Wayne Rooney is looking forward to an "exciting project" after he was named head coach of Plymouth Argyle.

Plymouth narrowly avoided relegation from last season's Championship, finishing just a point and a place above 22nd-placed Birmingham City.

Incidentally, Rooney managed Birmingham during the campaign, though he lasted less than three months before being sacked.

Having replaced the fired John Eustace with the club sitting sixth in the Championship, Rooney was dismissed in January after winning just two of his 15 matches at the helm, with Birmingham ultimately going on to be relegated to League One.

Though his time at Birmingham was challenging to say the least, Rooney has high expectations for his new role, saying: "Taking this role at Plymouth Argyle feels like the perfect next step in my career.

"This is an opportunity to be part of an exciting project. I look forward to helping to build a squad of players to play expansive football.

“I have experienced first-hand how talented the existing group of players is here, and also the incredible atmosphere at Home Park. The club is on an exciting long-term journey, with a progressive plan in place. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. 

"I can't wait for the Championship season to start in August."

Daniel Farke admitted the killer instinct of Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics was lacking from his Leeds side after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat dealt a blow to their automatic promotion hopes.

Leeds dominated the Championship encounter at Elland Road but could not turn possession into goals.

Farke’s side remain third in the table when a win would have seen them seize the initiative from top two Leicester and Ipswich.

Farke said: “When you face a side like Blackburn with a player like Szmodics, he showed the quality which we didn’t show today and he needed just one chance to score.

“So many balls went through the box, but you also need to show the quality to put the ball in the net.

“If you don’t score you have so much more risk. There is also a danger there will be one moment for your opponent and they can score. It’s pretty disappointing and frustrating for us.

“We didn’t put the ball into the net. If you don’t score, you can’t win the game.”

Despite his players missing the chance to steal a march on their rivals, Farke refused to put the blame on them.

He said: “It’s up to me if we don’t score – to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances.

“It’s up to us in training to work on our efficiency and create more chances. Today we have created more than enough chances to score. I’m not the guy to point the finger at the players when we don’t score.

“If a team fights to survive and fights against relegation, if they try to annoy us with time wasting and whatever, it’s nothing that I can influence.”

Szmodics dealt the killer blow with a cool finish eight minutes from time as the visitors went route one.

Sam Gallagher headed on a long ball from Aynsley Pears before Tyrhys Dolan turned and fed Szmodics and he did the rest with a composed finish past Illan Meslier.

The Leeds goalkeeper had saved from Szmodics with Blackburn’s only effort of the first period, while Pears had saved from Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts as the home side failed to make their dominance pay.

Blackburn head coach John Eustace was full of praise for his side.

He said: “I was very proud of the effort the boys have given me since I came in, it has been outstanding.

“To come here and play like we did was great. We had a game plan without the ball. I am delighted with the effort and very proud of them.”

Blackburn bounced back from a 5-0 defeat at Bristol City in midweek and that resilience was what pleased Eustace the most.

He added: “Wednesday was a bit of a blip. That certainly wasn’t a team that I have been a part of. We have been very difficult to beat.

“It’s very important that we keep working hard, sticking together. We have three games left and we still need points.”

Eustace praised Szmodics, adding: “Sammie, without his goals this season, we really would have been in trouble. The rest of the group have created those chances for him.

“Since I’ve been here he has been magnificent. To score 30 goals in the Championship is a fantastic effort.”

John Eustace admitted relegation-threatened Blackburn had let their travelling fans down by gifting Bristol City all five goals at Ashton Gate.

Tommy Conway capitalised on a bad error by Dominic Hyam to shoot City ahead in the 24th minute and doubled the advantage with a first-half penalty after the defender had brought down Mark Sykes.

Anis Mehmeti fired the third in the 73rd minute after another Hyam slip and two late Nahki Wells goals, the first another penalty, awarded for handball against Kyle McFadzean, completed mid-table City’s biggest Championship win of the season.

The result left Rovers just three points above the drop zone with four games left and head coach Eustace, who made four half-time substitutions, admitted: “I could have taken the whole team off.

“Tonight was so unlike how we have been recently. There wasn’t the fight we have been displaying and we gifted them all their goals.

