Spirited Wolves sneak draw
10:01pm Friday 11th January 2013 in © Press Association 2014
Gary Bowyer signed off from his stint as Blackburn caretaker boss with a point while Wolves' new era under Dean Saunders started with a share of the spoils after an entertaining 1-1 draw at Molineux.
Michael Appleton's switch from Blackpool to Lancashire rivals Rovers on a two-and-a-half-year deal was finally confirmed just two hours prior to kick-off, meaning he was not in attendance in the Black Country and instead watched the televised fixture.
Bowyer, with three wins from his three previous games at the helm, looked set to boast a 100 per cent record after Jordan Rhodes' contentious first-half penalty - his 14th goal in Rovers colours - handed the visitors the lead. But Roger Johnson, with only his second goal for Wanderers, nodded home in the 74th minute to level matters.
Saunders showed he was not afraid of making big decisions as he handed teenage striker Jake Cassidy his first-ever Wolves start, one of three changes from the FA Cup exit at Luton which proved the final chapter in Stale Solbakken's reign.
And it was Wanderers who started firmly on the front foot in the opening quarter. Rhodes should have tested Carl Ikeme when sent clear into a promising position and it was Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean who made the first real save of the game after 19 minutes, parrying well from Kevin Foley's flicked effort.
Yet out of nowhere the visitors took the lead midway through the half. Wolves made a mess of things defensively and gave away a cheap free-kick 20 yards out in a wide position, which was played short to Ruben Rochina.
He danced into the area before receiving minimal contact from Bakary Sako and the Spaniard made the most of it, with referee Dean Whitestone initially failing to award the penalty before his assistant flagged, leaving Rhodes to do the rest from the spot.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Wolves although they continued to probe. The lively feet of Rochina tested Ikeme from 20 yards before, at the other end, Kean turned away Stephen Ward's dangerous cross, with David Davis only able to fire the rebound over on the turn.
Danny Murphy headed away a dangerous corner off the line while Johnson nodded on to the roof of the net as Wolves searched for an equaliser, although the fare on offer was struggling somewhat to compete with the first half.
Saunders introduced Jamie O'Hara in the 73rd minute and the midfielder made an instant impact, swinging the ball in from the left with his first touch for Johnson to nod home an equaliser. And despite plenty of Wanderers pressure that was the way it remained, with both sides likely to be happy with a point.