Tony Mowbray gave Stoke City a back-handed compliment when he said they made things awkward for his Blackburn Rovers side… and is instead already looking forward to ‘a good football match’ against Swansea this weekend.
Mowbray’s team couldn’t find a way through a defensively-disciplined Stoke outfit, with most shots at Jack Butland coming from distance.
They drew a blank for only the second time since Christmas and now sit four points outside the Championship play-off places.
“Ultimately we’re left frustrated,” said Mowbray. “I think they came with a pretty, decent defensive set-up.
“Michael (O’Neill) has obviously managed his country against some top, top teams and knows how to set up a team to defend. They played deep to nullify our speed in behind, they narrowed their midfield to stop our number 10s on the ball and it was difficult to get through them.
“It was an awkward night. Did we do enough to nick it 1-0? It would have been nice to come away with a goal from a set play or a ricochet, we’d have taken 1-0, but Stoke have some experienced players and an experienced manager and we’re left a bit frustrated.”
Stoke are just a point above the relegation zone with 11 games remaining, despite a transformation in form since O’Neill was appointed in November.
Mowbray said: “They’re fighting for their lives, every point is a prisoner, so to come to Ewood where we’ve had a decent record for a few years they are probably happy with that and then try to win their home games. They did their job.
“Ultimately we’re left frustrated. We knocked on the door a few times, I don’t know how many shots we had, but we found it hard to get through as we normally do.
“Let’s not be too disappointed, we have another opportunity on Saturday against a different team who will come and play on the front foot, because they are a team with a definitive way of playing and a philosophy and a way of playing that goes back a number of years.
“That will be a good football match on Saturday.”