Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Peterborough United Six Things: Dack double does it

Bradley Dack –

A Bradley Dack brace moved Blackburn Rovers a step closer to automatic promotion with a 3-1 win over Peterborough United. Here’s six things from the game.

Posh’s enterprising first half

The visitors acquitted themselves well in the first half. After a shaky start, 18-year-old Leo Da Silva Lopes grew in confidence in an unnatural right wing-back role, while Anthony Grant and Michael Doughty kept Dack quiet. Blackburn’s wide forwards, Adam Armstrong and Marcus Antonsson, were so keen to press high up that full-backs Elliott Bennett and Derrick Williams weren’t protected as well as they could have been. Peterborough exploited those issues to create some good chances.

Key chances

Gwion Edwards’ went on a driving run from left wing-back to force a save from David Raya and forward Danny Lloyd wriggled from the right channel into the box on occasions, even if his finishing let him down. George Cooper though was excellent from set pieces: his free-kick was tipped over by Raya shortly before half-time, only for Steve Evans’ side to strike from the resultant corner. Cooper’s whipped near-post delivery proved awkward for Charlie Mulgrew, who in trying to turn the ball behind, succeeded only in flicking it into his own net.

The wounded beast

Tony Mowbray needed a reaction from his players after the break and he got one, as Richie Smallwood took charge of the midfield, Bennett charged on from right-back and the tempo increased. Once Williams crossed towards the six-yard box on 54 minutes, Steven Taylor slipped to allow Dack to head home, helped by feeble goalkeeping from Connor O’Malley.

Evans too defensive?

Pundit Grant McCann said after the match that Peterborough tried to manage the game too early – perhaps an implicit criticism of his successor, Evans. Posh play at their best – as we saw in the first half – when they play on the front foot, rather than when the midfield drops deeper. As good as 26-goal top scorer Jack Marriott is, his many strengths don’t extend to winning aerial duels and holding the ball up; yet that was what he was asked to do in the second half. There are clearly diluted visions in this Peterborough squad; Evans wants direct football but that doesn’t necessarily suit the players available and thus it invited pressure.

Blackburn’s fitness

Mogga’s men might have been lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch when Corry Evans was only booked for a dangerous challenge on Doughty, but the finale showed the spirit that has taken them to the top two. When Richie Smallwood’s delivery to the back-post was nodded across by Williams and headed onto the bar by Dack, Andrew Hughes switched off to allow Graham to turn home the rebound. The ex-Swansea striker wasn’t finished there: he had the tenacity in injury time to steal the ball off Jack Baldwin, before teeing up Dack for a third.

Champagne on ice?

Victory for Rovers puts them eight points clear of third-place. Although that gap will be cut to five points on Saturday if Shrewsbury beat Bury as expected, results elsewhere will not matter if Blackburn can amass five points from their remaining three games. Steve Evans meanwhile, has a proven record of getting his sides into a similar position, but might need a full summer to build a squad that complies with his promotion blueprint.