Tony Mowbray has hailed Blackburn’s reaction to their 7-0 thumping by Fulham earlier this month after a 1-0 win over Stoke at the bet365 Stadium moved Rovers up to fourth in the Sky Bet Championship.
Reda Khadra scored the winning goal with an excellent finish which was drilled into the bottom left corner past a diving Adam Davies.
It’s a defeat that means Stoke slipped out of the play-off spots.
Mowbray said: “At half-time, I was unhappy with where we put the ball. We were playing with the wind in the second half and what we said was to shoot with the wind. If you get a yard, whack it and shoot low.
“Reda is a great kid and I feel as though he’s still learning about the mentality to play for this team and yet he still has amazing attributes that we have to give him the opportunity to play.
“With that pace, the rocket of a right-foot – he did a job for us today and we’re delighted he did.
“With total respect to Romaine Sawyers and Mario Vrancic, they’re wonderful footballers but they’re not as mobile as Joe Rothwell and we needed him out there today. He showed moments where he can run away from people.
“In the Championship it’s very hard to win games and I’ve talked long and hard about the mentality of this group of players and how wonderful they are. It’s good to see a lot of young lads in the dressing room happy and bouncing tonight and proud of each other.”
Mowbray also addressed how his team have bounced back from the 7-0 thrashing they received at the hands of Fulham with his side unbeaten in four games since.
“I was brought up on a council estate in a steel town and when somebody punches you in the face, you have to fight back,” Mowbray said.
“I expect my team to react after defeats and I know that was a heavy defeat. We were short on centre-halves then and we put it behind us very quickly. I haven’t done anything, they’ve reacted because they’re good human beings and good guys.”
Michael O’Neill expressed his anger towards the officials and decisions made by the referee after they suffered their second loss in a row.
“I think we played quite well in the first half in difficult conditions. We tried to build the game and it was difficult for the players,” O’Neill said.
“Ultimately, the game was decided by one moment and it was always going to be that kind of game I felt. And unfortunately, Blackburn had that moment.
“If you look at the goal really, Mario puts in a strike that’s on target and it takes two deflections and the referee, in his wisdom, decides to award a goal-kick.
“The ball was kicked forward, we have to defend that and I think Romaine picks it up and plays it to Ben (Wilmot) and his clearance was closed down and the next thing is the ball is in your net.
“It was a good finish from the lad (Khadra) but ultimately we should have been asking Blackburn to defend a corner as opposed to us having to defend a goal-kick and that’s what leads to the goal.
“It’s disappointing from that aspect and it’s a poor decision from the referee. One of many.