“We have let our fans down. I said there would be highs and lows when I took the job and tonight is very much a low.

“I am very disappointed, but I know I have a good group of lads and we will go again against Leeds at Elland Road on Saturday.

“I expect a response from the players in that game and it’s important the supporters stay with us. We are all in this together and before tonight there have been a lot of positives.

“I don’t think the result will affect confidence. Individual errors have cost us, the first ones just as we seemed to be taking control of the game.

“All games are tough in the Championship and we will continue to take each one as it comes.”

City head coach Liam Manning was understandably buzzing.

“I’m delighted,” he said. “The togetherness and willingness to run, while staying focused and in control, was tremendous.

“Tactically, a lot clicked. We felt we could hurt them down the sides and that’s how it proved.

“The balls forward were good and our forward players were prepared to chase lost causes.

“Our front players need to be our first defenders. Two or three of Tommy Conway’s goals this season have come from being exactly that.

“The international break was hugely important for me in terms of working with the players on grass and we have seen the benefits in the matches since.

“Nahki Wells’ goals took him to 100 in Championship football, so it’s a proud night for him and his family.”

Ipswich climbed to the top of the Championship table after Conor Chaplin’s 13th goal of the season gave them a 1-0 win at Blackburn.

Buoyed by Leicester’s defeat in the early kick-off, Kieran McKenna’s men flew out of the traps and made their early dominance count through Chaplin’s well-worked goal, though Blackburn’s Aynsley Pears ought to have done better.

But this barely told the story of the game as the struggling hosts, still looking for their first win under John Eustace, were more than a match for their visitors and will feel aggrieved to have had goals in either half contentiously ruled out.

The league’s top-scorer Sammie Szmodics missed a glorious chance 11 minutes from time, but Ipswich dug in admirably to notch their eighth win in nine that sees them hold a one-point advantage over Leeds at the summit.

Ipswich should have had an early penalty when Callum Brittain tugged Nathan Broadhead back but referee Stuart Atwell waved play on.

They hit the front in the ninth minute when Chaplin sprayed the ball out wide for Leif Davis and ran into the box to meet the defender’s low cross before letting fly with a first-time shot that found the bottom corner, but Pears somehow let the ball squirm through him.

The Tractor Boys did not let up and Kieffer Moore put a near-post header over soon after, while Chaplin fashioned a chance with a silky first touch but his left-foot effort was saved.

Rovers thought they had equalised on the half hour when a flowing move ended with Tyrhys Dolan’s cut-back finding Joe Rankin-Costello who slotted home via a deflection but Szmodics was either adjudged to be obstructing the goalkeeper or deemed to be the one who deflected the ball.

Ipswich came out after the break with renewed purpose and Chaplin hammered a shot into the side netting within 20 seconds of the restart before Pears parried his curling effort a minute later.

Blackburn showed signs of life on the hour when Vaclav Hladky parried a cross into the path of Ben Chrisene but Chaplin got a vital touch before he could pull the trigger, and moments later, Szmodics whipped a first-time shot goalwards that Hladky tipped over the bar.

The home fans were incensed again in the 74th minute when Andrew Moran smashed in off the underside of the bar after Hladcky dropped a cross under pressure from Scott Wharton but the referee deemed it a foul from the Rovers defender.

Hladcky made a terrible error and outstanding save in the same move in the 79th minute as his pass six yards out was blocked by Szmodics but the Czech stopper made a miraculous recovery, diving full stretch to tip the shot wide and Ipswich held on.

John Eustace says Blackburn have shown they are “ready for the fight” in the Sky Bet Championship relegation battle after a hard-earned goalless draw at Middlesbrough.

It was a sixth draw in eight games for Rovers, who are still waiting for their first win since Eustace took charge – but the manager was delighted with the display at the Riverside and felt his side deserved more.

“I thought we were outstanding,” said Eustace, whose team are three points above the drop zone.

“With and without the ball we were very good, we’ve had a really good week on the training field and I’m really disappointed we didn’t win the game.

“Again, we showed great character in difficult moments. I’m disappointed we didn’t win but delighted we didn’t lose.

“It’s another draw. I want more wins, of course, but you can see the commitment and character in the group.

