Sky Bet Championship: Dale Stephens earns Brighton point at Blackburn
Last Updated: 01/04/14 10:19pm
Substitute Dale Stephens rescued a point for Brighton in the 3-3 draw at Blackburn in the Sky Bet Championship at Ewood Park on Tuesday.
Both sides were looking to strengthen their play-off hopes and David Rodriguez helped Albion draw first blood with a low finish for his first goal in Brighton colours.
Rovers rallied and Jordan Rhodes diverted a Tom Cairney free-kick home from close range before Cairney got on the scoresheet just before half-time from close range.
But Brighton fought admirably and Gordon Greer's first of the season drew them level after 78 minutes before a breathtaking final few minutes that saw Rhodes score Blackburn's third from the penalty spot before Stephens headed in soon afterwards.
It was a result that ultimately damaged both teams' play-off ambitions, with Rovers seven points behind sixth-placed Reading and Brighton three points back from the Royals.
Cairney was the only change for Blackburn from the draw at Millwall and Grant Hanley's red card in that game was rescinded so he retained his place.
Oscar Garcia made two changes after defeat to Middlesbrough, including Rodriguez for the injured Will Buckley.
Former Rovers midfielder Keith Andrews flashed an early effort over for Brighton and Rhodes saw a shot blocked by Matthew Upson before the visitors struck.
The home side were undone after 17 minutes when a routine long ball was flicked on to Jesse Lingard who played in Rodriguez on the right of the area and the Spaniard lashed a shot inside Paul Robinson's near post.
Blackburn's response was swift. Rohan Ince needlessly gave away possession which resulted in a Rovers free-kick and Cairney's low effort was diverted in by Rhodes.
Rhodes flashed a header wide soon after and David Dunn forced Tomasz Kuszczak into a low save after 40 minutes before Rovers made their superiority count a minute later.
Tommy Spurr produced a lung-busting run down the left and his low cross was converted by Cairney from a tight angle.
Blackburn continued to dominate in the second half and almost scored when Bruno Saltor hooked a cross onto his own crossbar.
Kuszczak was called into action again moments later and produced a superb fingertip save to deny Craig Conway.
It was Robinson's turn to impress after 77 minutes when he adjusted brilliantly to palm Solly March's deflected drive away.
But the respite was brief as the visitors equalised a minute later when Greer flicked in a corner at the near post.
Rhodes picked himself up after being bundled over six minutes from time to coolly send Kuszczak the wrong way from the spot.
But the see-saw game took another twist three minutes later as Lingard crossed for Stephens who produced a stunning glancing header to rescue a point.