Sky Bet Championship: Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer hails Jordan Rhodes after win
Last Updated: 23/08/14 7:03pm
Gary Bowyer lavished praise on striker Jordan Rhodes for putting aside Hull's interest in him to inspire Blackburn to a 3-2 win over Bournemouth, whose boss Eddie Howe was disappointed.
The 24-year-old marked his 100th Rovers appearance by scoring his 54th goal just hours after the east Lancashire club had issued a statement declaring he was not for sale, with the Tigers having seen two bids already rejected this week.
Steve Bruce might be tempted to test their resolve again, though, after Rhodes clinically converted his first chance of the afternoon to score Blackburn's 13th-minute opener.
Rovers captain Grant Hanley and Rhodes' strike-partner Rudy Gestede then made it 3-0 inside the opening half-hour before Bournemouth tried to stage a late fightback which proved ultimately unsuccessful.
However, Bowyer reiterated his prized asset will remain at Ewood Park and lauded Rhodes for focusing on his football.
"He's not for sale - the owners have said," Bowyer insisted.
"The lad's been magnificent, I cannot praise him highly enough. He's gone on another level in terms of how he is. I kept in constant communication and asked him how he was - he said, 'I want to play'."
The news that Blackburn's Indian owners are willing to reject Hull's millions - especially with the club struggling to meet Financial Fair Play regulations - was delivered in timely fashion on Saturday morning.
They had a three-goal advantage after 24 minutes and could have been five goals ahead before the break, with Gestede's prod going inches wide and Rhodes' shot hitting a post.
"It gives everybody a lift that's connected with the club," Bowyer added.
"He's got a phenomenal record and it's a phenomenal goalscoring achievement; he does what it says on the tin. It's magnificent. To be able to deal with this...it's fantastic."
Rhodes was withdrawn 13 minutes from time, clapping each side of the ground and embracing Bowyer on the touchline. And so he was sat on the bench in the closing stages as Bournemouth launched an improbable comeback when Adam Smith seemed to dive to win an 81st-minute penalty off Alex Baptiste, which Brett Pitman converted, before Steve Cook's 90th-minute header put Ewood Park on edge.
Bowyer was livid with the decision to award a spot-kick, adding: "They pushed us all the way but they get a helping hand, massively, by yet another penalty which is not a penalty.
"We had two midweek (against Norwich) and then the lad (Smith) has clearly dived. There is no contact at all in the penalty box and he gives a penalty."
However, Cherries boss Eddie Howe refused to condemn Smith for appearing to cheat.
"I'm not going to criticise my player before seeing it again," he said.
"Adam Smith is not that kind of player, for me it was a 50-50 call - it didn't look like a blatant decision."
Howe was disappointed with a first-half capitulation which ultimately proved their undoing.
"It was hugely disappointing at half-time," the ex-Burnley boss noted.
"We started really well for the first 10 minutes, looked in total control, then we conceded the first goal and, uncharacteristically for us, we didn't respond well to that.
"The second goal is a set-piece, the third goal is a set-piece and we found ourselves 3-0 down and rocking from that point. At half-time we regrouped and put in a very good performance.
"But it's another game we'll be kicking ourselves that we haven't got anything from. We've showed when we get it going we're a match for anyone, but you can't give good teams a three-goal start."