“The games we’ve had so far, every game we’ve been fully committed and we’ve been unfortunate not to win more games. The fans can see the commitment week in, week out and with a bit of luck we’d have won this game but it just didn’t drop for us at the right times.

“There is pressure on everyone. We have to keep our head, keep positive, don’t get sucked into the negativity. We’ve been in the bottom five or six but it’s important we keep focused and keep believing.

“I haven’t looked at the other scores, I’m just focused on Blackburn and the commitment today was outstanding. We showed we’ll roll our sleeves up and we’re ready for the fight.”

Both sides had their moments at the Riverside, with Sammie Szmodics and Sam Gallagher going close for Blackburn but it was Middlesbrough who went closest when Isaiah Jones hit the bar in the last minute.

Boro are now unbeaten in four and have kept three clean sheets on the bounce but lost ground in the race for the play-offs and are now seven points adrift of the top six.

Head coach Michael Carrick said: “I’m frustrated, really, I think it was one of those games where we needed a moment and couldn’t quite find it, whether it was the pass or the finish.

“There was some alright football in between the boxes and we defended the box alright, but couldn’t quite find the moment.

“I thought we started alright and looked bright and dangerous and had a couple of opportunities that didn’t quite go in for us, then we lacked quality after that and didn’t have the moment to make a difference.

“There’s always a positive. The clean sheet, Seny (Dieng) has had to make a couple of saves but nothing extra special.

“We defended the box pretty well. Of course the clean sheet is important but we hope for more and the point doesn’t do an awful lot. It’s a little one to add to the tally but really it’s winning games that matters.”

Blackburn boss John Eustace praised his side’s fighting spirit after a second-half strike from Sammie Szmodics salvaged a 1-1 Championship draw against Millwall at Ewood Park.

The result left Eustace still searching for his first win as Rovers boss but he found plenty to be positive about after the hosts hit back from Michael Obafemi’s shock 53rd-minute opener.

“It wasn’t a classic but again the lads have shown fantastic character and togetherness, to come from a goal behind against a difficult opponent,” said Eustace.

“I was pleased with the reaction. We dominated possession without really testing their keeper, but we worked hard and stuck together and it was a good point in the end.

“The boys since I’ve come in have been fantastic. We’re playing players who have come back from long injuries and they are running through brick walls for us. They are leggy and tired but they are fully committed to the cause.”

The point left Rovers in the thick of the relegation fight and the frustration was evident among some sections of the home support at the final whistle.

Szmodics proved a threat throughout but clear-cut chances were few and far between and Yasin Ayari’s speculative long-range effort in injury time summed up Rovers’ overall lack of threat.

Eustace added: “We have to show more belief in the final third but we are showing the right signs and with 10 games to go, it’s about not losing and getting the right result.

“There’s a lot of teams from around 10th spot down that can be involved in the relegation fight and it’s just vital we keep believing in what we’re doing.”

Millwall boss Neil Harris was satisfied with a point that extended his unbeaten run – since replacing Joe Edwards last month – to three games.

And Harris was particularly pleased with Obafemi who came off the bench to grab his first goal since signing his loan deal from Rovers’ Lancashire rivals Burnley.

Obafemi has struggled with fitness and illness since moving to The Den and Harris said: “I’m delighted for Mike.

“It was too risky to start him tonight because he’s our only fit striker coming back from injury, but I was really pleased with his performance.

“We’re really pleased with the points total of seven from three games. The glass is definitely half full and there are lots of positives that I’ve learned today.”

Harris insisted he would not attach any blame to Danny McNamara, whose blunder at the back allowed Szmodics in to sweep home Rovers’ equaliser.

Left-back McNamara has been one of the stand-out performers under Harris and the head coach said: “When you get your noses in front in a scrappy game at this stage of the season, you need to see the game out.

“Danny is disappointed but he will stand up and take responsibility and there were other things we didn’t do well in the build-up to the goal, so there is no individual blame culture.

“The big thing for me is that we came off tonight and we gave a really poor goal away but the players all mentioned that it was a really good point for us tonight.”

