Blackburn Rovers ended their run of eight games without a Championship win and kickstarted a new era with a 3-1 win over Stoke City.

With new head coach John Eustace watching from the stands, before taking the reigns in the second half, Rovers got off to the perfect start and led by two after 20 minutes.

Tyrhys Dolan first turned in Callum Brittain's superb low cross before Sam Szmodics nodded in Ryan Hedges' header back across goal. 

Rovers were far more direct and went back to basics, particularly for the third, which arrived before the 40-minute mark. Aynsley Pears' goal-kick was nodded on by Sam Gallagher and Dolan raced away to bag his second with a composed finish.

That wasn't game over though as Stoke rallied and reduced the deficit minutes later. Niall Ennis rather typically scored on his return to Ewood Park, rolling the ball into the corner from inside the box.

The match-defining moment came just a few minutes after the restart when Pears denied Daniel Johnson from the spot. Brittain had been penalised for bringing down Andre Vidigial but the Rovers goalkeeper guessed right to deny the former Preston North End man.

Although Stoke piled on the pressure to try and find a way back into the match, Rovers were far more resolute. They sat deeper and more compact, not afraid to be more direct and counter the opposition.

It brought just rewards and a great platform for Eustace to build on when he officially takes charge of his first match against old club Birmingham Coty on Tuesday.

Whilst the 44-year-old wasn't officially in charge, it was the beginning of a new dawn at Ewood Park.

Jon Dahl Tomasson was replaced in the dugout by Damien Johnson and David Lowe, who were boosted by the return of Ryan Hedges after more than four months on the sidelines.

The Welshman started at wing-back, with Callum Brittain back from injury on the opposite flank. Kyle McFadzean made his full Rovers debut in the place of the ill Scott Wharton too.

The new head coach was unveiled to support before kick-off and would've been delighted with what he saw in the first half. Rovers got off to the perfect start when Dolan put them ahead after only seven minutes.

The credit should go to Brittain for delivering a fantastic low cross which the forward simply couldn't miss. It's his first goal since November after returning from injury.

Rovers were playing a lot deeper and far more direct. The team was set up to sit in and counter-attack, which was working a treat. Gallagher could've made it two before the 15-minute mark but he turned wide after being sent through by Dolan.

The two split strikers, along with Szmodics, were causing all sorts of issues. It was little surprise then when the top-scorer got himself on the scoresheet.

Brittain was again involved as his deep cross was headed back by Hedges  for Szmodics to nod in from close range. 17 for the season and a two-goal lead for Rovers after only 20 minutes.

Loud cries of 'you're not fit to wear the shirt' rung out from the away end. For all Rovers' off-field issues, Stoke are in a pretty concerning slump themselves,

Things got even worse 15 minutes later as Dolan seemingly put the game beyond doubt. It was as simple as you like; a long goal-kick from Pears, flicked on by Gallagher and Dolan did the rest one-on-one.

However, that three-goal cushion only lasted a few minutes as Stoke responded. Of course, it had to be Ennis who got it, returning to the club that sold him only 10 days ago. He got behind the defence, checked and then slotted into the corner.

That sparked Stoke into some urgency and just after half-time, they missed a golden chance to reduce the deficit further. Andre Vidigal tangled with Brittain and referee Gavin Ward pointed to the penalty spot.

Johnson stepped up, stuttered and delayed but Pears guessed the right way and kept his effort out. Stoke continued to dominate the flow of the game as they looked for a route back in.

Eustace then emerged on the touchline and took over in the technical area, barking orders and rallying his new side. They almost restored their three-goal cushion but Sondre Tronstad's deflected volley nearly was tipped over the bar.