Michael Appleton was denied his first win as Blackburn Rovers manager as Brighton stole a point at the death on Tuesday.
Blackburn controlled the game from start to finish and looked good value for their lead after Jordan Rhodes converted from the spot, but David Goodwillie’s late clumsy challenge on David Lopez gifted the Spaniard the chance to level the scores from the spot and the Brighton midfielder made no mistake dispatching the penalty with the last kick of the game.
Despite the late sucker punch, Rovers can take heart from their performance. The home side constantly posed a threat going forward with Jason Lowe and Gamst Pedersen going close to opening the scoring early on.
Jordan Rhodes then gave Blackburn the lead they deserved from the spot, scoring his fifth goal in as many games. After the interval the Scotsman came close to doubling Blackburn’s lead with a looping header but was denied by a fantastic Tomasz Kuszczak save.
And the Brighton keeper was at it again moments later, this time denying former Brighton striker Colin Kazim-Richards with an audacious long range effort. But Rovers went on to rue their missed chances, deep into injury time David Goodwillie conceded a needless penalty which David Lopez calmly converted silencing Ewood Park.
Appleton finds his side nine points adrift of the playoffs and with 18 games to go Blackburn’s chances of promotion look bleak. The former Portsmouth and Blackpool gaffer has inherited a sound squad and there is no denying that the players, simply put, have not been good enough this season. Therefore it is imperative he acts quickly and efficiently as the January Transfer Window enters its final week.
At least three new faces are needed at Ewood; a natural winger, a box to box midfielder and a versatile defender would stand Rovers in good stead for the remainder of the season, but there is no certainty Blackburn will make the playoffs and with many fans already writing this season off, they would not begrudge Appleton planning for next season.