Sammie Szmodics salvaged a point for Blackburn but his 20th Championship goal of the season could not disguise the home side’s frustration after a tough 1-1 draw with Millwall at Ewood Park.

Szmodics pounced on a defensive error to fire home just past the hour mark, 10 minutes after Millwall substitute Michael Obafemi had lashed the Lions in front.

But the result extended Rovers’ dismal streak to just one win in 15 league games and leaves John Eustace still searching for his first victory in charge.

In contrast, Millwall’s point stretched their unbeaten run under Neil Harris to three matches and they will arguably have been the happier, despite the careless manner in which they tossed away over an hour of sterling defensive work.

Revitalised under the charge of their all-time record goalscorer, the visitors had the best chance of a first half that was almost devoid of incident, Ziam Flemming shooting into the side-netting from a tight angle after George Saville’s corner.

It was the only chance of any kind mustered in the first half by Harris’ men, who seemed happy to sit back and squeeze the momentum out of the home side, with Japhet Tanganga in particular outstanding at the back.

The Lions’ tactics could largely be said to have worked if the scattered boos that greeted the hosts at the half-time whistle was anything to go by.

Szmodics could do nothing with an effort from a tight angle after being put through by Tyrhys Dolan, then Szmodics returned the favour but his team-mate was caught offside.

The busy Dolan tried his luck from long range but his effort was blocked by Tanganga, who was also central to hacking away a dangerous Dom Hyam free-kick, before Flemming had his chance at the other end, just before the half-hour mark.

Jake Cooper denied Szmodics a shooting chance with an excellent interception, then Ryan Longman’s gutsy counter-attack trickled out to neatly sum up a forgettable first period.

Obafemi needed less than eight minutes to make an impression, tenaciously winning Billy Mitchell’s fine cross into the box and capitalising on poor Rovers defending to turn and fire a rising shot past home goalkeeper Leo Wahlstedt.

Amid evident frustration among the home fans, Rovers responded well, Szmodics forcing a save from Matija Sarkic before a desperate blunder from Millwall’s Danny McNamara led to their 63rd-minute equaliser.

The full-back failed to spot Rovers substitute Amor Sigurdsson when playing a square ball and the Iceland striker, who had only been on the field for two minutes, served Szmodics to sweep the leveller past Sarkic.

The excellent Tanganga headed away a dangerous cross under pressure from Szmodics, while Yasin Ayari’s long-range effort deep into injury time was palmed away by Sarkic as Millwall held on.

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe hailed a “big moment” in his side’s season after they scraped past Championship Blackburn on penalties in the FA Cup on Tuesday.

Martin Dubravka saved two spot-kicks as the Magpies prevailed 4-3 in the shoot-out after the game had ended 1-1 after extra time.

With the club having slipped to 10th in the Premier League in what has been a largely underwhelming campaign after last year’s top-four finish, the cup now represents the best chance to maintain their upward trajectory.

Howe said: “Obviously a lot was riding on the outcome so I thought the players handled the moment brilliantly, the goalkeeper and outfield players who took the penalties.

“It was big moment in our season at such a crucial stage.

“The players are desperate to achieve. No-one is underestimating the importance of the FA Cup.”

Howe also praised the heroics of Dubravka after the Slovakia keeper had been ill in the build-up to the game.

He said: “The two penalty saves were huge for us but in open play I thought he really performed well and we needed him to because they had a few big moments.

“He’s been playing feeling slightly ill and he deserves huge credit for doing that. He was nowhere near fit for the weekend against Arsenal and hasn’t been 100 per cent for quite a long period of time.”

Dubravka kept Blackburn at bay with a number of saves before Newcastle broke the deadlock in the 71st minute through Anthony Gordon.

Blackburn responded well and levelled through the impressive Sammie Szmodics and both sides had chances to win it, in normal time and extra time, but it came down to penalties and Dubravka kept out efforts from Szmodics and Dominic Hyam.

Howe said: “I thought we got better as it went on. I don’t think the first half was particularly good, I thought the second half was better and extra time was our best spell of the game by a long way.

“Really we shouldn’t have allowed it to go to penalties with the chances we missed in extra time.”

Blackburn manager John Eustace was pleased with the effort of his side, who played at a level above that of a team 16th in the Championship.

