Higginbotham's volley laid the foundation for Stoke's well-earned victory
By Sam Sheringham
Stoke produced an outstanding display in Tony Pulis' 300th match in charge to leapfrog Blackburn in the table.
Danny Higginbotham opened the scoring with a sweet left-foot volley after Rovers failed to clear a corner.
And Mamady Sidibe tapped home the second from a Matthew Etherington cross in first-half stoppage-time.
Christopher Samba was sent off for a blatant tug on Ricardo Fuller before Etherington exchanged passes with Liam Lawrence and curled in the third.
Pulis will take great pride from a victory which ensures Stoke are still unbeaten in 2010, with eight points from four league games and FA Cup wins over York and Arsenal.
Pulis talks up duo's England chances
Meanwhile, Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce will be wondering how his side could produce such an anaemic display after an encouraging run of one defeat in six league games.
Pulis acknowledged the crowd's applause as he jogged his way to the dugout on his landmark match in two spells at the helm.
The Stoke boss made four changes to the side which played out an uninspiring goalless draw against Sunderland, with Andy Wilkinson, Lawrence, Rory Delap and Fuller all drafted into the starting line-up.
Stoke made the brighter start and grabbed the game's opening goal after only eight minutes.
Some tidy interplay between Fuller and Etherington won a corner on the left and, when Lawrence's delivery was only half-cleared, Higginbotham composed himself to lash a volley low into the net.
Blackburn almost scored with their first real opening against the run of play when Morten Gamst Pedersen's chipped cross presented Franco Di Santo with the simplest of headers, but the former Chelsea striker cleared the bar from six yards out.
Rovers began to impose themselves as the half wore on and bombarded the Stoke goal with a succession of corners.
Samba came closest to scoring but his header was cleared off the line by Dean Whitehead.
Predictably, both teams were at their most dangerous from set-pieces, and Stoke's second goal followed a trademark long throw from Delap.
The ball was cleared as far as Etherington, who cut inside from the left and delivered a cross to the far post, where Sidibe stole ahead of his marker and tucked the ball home from close-range.
The home side continued to dictate things in the second period with most of the play orchestrated by the outstanding Etherington.
His corner presented Ryan Shawcross with a free header, which Paul Robinson kept out with a brilliant one-handed save.
Moments later, Rovers were down to 10 men when Samba was shown a second yellow as he held back Fuller while the striker was looking to break into space.
Big decisions went against us - Allardyce
Robinson produced another excellent stop to keep out a Fuller header before Etherington put the result beyond doubt with a fine goal.
The diminutive winger dribbled in from the left flank, played a textbook one-two with Lawrence, before checking and curling the ball just inside Robinson's far post.
His final shot was slightly scuffed but the goal was richly deserved from a man who is now the club's joint top-scorer with five and has created more than 30% of his team's goals this season.
Stoke took their foot off the pedal for the last 20 minutes as their army of fans basked in the glory of a performance worthy of an occasion billed as Sir Stanley Matthews Day in honour of the club legend.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis on Etherington: "I don't think I have to talk Matty up any more, his performances speak for themselves.
If he was at a different club a lot more people would be talking him up.
"Matty and Ryan Shawcross have both been outstanding - people have asked me about them and hopefully with a bit of luck, you never know."
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce: "The first goal is disappointing because we know how dangerous Stoke are from set-pieces.
"Then the ref misses a handball by Dean Whitehead on the line - that's a crucial decision that's gone against us.
"They've put the ball in the net twice and when we've had the opportunity to do that we haven't done it."
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