Wolves 1-1 Blackburn

Dean Saunders
Dean Saunders

Roger Johnson rescued a draw for Wolves in their first match under new manager Dean Saunders, denying Blackburn a fourth straight win.

Rovers confirmed Michael Appleton as their new boss before kick-off and Jordan Rhodes's penalty put them ahead.

Wolves' Bakary Sako almost levelled direct from a corner but was denied by Danny Murphy's goal-line clearance.

But centre-back Johnson was on hand to nod in Jamie O'Hara's long pass and ensure the points were shared.

The draw means both sides rise one place in the Championship table - Wolves to 17th and Blackburn to 12th.

Appleton, who was confirmed as Henning Berg's successor two hours prior to kick off, will inherit a Rovers team full of confidence, having won three and drawn one of their four matches under caretaker boss Gary Bowyer.

Saunders, meanwhile, can take satisfaction from ending a run of four straight Wolves defeats and watching a much-improved showing from a side embarrassed by non-league Luton in the FA Cup six days previously.

The former Wales striker arrived to an excellent welcome from the home supporters.

His players seemed to relish the occasion to impress the new man too, making the brighter start and going close three times in a frenetic two-minute spell early in the game.

Kevin Foley headed wide from a Stephen Ward cross, Jake Cassidy's effort from 12 yards was blocked and Johnson went close with an acrobatic volley.

Seconds after Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme had prevented Scotland international Rhodes from netting when through one-on-one, Blackburn's Jake Kean pulled off the save of the match, plunging to his left to deny Foley's hooked attempt from close-range.

Then, against the run of play, Blackburn went ahead. A free-kick on the right touchline was taken short to Ruben Rochina, who danced past winger Sako and went down under minimal contact inside the box.

A penalty was awarded, initially by the assistant referee, and Rhodes kept his cool to fire Rovers in front from the spot for his 14th goal since joining Blackburn at the end of August.

It sparked the visitors into life and Rochina, now being booed after every touch, tested Ikeme with a two shots from distance either side of the interval.

At the other end, Sako's set-pieces continued to be a constant threat. Murphy was required to head a corner off his own line, while Johnson again headed off target moments later.

But Wolves and Johnson would not be denied for much longer.

Substitute O'Hara made an instant impact, his centre from deep headed home at the far post by the former Birmingham defender to level proceedings.

The contest became more and more feisty as it wore on, with players from both sides becoming involved in an increasing number of petty incidents and collecting a series of yellow cards.

Wolves, buoyed by their equaliser, looked the more likely to snatch a winner at the death, but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in the final 15 minutes and the 100th meeting between two of the most famous names in English football would end in a draw.

Wolves manager Dean Saunders: "I couldn't have asked for any more. I thought we would have had a bit more pressure on us tonight, but we played really well.

"The young linesman couldn't wait to give the penalty, it's not a penalty. The lad's kicked [Bakary] Sako's legs - I have to say it was an irresponsible challenge from Sako, putting his leg in, but he's a winger.

"But what a ball from Jamie O'Hara [for the equaliser], it was a centre-half's dream, Roger Johnson picked the flight up and it's a great header. Sometimes you get the substitutions right and sometimes you get them wrong."

Blackburn Rovers caretaker manager Gary Bowyer: "I thought it was a very hard-working point. With Dean [Saunders] coming in, we knew it would be a battle and that they would be up for it from minute one.

"That showed in the first 10 minutes, where they put us under a lot of pressure, but we coped admirably. We got the penalty, which was a penalty, and Jordan Rhodes was magnificent.

"The referee took ages before he was allowed to take it, but he slotted it away nicely. We just got done by one long pump into the box, but I can't fault the players. They've been magnificent for us for the four games and they need to now kick on."

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