Eustace, who is still awaiting his first win after taking charge earlier this month, said: “When it goes down to penalties it’s a bit of a lottery but I’m very, very proud of the squad that we used and also very proud of the supporters.

“I couldn’t ask for any more effort and desire and togetherness. You can see that everyone’s really fighting and looking after each other and you can see the style of play improving game by game.

“We’re making small steps forward. We’re playing against a top Premier League team, top players, and you could see that we could hurt them in certain areas. On another day we could have had a couple more goals.”

Wales captain Aaron Ramsey is set to miss the Euro 2024 play-off against Finland, Cardiff manager Erol Bulut has revealed.

Ramsey made two substitute appearances for Cardiff earlier this month after spending five months out with a knee injury.

But Ramsey reported a calf problem last week and a scan has now shown that a tendon issue will rule him out until the end of March.

Wales play Finland in the play-off semi-final in Cardiff on March 21.

The winners will host Poland or Estonia in Cardiff five days later for a place at Euro 2024 this summer.

“The last time we spoke about Ramsey I got a report that it was a strain,” Bulut said after Cardiff’s 0-0 draw with Blackburn in the Sky Bet Championship.

“But yesterday (Monday) I hear it was a strain on the tendon. He will be available end of March.

“This is also a disappointing for us. I will support him every way I can. It’s not easy to be out for five months.

“He will be out for four to six weeks.”

Bulut bemoaned Cardiff’s failure in front of goal after drawing a blank for the fourth successive home game.

“Generally I am satisfied,” Bulut said. “Maybe you will ask, ‘Why?’ When we see the last weeks, we lost many points and games.

“It was not easy for my team to go out and play positively, because of the confidence which has been lost. Today it was important to get a bit of confidence back.

“This is the point where the confidence is not where we need it. It’s missing.

“Defensively we were good. The team was really working hard. In front of the goal is the issue. We create a lot, but don’t put the ball in the net and this continues.”

New Blackburn boss John Eustace suggested his players were too nice after Callum Britain’s effort struck the arm of Dimitrios Goutas during the second half.

Goutas’ arm was in an unnatural position, but Rovers players did not appeal and play was waved on.

Eustace said: “It did looked handball to me. We’ve got a really nice group of players and I would like to have seen them appeal a little bit more.

“It possibly goes to VAR in the Premier League and the players can be as nice as they want then.

“I’m delighted with a point and our first clean sheet in 17 games.

“It was important we stop goals going in because we’ve got the worst record in the league.

“It’s a big step to getting that togetherness and belief that we are really good team and we want to get to the 50-point mark as quickly as possible.”

Cardiff and Blackburn served up few thrills in a 0-0 draw that provided little optimism either can escape the bottom half of the Sky Bet Championship.

Both teams came into the contest low on confidence after poor form – Cardiff had lost six of their last seven in all competitions, Blackburn had won only once in 11 league outings – and it showed on a night of low quality.

Blackburn, five points above the relegation zone at kick-off, knew victory would take them above Cardiff in the bottom half of the table.

But John Eustace is still waiting for his first win as Rovers boss with one defeat and two draws from three games since succeeding Jon Dahl Tomasson at Ewood Park.

Cardiff also remain in a rut with scoring a clear issue, the Bluebirds having failed to register for the fourth successive home game.

Dimitrios Goutas’ early header counted as an on-target attempt but, in truth, the ball might have lacked the necessary power to cross the line before Aynsley Pears collected.

Dominic Hyam fizzed a shot wide from 25 yards but the Rovers captain was culpable conceding possession in a dangerous area and allowing Karlan Grant to burst down the left.

The on-loan West Brom forward sent over a dangerous ball which Ryan Wintle chose to leave when shooting seemed the wiser option.

Grant remained the biggest threat to breaking the deadlock while Rubin Colwill, benefiting from a rare run of games and making his third successive start, presented the odd touch of quality.

Rovers were stretched after Sondre Tronstad lost possession in midfield and Manolis Siopis released Grant. However, Pears closed down the angle at the near post and pushed the ball to safety.

Cardiff started the second half with purpose and Blackburn were fortunate not to concede.

