(Etebo, 14)

Rovers were beaten 1-0 at home for their fourth time in their last five Ewood Park matches as they lost to Stoke City.

Peter Etebo’s goal 14 minutes in proved the difference as the Potters’ impressive run of not conceding continued with a sixth consecutive clean sheet.

It could have been worse had David Raya not brilliantly kept out Bojan’s penalty at the end of the first half, while he also pulled off a stunning save to deny Sam Vokes.

The closest Rovers came to a goal was when Adam Armstrong hit the bar while the score was at 0-0.

But some concerted second half pressure failed to find a way beyond Jack Butland as Rovers fell to a ninth defeat in their last 11 matches.

Rovers were without Bradley Dack, and recalled Joe Rothwell, Corry Evans and Richie Smallwood to the starting line-up.

Rothwell was Rovers’ brightest attacking threat in the opening stages and pounced on a mis-placed Etebo pass before firing wide of the target.

He then cut in from the left to link up with Adam Armstrong who curled an effort against the crossbar in the eighth minute.

Stoke slowly grew in to the game though and threatened an opening goal when Tom Ince cut inside Amari’i Bell, only for his shot to be too close to Raya.

Etebo was the driving force in the Potters midfield and would have scored when meeting an Ince cross from six yards were it not for a fine Darragh Lenihan block.

But the Nigerian midfielder didn’t have to wait long for his goal, thumping home an effort from 20 yards after being teed up by Ince.

That ended Stoke’s goal drought which had passed more than 370 minutes.

Rovers were going to have to do something that no Championship team had done since February 23 to get back in to the game, and that was score against Stoke.

But as their play become more pedestrian and predictable, the visitors began to take charge.

Chances were at a premium though inside an increasingly quiet Ewood Park. The home fans almost had something to shout about in the 25th minute as Rothwell drove at the heart of the Stoke defence, but his shot was dragged wide of the target.

While Danny Graham was becoming an increasingly isolated figure, it was Stoke striker Benik Afobe who ended the half on the search for a goal. He found himself racing clear on goal, but was unable to get a shot away thanks to an excellent covering tackle from Charlie Mulgrew.

Then, in first half stoppage time, the striker had the entirety of the Rovers half to run in to, and as Mulgrew tried to get back, he could only succeed in bringing down the striker.

Bojan stepped up, but was denied by an excellent David Raya save, moving away to his right, to keep Rovers in it.

Mulgrew injured himself in the process and was replaced by Derrick Williams at the start of the second half.  

Rovers upped their intensity and with it started to cause Stoke some problems, though a shortage of bodies in the box, and poor delivery, saw them fail to trouble Jack Butland.

That was until a short corner gave Armstrong the opportunity to fire goalwards, with the England ‘keeper palming away his effort, before the follow-up was blocked by Joe Allen.

Bennett fired wide from 25 yards as Rovers began to press hard for an equaliser as they reached the hour mark still one goal behind.

But the game became flat again as Stoke began to look the most likely as they forced several corners from a series of blocked shots.

Rovers’ changes saw Lewis Travis and Ben Brereton introduced as Elliott Bennett moved to right back.

His cross was missed by Brereton but fired in to the side netting from an acute angle by Bell with 12 minutes remaining.

Raya would keep Rovers in it though with another fine save seven minutes from time, diving away to his right to palm behind a Sam Vokes header which looked destined for the bottom corner.

Crosses continued to be swung in, but it was Stoke heads who continued to be on them. A scramble two minutes from time saw Corry Evans’ shot blocked.

But the visitors five added minutes to inflict a ninth defeat in 11 games on Tony Mowbray's side. 

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe (Brereton, 77), Lenihan, Mulgrew (Williams, 46), Bell, Smallwood (Travis, 72), Evans, Bennett, Rothwell, Armstrong, Graham

Subs: Leutwiler, Reed, Rodwell, Conway

Stoke City: Butland, Allen, Ince (Clucas, 39), Etebo, Afobe, McClean, Batth, Martins Indi, Shawcross (Williams, 52), Bojan (Vokes, 60), Edwards

Subs: Federici, Vokes, Adam, Verlinden, Woods