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FULL-TIME: Accrington Stanley 1 Blackburn Rovers 2
NIKOLA Kalinic showed he hasn’t lost any of his predatory instincts as his Blackburn Rovers career enters the last chance saloon.
Whether or not it is even already too late for the £6million Croatian to make his mark at Ewood remains to be seen but one thing that is for sure is he has that uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time.
Kalinic took advantage of a horrendous mix up in the Accrington Stanley defence to ensure Rovers opened their pre-season campaign with victory, after Kurtis Guthrie had cancelled out Keith Andrews opener before the break.
Kalinic could not miss, stabbing home from yards out, but it was just another sign of his ability to be where the chances are.
This pre-season will be crucial to his hopes of carving out a career at Rovers, with Kean freezing him out of the end of the last campaign, but he has started well.
He even had a hand in Andrews’ 15th minute opener, playing a neat one two with the Irishman who then emphatically drilled the ball past Stanley goalkeeper Sean Murdock.
Andrews himself had a difficult time of things last time round, with a section of Rovers fans not warming to him and at time subjecting him to unwarranted abuse.
The midfielder has never moaned though and showed on Saturday what a valuable squad player he is, with a man of the match performance.
Andrews ran the midfield, passed accurately and helped the youngsters through the game as he showed why he should still have a future at Rovers.
A healthy travelling Rovers army got their first glimpse of trialist Bruno Ribeiro, a Brazilian right-back, and he produced a solid enough display without ever being really tested.
Seeing Junior Hoilett limp off with a hamstring injury after just half an hour would have been a concern for Kean and Rovers lost a lot of their threat as a result.
Neither side really deserved the victory in a lacklustre 90 minutes but winning is a habit and Kean would have been delighted to see his side start with a win.
ROVERS: Paul Robinson, Bruno Ribeiro, Martin Olsson, Grant Hanley, Gael Givet, Amine Linganzi, James Knowles, Keith Andrews, Nikola Kalinic, Junior Hoilett, Morten Gamst Pedersen Subs: Micah Evans for Hoilett (36), Jake Kean for Robinson (65), Robbie Cotton for Linganzi (76), Adam Henley for Knowles (86).
STANLEY: Sean Murdock, Danny Coid, Kevin McIntyre, Kern Miller, Sean Hessey, Peter Murphy, Charlie Barnett, Alistair Taylor, Kurtis Guthrie, Ian Craney, A Trialist.
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