Pears prevented Josh Bowler from opening the scoring low at his near post and then tipped over a short corner routine found Grant unmarked at the edge of the area.

Kion Etete forced another reaction save from Pears after good work by Colwill, Goutas headed wide and Grant was just off-target with a free-kick.

Rovers were creaking but almost stunned the home side with their first on-target attempt after 64 minutes.

Callum Britain’s effort was blocked by the arm of Goutas, which was raised yet escaped the attention of referee Leigh Doughty.

Play continued in the Cardiff box and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath spread himself superbly to deny substitute Tyrhys Dolan.

Rovers had more impetus after the introduction of Dolan and John Buckley, but that eventually petered out as the encounter drifted towards a tame conclusion.

New Blackburn boss John Eustace was left with plenty of positives from their derby draw at Preston despite seeing the home side fight back from 2-0 down at Deepdale.

After tasting defeat on his return to Birmingham in midweek, Eustace must have felt his maiden Rovers win was on the way after first-half strikes from Sammie Szmodics and Sam Gallagher put them in charge against their Lancashire rivals.

Rovers were unable to hold on, with play-off chasing Preston hitting back just before the break to level through goals from Robbie Brady and Emil Riis, but Eustace was nevertheless heartened by his team’s performance.

“I’m very proud of the effort of the group,” he said. “The way they dug in with a few difficult moments was very rewarding.

“We wanted three points with the way we started, it was exceptional. We executed the game plan and the first half an hour was very good.

“There were a few tired bodies, you could see that and the decision-making a couple of times towards the end of the half cost us.

“It’s disappointing, but there are a lot of positives to take from the game. The way we dug in, the way we stuck together, the way we defended a very physical team. I think this group of players have been questioned for that level of commitment to keep the ball out of the net and I think they did that.

“It’s a good point against a good team.

“There’s no feeling of what might have been because you don’t have any divine right to win any games.

“You have to battle and keep the ball out for 95 minutes.

“We were always going to be under bits of pressure. It was really disappointing to concede two set-pieces. We need to get better at that.

“We’ve got quality players and quality going forward and we showed that. Overall, I’m very happy with the effort of the players.”

Szmodics overtook Plymouth’s Morgan Whittaker at the top of the Championship scoring charts as he gave Rovers an early lead and Gallagher sent the visiting fans into scenes of jubilation with a neat flick in the 23rd minute.

But a four-minute burst scuppered their victory charge with Brady’s stunning strike opening his account for the season and Riis scrambling home his third goal in as many games to draw the hosts level.

“It’s a good point in a local derby,” said Preston boss Ryan Lowe.

“It’s frustrating. When we were in the ascendency and got two goals back, there only looked to be one winner and that was us.

“We were camped out in their half. When you’re two goals down and get back to 2-2, you’ve got to be pleased with the point.

“I was disappointed with the two goals.

“Both sets of teams were out on their feet at the end.

“It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I thought the lads were fantastic in sticking to it.

“It ends up being a bit of a dogged performance in the end. We played a lot of football to try and get our way in. It’s a point in the right direction at the end.

“They were mistakes and individual errors really. I’m not going to fault the players.

“When you’ve got one of the best players in the league through on goal he’s going to score. You can’t give those types of goals away.

“We had to deal with the ball down the side for the second as well. We need to find solutions for next time.”

John Eustace’s wait for a first win at Blackburn goes on after Preston battled back to claim a 2-2 draw in an entertaining Lancashire derby clash at Deepdale.

Eustace, whose first game in charge of Rovers ended in defeat at former club Birmingham, saw his side let a 2-0 lead slip but still dented Preston’s play-off aspirations.

All four goals came in the first half as Sammie Szmodics regained his place as the Championship’s top scorer before Sam Gallagher doubled the visitors’ lead.

But Robbie Brady’s 39th-minute strike and Emil Riis’ effort four minutes later secured Ryan Lowe’s hosts a point.

Eustace made two changes from the side which lost at St Andrew’s as John Fleck made his debut and Scott Wharton returned to the starting line-up, while North End remained unchanged from the side that beat Middlesbrough to earn a third successive win.

