' powerful low effort from the right of the area.

Rotherham's Ollie Rathbone almost grabbed a second in first-half stoppage time but curled against the crossbar and Rovers responded straight after the restart when Szmodics ran onto a James Hill pass and rounded Johansson to notch his 16th of the season.

The second half wasn't as frenetic but the Millers missed a glorious 63rd-minute opportunity to level when Sam Nombe crossed into the path of Eaves six yards out but the striker contrived to direct the ball over.

Rovers dominated proceedings without forcing Johansson into heroics like those in the first half and they were sucker-punched again with eight minutes remaining.

Sebastian Revan whipped a dangerous cross from the right onto the head of Eaves, who stooped to convert into the bottom-right corner to secure only Rotherham's third away point this season.

The managers

Blackburn's Jon Dahl Tomasson:

"With the performance we probably deserved more. We knew we were playing a team fighting against relegation.

"We knew what they were good at, second balls, chaos moments, set plays, crosses into the box and defending in a low block which they did really well so I was impressed with the amount of chances we were able to create.

"This team probably needs a 2-0 lead when you're playing against teams good at set plays. The goals we gave away on set plays, we should have done better.

"The second goal, we should also have done better. First of all preventing the cross where we had two against one at the side and two against one in the box where we are losing that dual.

"But I think the amount of chances was a lot. I think the goalkeeper of the opponent was probably the best player. He was excellent."

Rotherham's Leam Richardson:

"I thought we started both halves unlike ourselves and were punished. Very respectful of Blackburn. They've got some good players, been together for a while and quite fluent in what they're doing.

"But for the level of effort and endeavour in what we are trying to do with the bodies - I don't think there will be another team in the country who've used less bodies than us over the Christmas period - it's commendable to the players so they take the credit for this period. Take the point and move on.

"They didn't give up. The game got stretched, possibly doing the wrong thing for the right reasons at times, but we tried to take control of the game. The subs helped us. To go behind at any stage is difficult so to have the mindset to come back into the game and possibly go and get more from it is pleasing."

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