x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Paper weight off Rovers

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce is confident that the late victory over Fulham can go a long way to exorcising the spectre of relegation from Ewood Park.

Jason Roberts, right, celebrates his late winner against Fulham.
Jason Roberts, right, celebrates his late winner against Fulham.

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce is confident that the late victory over Fulham can go a long way to exorcising the spectre of relegation from Ewood Park. Allardyce concedes that despite his best efforts to focus his players' attention away from any negative press, being in the bottom three burdens players with added concerns. But having gone to Craven Cottage in 18th, they returned to home three places higher and with a morale-boosting second-half display to further bolster their spirits. Such a conclusion looked unlikely when makeshift striker Clint Dempsey made light of some generous defending to put Fulham one up inside 90 seconds. But driven on by the impeccable Stephen Warnock, Rovers conjured an equaliser from El-Hadji Diouf - despite concerns over offside - and an 85th-minute winner courtesy of Jason Roberts.

Allardyce said: "We've got the win and it's a huge relief from a mental point of view. Continuing to see yourselves in the bottom three doesn't help, even though you tell them 'you can't look at the papers, stay away from them'. "It's impossible not to see it, not to see where you are, it's in your face all the time. People are talking about relegation all the time when you're in that position. "So we're relieved to be out of that position for a bit. Relegation is not something we're out of but victory today has made life much easier to get out of it. Now they can look at the papers if they want to."

The Fulham manager Roy Hodgson accepted defeat against his former employers gracefully, citing the extra workload created by his side's FA Cup run as a reason for their second-half struggles. "I've got to say I thought Blackburn played with a lot of energy. We were struggling to match that energy," said Hodgson. "I can't say they didn't deserve to win the game, I can't say that we did enough to win it."

Meanwhile, the West Brom defender Paul Robinson has hit out at his teammates and claimed some of them should show more "pride and passion". Albion are six points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Premier League. Robinson said: "The supporters deserve more and as players we deserve more out of each other. I would like to see a bit more passion and commitment. I think we have lacked that. I am not afraid to say it. It shouldn't bother me to say it.

"We shouldn't be in this position and we know we shouldn't. You can only say what you can. "They can either take it to help them or they can take it as a criticism, but at the end of the day you are only trying to help your team-mates. "If they take it in the wrong way then that's their problem." * PA Sport