Tuesday night saw Blackburn Rovers made a quick return to winning ways following defeat to Fulham at the weekend, as Tony Mowbray’s side ran out 3-0 winners over Hull City at Ewood Park.
Having dominated the vast majority of the game, Rovers would have to wait until the 73rd minute to take the lead, when Darragh Lenihan stabbed home from close range in amongst a goalmouth scramble created by Stewart Downing’s corner.
Five minutes later, two quickfire goals from Adam Armstrong – another stunning strike outside the area for the 23-year-old – and Dominic Samuel, his first competitive goal since December 2017 after an injury-hit 18 months, put the game to bed for Rovers.
But while those latter two goals will get much of the attention for those varying reasons, it was Lenihan who made an equally big contribution by getting the ball rolling with that opener.
The 25-year-old also played a big part in his more natural defensive role on Tuesday night, helping his side to keep a tenth clean sheet of the season against Hull.
So just how good was Lenihan for Rovers in that win?
Here, we put the spotlight on the Irishman’s performance in that match, in order to find out.
Just as he has been whenever available this season, Lenihan was once again an ever-present in the side for Rovers on Tuesday night, and the stats certainly seem to suggest that Mowbray’s faith in the defender is not misplaced.
Not for the first time in recent weeks, Lenihan came up with a big contribution in the opposition penalty area, showing a clinical touch to force the ball past a number of bodies to give his a well-deserved and all-important lead against the Tigers.
That goal was Lenihan’s third in his last five games, a recent return made all the more impressive by the fact that he had scored just four goals in the 149 appearances he made for the club prior to that run he is currently on.
What was just as important for Rovers on Tuesday night, was Lenihan’s performance in his more natural central defensive position.
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With nine aerial duels won across the course of the 90 minutes, no player on the pitch was more effective in the air than Lenihan, while the Irishman’s four clearances was the most of any Blackburn man, highlighting just how effective he was in restricting Hull’s chance to pose a threat in and around the Rovers area.
It wasn’t just in preventing Hull from taking and creating chances that Lenihan proved effective on Tuesday night, with his supply for those further forward just as impressive.
Only Lenihan’s central defensive Tosin Adarabioyo attempted more passes (98) than the 91 that the Irishman attempted, with the fact that more than 90% of those passes found a teammate showing just how reliable the defender is with the ball at his feet, giving Rovers a reliable option with which to play out from the back should they wish to do so.
The past few seasons, Lenihan has become one of Rovers’ most influential and vital defender in the eyes of many, and performances such as this will surely only strengthen his position as a key figure in that back four, not least thanks to that aforementioned recent addition of goals to his game.