Kean praises ‘excellent’ fans but laments missed chances

STEVE KEAN praised the Blackburn fans for getting behind their team at Ewood Park yesterday and felt they should have been rewarded with at least a point against Stoke.

Rovers were playing at home for the first time since the defeat by Bolton saw the abuse of Kean reach a peak but the supporters gave the Scot a break following Saturday’s superb win against Manchester United.

The hosts began well but in the first half, Peter Crouch netted his 100th and 101st goals in league football to put Stoke two up and David Goodwillie’s first Barclays Premier League goal turned out to be just a consolation in a 2-1 loss.

“I thought the fans were excellent today and I’m delighted because it’s a young team that we’ve got, and if they can get that feel-good factor and confidence to get on the ball [then results can improve],” said Kean.

Things may have turned out differently yesterday had Christopher Samba scored early on. First the big defender headed against the bar and then from a second corner he planted the ball in the net only to see a free-kick awarded for a foul on Thomas Sorensen.

Stoke took advantage of those let-offs in the 17th minute when Dean Whitehead picked out Crouch and he benefited from a slip by Samba to chest the ball down and fire home.

Rovers went back on the attack but were hit with a sucker punch just before the break as Matthew Etherington ran virtually from his own penalty area before crossing for Crouch to convert in a similar manner to his first.

The second-half was a story of frustration for Rovers until a Morten Gamst Pedersen set-piece finally bore fruit, Grant Hanley heading a 69th-minute corner towards goal where Goodwillie eventually turned it in. And the hosts should have had a point but Ayegbeni Yakubu saw his shot from virtually on the goal-line blocked by Jonathan Woodgate.

“The second goal was a bit of a killer because I felt we were pushing for the equaliser and we’ve not really dealt well at all with the counter-attack and the ball’s come in too easy.

“We know that Peter Crouch, if he can get that type of service, then it’s going to be tough.

“Having said that, we tried to get the line a bit higher in the second half and I felt we really dictated it. I expected when we got the first to go on and get another and maybe even nick it at the end.”

Kean disputed referee Lee Mason’s decision to chalk off Samba’s early header, saying: “At first I thought maybe that’s the referee thinking Chris has got hold of his marker but he’s actually said he gave it against Yakubu. I’ve seen it again and he’s just standing minding his own business.”

Stoke boss Tony Pulis was one of a number of managers to criticise the Blackburn fans for their treatment of Kean, but he was impressed by the atmosphere at Ewood Park.

“I thought the Blackburn supporters were brilliant today. They stuck with their team all the way through, and they need to do that,” said Pulis.

Blackburn (4-5-1): M Bunn 6.5; G Hanley 7, C Samba 6.5, A Henley 6.5, J Lowe 6.5;, M Formica 6, R Petrovic 5.5, David Dunn 6, S N’Zonzi 6.5, MG Pedersen 6; Yakubu 6.5.

Subs: D Goodwillie 6.5 for Petrovic (59), G Givet 6 for Henley (71), R Rochina for D Dunn (73).

Stoke City (4-4-2): T Sørensen 6.5; R Shawcross 6, R Huth 6.5, J Woodgate 6.5, R Shotton 7; M Wilson 6.5, D Whitehead 6.5, G Whelan 6.5, M Etherington 7; J Walters 7, P Crouch 7.

Subs: C Jerome for M Etherington (81), R Delap for Whelan (83), S Diao for Whitehead (87).

Referee: L Mason.

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