Blackburn 2-0 Bury Six Things: Rovers go top

Blackburn 2-0 Bury –

With Shrewsbury not in action until Tuesday, Blackburn Rovers took their opportunity to temporarily go top of League One on Monday night. They secured a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Bury thanks to goals from Danny Graham and Adam Armstrong – here’s six things from the game.

Rovers need variation

Blackburn, heavily fancied for promotion with most bookmakers that offer, made heavy weather of things in the first half.  With three centre-backs – Darragh Lenihan, Charlie Mulgrew, Derrick Williams – and two holding midfielders – Richie Smallwood and Corry Evans – they were well-equipped without the ball but lacked variation with it. Adam Armstrong needed to do more to stretch play and create space in advanced areas for Bradley Dack, who was at times forced to pick the ball up from deep positions.

Solid Bury

Blackburn’s first half frustrations was also a reflection Bury’s impressive organization. While key blocks from Peter Clarke and commanding goalkeeping from his former Oldham teammate Connor Ripley helped the Shakers, their defensive work started from the front. Harry Bunn and George Miller worked tirelessly to deny Blackburn’s centre-backs time on the ball, giving midfielders Josh Laurent and Neil Danns strong protection.

The turning point

Whether the game would be remembered as a fine defensive display from Bury, or a controlled performance from their hosts, was defined in the first five minutes of the second half. Ryan Lowe’s side capitalized on sloppy Rovers passes to create two openings in the first two minutes: alas Laurent’s shot was well-blocked by Mulgrew, before Bunn made the wrong decision to shoot on the break with options either side of him. Their profligacy would be punished moments later, when Cameron lost his concentration to allow Graham to nod home Dack’s delivery.

Blackburn’s final flourish

It comes naturally to Blackburn to get the ball forward early and they found it easier to do so after the first goal. The changes helped: Tony Mowbray shifted to a back four and brought on Marcus Antonsson and Jack Payne, the latter injecting energy and movement which perhaps took pressure off Dack. Darragh Lenihan, an ambitious passer all evening, crossed to the back post and though Antonsson couldn’t convert, an error from the hapless Cameron allowed Armstrong to tap home. Only a good save from Ripley denied Payne a goal and the hosts, a third in a comfortable second period.

Bury’s gap

Given the depths Bury have plunged before Ryan Lowe took over, it would be entirely unfair to place any blame on him for this defeat after an improved run of results. However, the result means that should their relegation rivals continue at the same rate, the Shakers now need around two points per game between now and May to stay up. The support for Lowe is there, but belief that his side can pull off the miracle is not quite so apparent.

Blackburn and Dack lead the pack

Wigan, on the same night, dominated the headlines with their incredible FA Cup win over giants Manchester City, but Blackburn’s more bread-and-butter victory was important too. They endured a frustrating first half this evening but their strength in depth and final third quality ultimately saw them to come out on top; a position they hope to become familiar with from here on in.