Bournemouth kept the pressure on the Championship’s top six with a 2-0 win at out-of-sorts Blackburn.
A goal in either half did the damage for the Cherries – Philip Billing lashing home his third in four games to break the deadlock before a composed finish from Arnaut Danjuma in the 75th minute calmed any nerves after an underwhelming second half.
It was a vital result after wins for Barnsley and Reading but showed that Jonathan Woodgate’s men will take some stopping, given their form is only bettered by the top two. They are a point off sixth place with a game in hand after a third straight win.
Blackburn did not do a lot wrong in the game but could not find the required finish in attack, summed up by a poor penalty from Adam Armstrong in stoppage time. They have gone seven without a win at Ewood Park for the first time since 2004, and have lost more games overall than they did in the whole of last season.
Armstrong returned as one of four changes for Blackburn while the Cherries welcomed back David Brooks in one of three alterations from the win over Middlesbrough.
The first passage of genuine quality produced a goal in the 29th minute as the Cherries worked the ball to Danjuma on the left, who cut inside to fire goalwards. Although his shot was blocked, the ball fell to Billing 12 yards out who slammed the ball beyond Thomas Kaminski.
Blackburn responded well and Asmir Begovic had to make a flying save to keep out Harvey Elliott’s 25-yard curling shot, and after the restart they came out with renewed urgency and Armstrong hammered over a presentable free-kick.
They seemed certain to equalise nine minutes later when Sam Gallagher’s knock-down fell to Armstrong 12 yards out but Steve Cook and Cameron Carter-Vickers heroically flung themselves in the way and the strike deflected wide.
But with only their second shot on goal all day, the Cherries doubled their advantage 15 minutes from time when Ben Pearson did well to win the ball back and fed Danjuma, who skilfully spun away from Darragh Lenihan on the edge of the area before clinically placing his shot into the bottom right corner for his 11th of the season.
Danjuma hammered wide towards the end before Rovers were given a lifeline in the second minute of injury time after Adam Smith upended Gallagher in the area. Armstrong, though, fluffed his lines with a penalty that lacked direction and was saved by the legs of Begovic.
The Bournemouth stopper flapped at a cross a minute later and the ball fell to Bradley Johnson, who saw his goalbound shot hacked off the line.