Blackburn 1-1 West Brom: Joe Rothwell goal cancels out Filip Krovinovic opener as Slaven Bilic’s side spurn chance to move top of Championship
- West Brom dropped two points by drawing 1-1 away at Blackburn Rovers
- Baggies dominated the first half by forcing Christian Walton into multiple stops
- The visitors took the lead when Filip Krovinovic fired under Walton on 41 minutes
- Joe Rothwell fired in from Sam Gallagher’s low cross to equalise on 63 minutes
- Hosts almost clinched win when Semi Ajayi cleared off the line in final moments
If West Brom do not navigate the direct route into the Premier League, this will arguably be the fixture that they look back upon with most regret.
There was a full range of emotions at Ewood Park as Slaven Bilic’s team appeared on course to reopen a five-pojnt buffer for an hour only for the raft of chances – either repelled by the outstanding Christian Walton in the Blackburn goal or woefully squandered – to turn the final throes of this most irregular of regular seasons into a coronacoaster.
Brentford’s lunchtime victory at Derby combined with an inability to add to the recalled Filip Krovinovic’s first-half volley has left West Brom just three points ahead of the London club, instead of five, with three fixtures apiece remaining.
Joe Rothwell celebrates scoring the equalising goal in Blackburn’s 1-1 draw with West Brom
Failure to double their lead proved costly when Joe Rothwell emerged from the bench to thrash in his first league goal of the season with his first touch.
The equaliser altered the dynamic of the closing stages, a period in which Kyle Bartley shepherded the ball off the goalline to prevent Lewis Holtby’s back-flick providing a complete turnaround.
Bilic and Blackburn captain Darragh Lenihan were involved in a touchline tussle, for which they were both cautioned by Australian referee Jarred Gillett.
Filip Krovinovic celebrates after netting the opening goal after 41 minutes at Ewood Park
Krovinovic volleys low under Christian Walton from Charlie Austin’s pinpoint cross
BLACKBURN: Walton, Nyambe (Bennett 61), Lenihan, Adarabioyo, Rankin-Costello, Travis, Downing (Davenport 75), Johnson (Gallagher 61), Samuel (Rothwell 61), Graham, Armstrong (Holtby 60)
Subs not used: Leutwiler, Mulgrew, Buckley, Carter
Bookings: Lenihan, Travis
Goals: Rothwell (63)
WEST BROM: Johnstone, O’Shea, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend, Livermore (Harper 69), Sawyers, Pereira, Krovinovic (Robinson 80), Grosicki (Diangana 60), Austin, Robson-Kanu 60)
Subs not used: Furlong, Phillips, Brunt, Bond, Hegazi
Bookings: Ajayi, Livermore
Goals: Krovinovic (41)
‘It got a bit tetchy but that’s pressure for you. They will be able to relax in 10 days if they get over the line,’ said Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray.
‘They have some very talented players, they have to keep their nerve and keep going. I’ve got my fingers crossed for them, it’s a great club and they deserve to be in the Premier League.’
Mowbray was in the unusual situation of being used to this fixture being played out in front of onlookers wearing masks.
His last game as West Brom boss was here 11 years ago when the away end housed a couple of thousand Mowbrays – the tribute stemming from him taking he club to the top flight 12 months earlier.
West Brom, driven forward regularly by their wide players Kamil Grosicki and Matheus Pereira, went ahead six minutes before the break when Krovinovic emerged undetected and under suspicion of being offside to volley in Charlie Austin’s cross.
The Croatian should have made it 2-0 four minutes into the re-start but struck the inside of the post after Pereira’s initial effort was palmed out by Walton.
He was not alone in profligacy in advanced positions with Austin twice failing to open the scoring when well placed and Grady Diangana missing his kick immediately after Mowbray’s quadruple substitution led to a home equaliser.
‘Usually, you don’t create this number of great chances, and if you don’t score them there’s always the possibility it can be costly,’ said Bilic, whose side face another promotion rival Fulham on Tuesday evening.
Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Christian Walton made a string of fine saves in the first half
Blackburn forward Dominic Samuel races away from West Brom midfielder Romaine Sawyers
Rovers man Darragh Lenihan is booked after wrestling Baggies boss Slaven Bilic for the ball