Stoke City’s manager, players and supporters were left incensed by a refereeing decision in the minute prior to Rovers’ winning goal.

Reda Khadra scored what proved to be the only goal of the game seven minutes after the re-start, firing home from edge of the box after John Buckley blocked a Ben Wilmot clearance.

The move started from a Rovers goal kick though Stoke felt the visitors should have been defending a corner after Mario Vrancic’s shot appeared to have flicked Jan Paul van Hecke en route to flying over Thomas Kaminski’s crossbar.

Referee Tim Robinson gave the goal kick and remained unmoved upon the Stoke protests with Rovers then scoring with the next attack.

It was a decision that left Michael O’Neill furious.

“If you look at the goal, Mario (Vrancic) has a strike that's on target and takes two deflections and the referee in his wisdom decides to award a goal-kick,” he said.

“The ball is kicked forward, we have to defend that then I think Romaine (Sawyers) picks it up, gives the ball to Ben (Wilmot) and Ben's clearance is closed down.

“The next thing, the ball is in the net. It's a good finish from the lad.

“But ultimately we should have been asking Blackburn to defend a corner as opposed to us having to defend a goal-kick. That's what leads to the goal.

“It's disappointing from that aspect because it's a poor decision from the referee. One of many.

“I felt if you went behind it was going to be difficult to get back into the game. Conditions were such, particularly in the second half when the breeze was with Blackburn.

“We tried tactically to change it. We brought three substitutes in, we went 4-3-3, 4-4-2, different ways to get back into the game but we couldn't manage it.”

Rovers controlled the game but O’Neill, who lamented the loss of several key players to injury and suspension, didn’t feel it was a case of his side not getting going.

He added: “I wouldn't say that, no. I think we played quite well in the first half. We tried to build the game in difficult conditions. It was difficult for the players.

“We didn't get an awful lot out of the front two and struggled to create chances but conditions were very, very difficult. I think you have to take that into consideration.

“Then ultimately, the game is decided by one moment. I think it was always going to be that type of game.

“Unfortunately Blackburn had that moment.”