Watford loanee’s header ensures Blackburn still have all to play for in the Championship survival race
TOMMIE Hoban smashed his FIRST of the season to throw battling Rovers a sensational last-gasp lifeline in their bid to beat the drop.
The on-loan Watford centre-back dramatically powered home wideman Connor Mahoney’s corner in the dying stages to nail their first win in eight after three defeats on the spin.
The shock win has closed third-from-bottom Blackburn to within just two points of Burton and Forest – who’ve now been dragged right back into the relegation scrap.
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Thrilled Rovers’ chief Tony Mowbray said: “We were soldiers today.
“That was a massive win for us.
“Tommie’s been out for four or five months but he’s a fantastic guy and I’m so pleased he’s got some reward for his efforts.”
Mowbray added: “That’s a huge three points.
“Now we want to go on and beat Bristol City on Monday.
“If we can do that then the whole bottom half of the league will suddenly be looking over their shoulders.”
Zach Clough stabbed just wide from skipper Chris Cohen’s pass as Forest picked up where they left off after stunning Huddersfield 2-0 last Saturday.
But struggling Rovers, fighting for their Championship lives, went even closer moments later as they quickly imposed themselves on a genuine six-pointer.
Mahoney curled a 22-yard free-kick inches past the back stick on 12 minutes after David Vaughan gave the ball away in midfield.
Jamie Ward burst into the Blackburn box but was foiled by a superb last-ditch Elliott Ward tackle as he shaped to pull the trigger.
Elliott Bennett tried his luck at the other end after being set up by Sam Gallagher as the Reds again conceded possession all too easily.
Mahoney ripped down the right wing but Liam Feeney couldn’t grow an extra inch or two to head in his whipped cross with the goal at his mercy.
Hope Akpan flicked Mahoney’s ball just off target as Rovers continued to pose the greater threat at the City Ground.
But teen starlet Ben Brereton went close twice on the stroke of half-time to remind the lowly visitors that Forest still packed a punch.
Keeper David Raya, playing his first league game since August 2015, dived to his left to hang on to Clough’s 30-yard free-kick after the break.
Armand Traore then drilled past Blackburn’s back post after a quicksilver move involving Ward and Clough as both sides hunted the vital icebreaker.
And it was Rovers who struck that all-important blow after 78 minutes to gun down Forest.
Hoban climbed highest to head Mahoney’s corner past Jordan Smith and spark delirious scenes of joy among over 1600 away fans behind the goal.
Forest were stung into action and Raya got down brilliantly to fist away sub Britt Assombalonga’s point-blank bullet.
But that was the nearest the woeful Reds came as Blackburn’s warriors sealed what could be a stunning game-changer with just four matches left.
Hacked-off Forest boss Mark Warburton said: “We’re right back in the fight at the bottom now.
“We just didn’t do enough to win.
“We started brightly.
“But we became sloppy, gave the ball away cheaply and didn’t show enough quality to take all three points.
“Now we’ve got to improve down at Cardiff on Monday.
“The players have got to show belief and strength of character.”