Jon Dahl Thomasson’s reign as Blackburn Rovers boss got off to a flying start with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Ewood Park.
Rovers fielded a young squad in their opening game of the campaign with only one player over the age of 30 in the entire starting 11. The Blues started out in the expected 4-2-3-1 formation with new right-back Callum Brittain being placed straight into the team and Academy graduate Jack Vale making his first senior start for Rovers playing as a lone striker.
The first 30 minutes were underwhelming for Rovers. QPR were showing that bit more fight and looked a little bit quicker than Rovers in the middle of the park for that period. Rovers kept giving the final ball away and didn’t look like much of a threat. Chances were limited for both sides during this period, with QPR coming closest to opening the scoring in the 18th minute when Osman Kakay’s shot hit the crossbar.
However, despite both sides not showing much attacking promise in the opening half hour, Rovers did manage to open the scoring in the 34th minute after a corner was cleared out to the new club captain Lewis Travis, who curled an absolute peach of a shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.
The goal woke Rovers up, they were more confident passing the ball around and started looking like an attacking threat with Ben Brereton Diaz nearly making it two just a few minutes later after a powerful strike was tipped over by Seny Dieng. Rovers went into half time with the lead.
An early scare was given to Rovers in the second half after goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski’s misplaced pass went straight to Ilias Chair who to the delight of Kaminski, only managed to hit the side-netting from close range. Despite the early scare, Rovers were by far the better side in the second period, we were dominant in the middle of the park and didn’t give QPR a chance to get into the game at all.
Despite Rovers being dominant, chances were still limited for both sides, with Tyrhys Dolan being Blackburn’s only change of the game coming on for Jack Vale who didn’t show too much overall in the game but had limited support from the flanks. Dolan brought that extra flair up front and QPR’s tall defenders couldn’t deal with his quick feet at times bringing a bit of needed attacking energy into the game. Rovers nearly had the perfect end when Brereton Diaz was offside after he found the net in the 90th minute.
A good start for Thomasson at Ewood park; the football was more energetic, the passing was quicker, and we were defensively solid throughout the entire game. I was happy that we didn’t sit back in the second half and play for the 1-0 win, we applied the pressure up front and didn’t let QPR play it out from the back. From watching the first game it looks like Thomasson has Rovers playing in a more energetic and attacking way, it will take time to adapt to his style of playing however, Rovers did hold their own and put on a decent opening performance of the campaign.
My Man of the Match: John Buckley was outstanding, he was the real heart of that central midfield today, he didn’t give the ball away, his passing was great, and he produced some great technical ability throughout the entire 90 minutes. He definitely was a standout player in the team today.