Blackburn Rovers 3 // Wolves 0
Blackburn Dunn 29’, Emerton 43’, Nelsen 55’
Man of the match Paul Robinson (Blackburn)
BLACKBURN // A week, the former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously observed, is a long time in politics. In football, 168 hours is a similarly protracted period, but Blackburn Rovers can testify to the difference it makes.
Humiliated by last Saturday's 7-1 thrashing by Manchester United at Old Trafford, Rovers' response yesterday was to record their biggest win of the season. Eighth place is their reward for a swift turnaround in fortunes while last position is Wolverhampton Wanderers' punishment for their inability to defend set-pieces.
"We are climbing to heights other people probably don't expect of us," said Sam Allardyce which, in the wake of their previous result, was a fair assessment.
But a trademark triumph for Rovers provided an explanation of their visitors' plight. For Allardyce, ever astute at exploiting opponents' weaknesses, thorough planning brought a prize.
"We knew Wolves had conceded 10 goals from set-pieces," he said. Make that 12 after David Dunn and Ryan Nelsen added to the dead-ball disappointment for Wolves coach Mick McCarthy, sandwiching a classy strike from Brett Emerton.
"We defended badly," said a candid McCarthy. "Bearing in mind we haven't had a clean sheet all season, it's not such a surprise. We shouldn't have conceded the goals we did."
The first came when Nelsen met Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner to set up Dunn. The midfielder's header crossed the line before Kevin Doyle could hack it back out again.
Then, when Michel Salgado lofted the ball forwards, it created a contest of two men with the build of boxers, Jason Roberts and Steven Mouyokolo.
Roberts, the Blackburn forward, provided the display of upper-body strength, holding off the Wolves defender before finding the on-rushing Emerton. His finish was both assured and unstoppable. "Stunning," said Allardyce.
A third goal was, from Wolves' perspective, possibly the worst to concede. Pedersen's free kick found Stephen Ward on the wrong side of Nelsen and making an inadequate attempt to halt him when the New Zealander volleyed in.
"We were clinical and professional today," Allardyce said. "The players were all hurting and they have been hurting all week. But you can't be any more satisfied than coming back from a 7-1 defeat to win 3-0."
What he termed "a maximum performance in all areas" was reflected by the efforts of the spine of his side; a forceful Roberts in attack, a creative Pedersen in midfield, a resilient Nelsen in defence.
Perhaps most significant, however, was a goalkeeper in glorious form. Paul Robinson ensured there was no comeback with outstanding saves from George Elokobi and Stephen Hunt.
Early and late chances should not camouflage the visitors' impotence in between. But, as Allardyce accepted, his side could have been trailing. When Ward's drilled effort was touched on to the woodwork by Robinson, Ronald Zubar soon hit the bar and the opposite post with his effort.
With 10 defeats in 13 league games and the worst away record in the country, Wolves prop up the Premier League.
But, as Blackburn proved, hitting rock bottom can simply be the prelude to a reaction.