Stoke City held on for the point they came for at Ewood Park and were particularly well disciplined under the instructions of manager Michael O’Neill.

The Potters boss is no stranger to setting up a team to contain, having done it to great effect during his time in charge of Northern Ireland.

And as Tony Mowbray pointed out, his sides in the past have frustrated ‘better teams than Blackburn Rovers’ as the Potters held out for a fifth clean sheet in the last nine games.

Stoke had their tactics spot on, nullifying the space in behind for Adam Armstrong , and playing a flat midfield three in front of their back four stopped the supply line to Stewart Downing and Joe Rothwell cutting in from the flanks.

Too often both Sam Gallagher and Armstrong made the same run in behind, making it easy for their movements to be tracked.

With wide players Tom Ince and Nick Powell defending very narrow, that meant the only option for Rovers was to go wide to their full backs.

While a few surging Ryan Nyambe runs in the second half almost created something for his side, Amari’i Bell on the opposite flank saw a lot of the ball, but too often slowed attacks down and failed to create any chances from the left side.

Stoke were more than happy to sit in and not press the ball, Darragh Lenihan and Tosin Adarabioyo touching the ball a combined 194 times demonstrating just that.

Adam Armstrong started both halves brightly, managed just 26 touches. Five of them amounted to shots at goal, but there was no way beyond Jack Butland.

Stoke offered little on the break, of particular disappointment to O’Neill, but Powell making more tackles than anyone on the pitch showed how Rovers pushed them back, but couldn’t find a way through.

“If you look at the way they played, normally they play with one sitter and two No.8s who look to play forward and play around the box,” Mowbray said of Stoke’s approach.

“They dropped them in and played like a flat three with two wide players who tucked in.

“It was really difficult to get through because normally we would play two No.10s around their one sitting midfielder, but they narrowed it off and played deep to nullify Armstrong’s speed.

“Michael is a wily fox and he has been around the game a long time and has played against better teams than Blackburn Rovers with Northern Ireland. He’s played against world champions in Germany and knows how to make life difficult for those teams and there was a bit of that knowledge in there tonight.

“It was more difficult than other games we have faced.”

The result leaves Stoke one point above the dropzone in a packed bottom seven.

But O’Neill saluted his side’s discipline to leave Ewood with a point heading in to a crunch game with Luton this weekend.

He felt they could have done more with the ball, but added: “It was a very good defensive performance.

“Our work-rate was fantastic. I thought out wide men worked particularly hard, our midfield as well, and obviously the front player has a lot of work to do as well.

“It’s a really good point coming here against a very good team in very good form, but equally there’s aspects of the game where I felt we could have done better.

“I just felt, at times with the ball, we could have done better.

“We had opportunities on the counter-attack where, when we’ve been at our best in the past, we’ve capitalised on that away from home.

“We just didn’t manage to do that. Whether we didn’t find the right pass, hold the ball up at the right time, or make the right decision, but that’s possibly being a little bit critical because what the players gave in terms of effort was enormous.

“Sometimes when you give that much on the defensive side, it takes away from the attacking side.”

Reserving praise for Rovers, O'Neill added: “Blackburn are in as good a form as anyone in the division and have been together for a while, you can see that in how they play, there is a consistency in how they play.

“They are a team that have impressed me all season, and earlier in the season at the bet365 Stadium, so to come here and take a point is a positive and it gives us the chance to obviously pick up seven points in a week where we have two away games, which would be a great return.”