Blackburn arrived at Deepdale off the back of a turbulent few weeks but they quickly hit the front as star man Szmodics, who had already lashed an effort wide, opened the scoring after just seven minutes.

The 28-year-old overtook Plymouth’s Morgan Whittaker at the top of the second-tier scoring charts as he raced on to Gallagher’s flick on and coolly slotted beyond Freddie Woodman.

Down the other end, Liam Millar cut onto his left foot but could only tamely hit straight at Aynsley Pears.

Fleck’s debut lasted just 17 minutes before he was forced of with injury but Rovers were soon celebrating a second goal.

Gallagher sent the visiting fans into scenes of jubilation when he got in behind from Callum Brittain’s defence-splitting pass and converted with a neat flick in the 23rd minute.

It could have been three when Szmodics forced Woodman into a decent save after Brittain’s free-kick was cleared into his path.

But a four-minute burst saw the Lilywhites level before the break.

The first goal was a fine curling first-time finish from Brady, a stunning strike to open his account for the season.

And Riis scrambled home his third goal in as many games to draw the hosts level on the stroke of half-time.

Referee David Webb was jeered with chants of “you’re not fit to referee” from both sets of supporters after a break in play with an injury.

The momentum was all with the hosts after a scintillating end to the first half and Riis fashioned a chance for Brady with a cheeky backheel, but a pivotal Blackburn block kept the scores level.

Mads Frokjaer then smashed a 20-yard volley over as Preston continued to press.

Dangerous Danish striker Riis nodded an Alan Browne cross straight at Pears, who then produced an important stoppage-time save to keep out Browne’s header and help earn a point for his side.

New Blackburn boss John Eustace said he was happy with the work he did at Birmingham after his side were beaten 1-0 by his former club at St Andrew’s.

Andre Dozzell made the decisive breakthrough in the 77th minute to end City’s 388-minute drought to reward City’s dominance.

The dismissal of Eustace appeared harsh, as he was forced out having led the team to sixth place in the Sky Bet Championship.

Chief executive Garry Cook said Eustace’s ambitions were not aligned with the club’s.

Yet the 44-year-old’s replacement, Wayne Rooney, was sacked after winning just twice in 15 games as the club plummeted to 20th in the table.

“It was great to be back, I had 15 brilliant months here,” said Eustace.

“The most important thing was to not lose. That’s not a good feeling but I’m fully focused on Blackburn now and I wish Birmingham all the best.

“I have no hard feelings, it’s part and parcel of the job.

“If that wouldn’t have happened I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to be manager of Blackburn.

“I was very happy with the work I did, you could see the club grew and I left it in a much better position than when I came in.

“We were playing some really good football when I left so I was happy with the job I did.”

Asked if he was suitably ambitious, he answered: “I think results and performances showed that.”

As Eustace was talking about his time at St. Andrew’s, a supporter came into the media suite and shouted “They should never have got rid of you, John!”

Eustace replied to the assembled media: “Put that in your reports.”

Regarding the game, Eustace said: “It was disappointing. The lads battled really hard but we have to be better with the ball.”

Tony Mowbray’s side were good value for their first win in four matches, which saw them climb within a point of 16th-placed Rovers.

Marc Roberts hit the post and his namesake Tyler missed one-on-one chances in either half.

Eustace’s counterpart and former Blackburn manager Mowbray felt his team were good value for the win.

“It was an important, big, three points because you can’t keep having 23, 25 shots a game but keep getting beaten,” he said.

“We should have scored more goals and if we’d have got three or four it would have given us more confidence.

“I picked a team to show Blackburn that we were up for a fight because they can cut you open.

“Rather than the artists who can drag their foot over the ball, I played the grafters and chasers but the substitutes impacted the game pretty well too.”

Dozzell spared City’s blushes when he poked home after he and Adam Stansfield had shots blocked, before Cody Drameh’s cross fell back into his path off Kyle McFadzean’s foot.

New Blackburn boss John Eustace made a losing return to St Andrew’s as his side were beaten 1-0 by former club Birmingham.

Andre Dozzell struck the only goal of the Sky Bet Championship contest in the 77th minute to end City’s 388-minute drought and reward their dominance.

