Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Edging into Safety Zone

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Edging into Safety Zone

Article excerpt

Byline: Alistair Grant

Blackburn boss still cautious after 4-3 victory

Graeme Souness gave no guarantees over Blackburn's survival chances after his nervy side edged last night's seven-goal thriller at Fulham.

Rovers halted their freefall towards relegation with a rollercoaster 4-3 victory at Loftus Road.

The Lancastrians, who had just suffered three straight defeats, twice threw away the lead before learning their lesson and holding on after Jon Stead's 74th-minute strike gave them the edge.

Souness' men followed Portsmouth's lead by clambering three points clear of Leeds, who occupy the final relegation berth and play Everton at home tonight.

But the Blackburn manager admits he does not know if the three points will be the catalyst for a survival push.

"It was a big win for us, a cracking game of football," said Souness. "We'll see how important it was at the end of the season.

"We're a team which is nervous about the predicament we find ourselves in. I don't know if it will ease our nerves, but I hope it gives us the confidence to get into the safety zone.

"We started this season full of optimism about doing well - but it hasn't happened.

"We need to flop over the finishing zone and into the safety zone."

Blackburn were 1-0 and then 3-2 up, but suffered an attack of the jitters both times as Chris Coleman's side fought back. Rovers finally held their nerve after Stead's late winner - the second goal for which Edwin van der Sar was at fault - although the avalanche of goals came after controversy in the 12th minute.

Stead fell to the ground clutching his face and Blackburn claim he was headbutted by Zat Knight, who escaped unpunished.

"We feel Zat Knight should have been sent off," said Souness.

"The crowd went quiet after the incident, so I think the only four people in the ground who didn't see what happened were the four officials."

Fulham boss Chris Coleman is now sweating on a possible Football Association charge should Soho Square decide to scrutinise video footage of the incident. …

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