West Ham and Blackburn share the spoils at Ewood Park
The snow-damaged Premier League fixture list was left with just one 3pm encounter on Saturday and Blackburn and West Ham shared the spoils at a wintry Ewood Park.
A dull opening half provided little cheer for the cluster of supporters who had braved the freezing conditions. Blackburn, under the stewardship of caretaker manager Steve Kean following Sam Allardyce’s dismissal last week, lacked impetus up front. The home side was hampered by the early withdrawal of Jason Roberts with a hamstring injury and only causally pressed Avram Grant’s visitors.
Belgian goalkeeper Ruud Boffin made his West Ham and Premier League debut at a frosty Ewood Park but the inexperienced 23-year-old remained largely untested. The mercurial left-foot of Morten Gamst Pedersen did force him into a comfortable save from a Rover’s free kick moments before the interval.
The match sprung into life after 60 minutes when Blackburn captain Ryan Nelson edged his side in front. Pedersen’s corner led to disarray amongst the away defence as West Ham were punished for failing to clear the loose ball before the New Zealand international prodded the ball past Boffin.
It was harsh retribution for a positive start to the second half by West Ham. Defying their league position, Grant’s side looked dangerous in attack and had several chances to level matters with Matthew Upson grazing the post with an innovative shot while Frederic Piquionne blazed a free header high over Paul Robinson’s crossbar.
Grant’s afternoon was rescued when substitute Junior Stanislas stylishly dispatched a curling effort past Robinson. Moments before, Grant had taken off Mexican midfielder Pablo Barrera and introduced the sprightly Stanislas. And it immediately paid dividends.
The Israeli manager was not content with a sole point and wheeled out Benny McCarthy in search of a winner. However, in the closing moments it was the home side who were exerting the pressure. Pedersen sent a ferocious left-footed set piece inches wide with Boffin at full stretch.
For Blackburn’s ambitious Indian owners an ambitious sixth-place finish remains a distant vision while Grant is left still searching for those three points needed to make his job secure, according David Gold and David Sullivan.