Tony Mowbray’s side were good value for their first win in four matches, which saw them climb to within a point of 16th-placed Rovers.

Marc Roberts hit the post and his namesake Tyler also missed two one-on-one chances for the hosts.

Eustace, who watched Saturday’s 3-1 win at Stoke from the stands, was back in the familiar surroundings after his sacking as City head coach in October.

Birmingham’s former Rovers boss Mowbray did not get the chance to enjoy any pre-match pleasantries with 44-year-old Eustace as the City manager was forced to take a seat in the stands, banned for receiving three yellow cards.

Koji Miyoshi blotted his copybook when he sized up a shooting chance after a Blues corner was partly cleared, slicing horribly wide.

However the Japan attacking midfielder got his next involvement right, threading through Tyler Roberts – only for the striker to steer the ball wide when clean through with only goalkeeper Aynsley Pears to beat.

Roberts’ namesake Marc went even closer to breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute. The towering defender, lingering upfield following a corner, clipped the outside of the post with a glancing header from Miyoshi’s hanging cross.

Little had been seen of Sammie Szmodics until the 22-goal Blackburn marksman lifted a rising effort narrowly over the bar from the edge of the box.

Szmodics forced John Ruddy into his first save when he tried to catch the veteran keeper out with a quick first-time effort which the former Wolves man palmed around the post.

Birmingham then wasted two chances in quick succession. After Marc powered a header over from close range from Dozzell’s free-kick, Tyler Roberts skied high and wide from six yards out after Pears completely mishit a pass to leave him one-on-one.

The hosts lost their momentum and Mowbray made a double switch, bringing Juninho Bacuna and Siriki Dembele on for Paik Seung-ho and Miyoshi.

Dembele flashed a rising angled effort over the bar after Tyler Roberts teed him up deep inside the box.

Dozzell spared City’s blushes when he finally poked home 13 minutes from time.

The scrappy goal came after Dozzell and Adam Stansfield had shots blocked before Cody Drameh’s cross fell back into his path off Kyle McFadzean’s foot.

Blackburn first-team coach Damien Johnson saluted an “outstanding” performance after they beat Stoke 3-1 to move away from relegation trouble.

Rovers went into the game with the worst form in the Sky Bet Championship, which resulted in Jon Dahl Tomasson leaving as boss on Friday and John Eustace now in the hot seat.

Johnson and fellow first-team coach David Lowe took the team for the game, with Eustace coming into the dugout in the second half, and he will have enjoyed the performance as they raced into a three-goal lead to shellshock their opponents.

Tyrhys Dolan’s close-range finish set Rovers on their way before the Championship’s top scorer, Sammie Szmodics, headed a second and Dolan’s composed finish put Blackburn in dreamland.

Former Blackburn striker Niall Ennis pulled one back before the break but Daniel Johnson saw his weak penalty saved just after half-time and Blackburn comfortably stopped the rot, registering a first league win since December.

Johnson praised Blackburn’s players for responding to the “difficult” last few days.

He said: “I’m not going to lie, it feels good. It’s been a difficult couple of days. Great credit to the players. It’s not easy for them but I thought they were outstanding today.

“Their concentration, their application, how they went about it, the togetherness they showed as you could see towards the end, was superb, so great credit to them.

“They did lots of good things. I think we showed two sides of the game today. Lots of good things in the first half and then we dug in.

“We knew that we’d find space on transition so there was an element of allowing Stoke to come onto us. I think at times in the game we could look after the ball better but when you’ve had a run of results like this, the important thing is you get three points.”

Stoke have won twice in the last 17 games and are only three points clear of the drop zone.

Steven Schumacher said: “The start is just not good enough. If you give a Championship team a 3-0 head start, then you’re doomed, because they don’t really have to do anything else in the game.

“That’s kind of what we did. We didn’t start the game well enough. They scored goals that were too easy to score and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“From the third goal onwards, I thought we looked better, we looked like a team. We were positive, we passed the ball forwards which we didn’t do up until they scored the third goal, and we won some tackles and some duels which is the bare minimum.

“We’ve got to show a bit more character, a bit more belief, a bit more bravery. More importantly, we’ve got to show a bit more fight.”

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