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Blackburn edge towards safety with vital point against Southampton
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Simon Peach
Press Association
Adam Armstrong, centre, keeps hold of the ball (Richard Sellers/PA)
Adam Armstrong, centre, keeps hold of the ball (Richard Sellers/PA)

Blackburn edged closer to Championship survival as Southampton’s faint automatic promotion hopes took another blow as these sides returned from Easter Monday blockbusters with a goalless draw.

John Eustace celebrated his first official win as Rovers boss in style with a 5-1 triumph at Sunderland at the start of a week that saw Saints stunned in a 3-2 stoppage-time defeat at fellow high-flyers Ipswich.

But there was no such drama as the teams met at a blustery Ewood Park on Saturday afternoon, with Rovers further easing their relegation fears in a 0-0 draw against fourth-placed Saints.

Russell Martin’s men dominated first-half possession but failed to create clear-cut chances, with Joe Aribo’s header off the crossbar the closest they came.

Rovers star Sammie Szmodics nearly saw an audacious effort from distance come off and the hosts continued to pose problems after half-time as Eustace searched for his first home win.

Both teams had chances to win it but a flat-looking Saints came closest, with Kyle Walker-Peters seeing a late shot cleared by Callum Brittain.

The first league meeting between these sides at Ewood Park in 19 years began with Sam Gallagher having an early chance against his former club.

That was swiftly followed by Adam Armstrong – one of three former Rovers players in the Saints line-up – striking wide a good chance from a driven David Brooks cross.

But things tailed off after that lively start, with a drab encounter briefly coming to life in the 25th minute when Aribo saw a header from Jack Stephens’ cross hit the crossbar.

The ball hit goalkeeper Aynsley Pears as it came off the woodwork and, after Rovers’ Ryan Hedges went off with a hamstring injury, the hosts went close through the Championship’s top scorer.

Jan Bednarek was breathing a sigh of relief after Szmodics picked up his loose pass and tried an audacious clipped effort from 30 yards that landed on the roof of the net.

Saints captain Stephens headed over as play limped towards half-time in Lancashire, where play resumed with Ryan Fraser striking wide in front of the 2,499 away fans.

Tyrhys Dolan saw a low shot saved by Gavin Bazunu at the end of some slick Blackburn build-up, with Saints’ backline having to make some important interventions after that.

The Ewood Park faithful were beginning to increase the volume so Martin turned to his bench, with freshly-introduced Che Adams curling just wide soon after coming on.

Blackburn kept knocking at the door and Taylor Harwood-Bellis threw himself in front of a Szmodics strike.

At the other end Walker-Peters wriggled free in the box only for a block by Brittain – sent off in the reverse fixture – to deny Saints in the 80th minute.

Joe Rankin-Costello was then stopped by Bazunu as the match ended scoreless.


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