“The clean-sheets are extremely valuable at this stage of the season.”

“The clean-sheets are extremely valuable at this stage of the season.”

After Blackburn Rovers were awarded a well-deserved point after some defensive resilience kept free-scoring Southampton at bay as the sides drew 0-0 at Ewood Park, Rovers Head Coach John Eustace proudly reflected on a solid, hard-fought display of togetherness between the players, staff and supporters to RoversTV.

“We fully deserve the point, today. I was really pleased with the effort and commitment. The game plan was good and we limited an excellent Southampton team to just three good chances. It was the first-time that they haven’t scored in the league, this season, for around 30-odd games, as well. The commitment that the boys are showing is outstanding and to top that off, the fans were outstanding all afternoon. They were the 12th man for us today and stuck with us throughout the whole 90 minutes and ever since I’ve come in, really.

“I thought we had the better chances of the game and we can probably be disappointed not to have won the game. As long as the lads are showing that important fighting spirit, commitment and togetherness, which they have been from day one, then we’re heading in the right direction. The supporters showed their appreciation for that hard work, endeavour and physicality that we showed today.

“For a 0-0, I thought it was a really entertaining game and a proper Championship affair as two good teams pushed to try and win the three points. That mentality is down to the group we’ve got. To lose Ryan (Hedges) early on was a blow, but young Dilan (Markanday) came on and put in a sensational performance. I thought his work-rate and commitment were sensational and it’s showing that the whole squad are together and are striving to win as many points as we can to stay in this league.

“You only get results on Saturday if you work hard in the week, Monday to Friday. The most important thing is that the players are improving with each day they’re in training. The boys have been excellent in training, they’ve been working their socks off and taken on all the messages we’ve given. Since day one, I’ve said that we’ll strive towards being competitive in every game we play and we’ve certainly done that in every game we’ve played; have we got enough wins? No, we haven’t, but I think that’s three defeats in 13 and we’re picking up points during a vital stage of the season. We have to stick together and keep believing.

“The clean-sheets are extremely valuable at this stage of the season. We’ve spoken about them a lot and we were really disappointed on Monday, despite scoring five and winning away at Sunderland, that we didn’t keep a clean-sheet, because we deserved it for our performance. The boys are working so hard to make sure we’re difficult to play against and clean-sheets certainly help us get points.

“All points are crucial, but to get them off the top sides in the division are very valuable. I think today’s the first-time we’ve earned a point against any of the top four teams. To limit a free-scoring Southampton with the second-highest goalscorer in the league to next to nothing, is very pleasing and it’s down to the hard work that the lads have put in. But, we know that we can’t rest here, we have to come back in on Monday and prepare for another tough game on Wednesday night and have to show that same level of commitment, away at Bristol City.

“Ryan looks like he’s had a slight hamstring strain, but as I’ve said, we need to focus on the squad as a whole. Everyone is going to play a part to make sure that we try to stay in the Championship. Dilan is a perfect example of that. He’s come in having listened carefully to everything we’ve said in training and worked hard with the analysts. Just like the whole squad, who all know their roles so if they do come off the bench, they’re all aware of their jobs and Dilan epitomised that hard work, today with a fantastic job.

“We saw his all-round game, today. They are the levels that he needs to hit, if he wants to play in the team. He has to work hard without the ball and be defensively reliable, which he was, today. We’ve had some good chats with him and he’s learning the defensive side of the game with Damien (Johnson) and David (Lowe). He’s going to be vital for us, both now during the business end of the season and going forwards into the future, because he’s a fantastic player with a great attitude.

“Every one of the players have been sensational; their work-rate and desire have been amazing. Dilan is no different, but he’s had to keep his head down and continue to work hard for his opportunities. When he came on at Sunderland, he did very well and played a big part in the fifth goal and today, he did great again, showing his defensive side. It’s important that he doesn’t drop his levels as we push towards Wednesday’s game.

“Today’s just another point towards our target of staying in the division. I wish we’d have earned three points, of course, but it’s another point in the right direction. We showed great togetherness and defensive stability, today, but we must stick together during the final five games of the season.”