Ince feels heat as Rovers freeze again

PAUL INCE has remained steadfast in backing his Blackburn side during their recent struggles, but yesterday the Guv’nor’s patience finally snapped.

The Rovers manager kept his players in the dressing room for nearly an hour after a frenetic defeat at Portsmouth before emerging to admit that he was “frustrated and disappointed”.

The former England midfielder, in his first Premier League managerial job, saw Rovers crash to their sixth defeat in nine league games after fighting back from 2-0 down to level, only to concede a late winner to Sean Davis.

But Ince, who felt referee Mark Halsey made a “poor decision” when ruling a foul on Pompey goalkeeper David James as Matt Derbyshire netted with the score tied at 2-2 14 minutes from the end, insisted he could inspire a revival.

“There’s nothing wrong with the spirit,” he said. “Ask the players: I don’t have to speak for them.

“And I’m not feeling any pressure. When you have four kids and live on your own with mouths to feed that is pressure – but you’ve got to enjoy being a Premier League manager.”

But Ince, whose side are one from bottom in the table, certainly did not enjoy Blackburn’s surrender in defence.

Papa Bouba Diop glided past three static defenders to hit a powerful shot which keeper Paul Robinson could only push out for substitute Davis to coolly grab the winner 11 minutes from time, and just two minutes after replacing Armand Traore.

Ince added: “We were by far the better side in the first half but we missed three good chances. Peter Crouch missed one for them with a header just before half-time but we didn’t learn from that and let him have the same space to score their first goal.

“If you are asking about spirit I think we showed plenty of that coming back from 2-0 down.

“Matt Derbyshire got a brave header when he came on and after Tugay got the equaliser it looked like only one team was going to win it. We are playing well but not getting results and I’m tired of saying that week after week.

“Again we forgot you have to keep the door shut at the back – and not only at the back but the whole team defensively. To see Diop ghosting past three of my players like that (to set up the winner) was, well, ridiculous.”

Portsmouth manager Tony Adams, whose team moved back up to eighth place, celebrated his first home victory as manager but admitted there was ample room for improvement.

He had seen his side give away a two-goal lead against Milan in midweek in the UEFA Cup and spurn earlier advantages – and lost points – against Hull and Fulham.

He said: “We’re going through a little phase of surrendering things. This time we knocked off from a throw-in.

“But at least we had the spirit to come back and win it – and on this occasion, a bit more time. I’m delighted with them again. It’s a relief to get the win.”

PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): James 6, Johnson 8, Distin 6, Pamarot 6, Belhadj 6, Little 4 (Kranjcar 46, 6), Diop 6, Hughes 6, A Traore 6 (Davis 76, 7), Crouch 7 (Kanu 69, 5), Defoe 6.

Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Hreidarsson, Mvuemba, Nugent.

BLACKBURN (4-4-2): Robinson 7, Ooijer 6, Samba 6, Nelsen 6, Warnock 6, Emerton 7, Andrews 6, Tugay 7, Pedersen 6 (Villanueva 5, 87), Santa Cruz 6, McCarthy 6 (Derbyshire 61, 7).

Subs Not Used: Brown, Mokoena, Simpson, Fowler, Roberts.

REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire) 6: The game flowed well and there were few moments of controversy.

MATCH RATING: *** Bright and breathless until the final whistle, with Pompey just about deserving winners.

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