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Match Reports

REPORT | Blackburn Rovers 0 Rovers 1

9 January 2021

Rovers book their place in the Emirates FA Cup fourth round and Taylor Richards' first half goal earns Rovers a win over Championship opponents Blackburn Rovers.
 
Darren Moore was without a number of players due to the lingering impact of the COVID-19 cases and isolation period and named a holding midfield duo of Reece James and Brad Halliday with Joe Wright and Cameron John taking up the right back and left back roles respectively. There were also starts for the week’s new arrivals Elliot Simoes and Elliot Balcombe. 

It took Rovers a few minutes to shake off the rust from 18 days without a game and saw very little of the ball in the opening exchanges, however – a Ben Brereton half-chance which was blocked by Tom Anderson aside – the hosts didn’t use their dominant start with any real purpose and it was Rovers who carved out the best early chances. 

A one-two between Taylor Richards and Tyreece John-Jules cut through the Blackburn defence to release the Arsenal loanee into the opposition box, but keeper Aynsley Pears was off his line quickly to thwart the effort. Just three minutes later, the two linked up again this time John-Jules sliding a ball through for Richards. The midfielder tried to find the far corner but could only guide it wide of the post. 

The home side hit back with a couple of half-chances of their own. Brereton’s effort from the edge of the box was lifted comfortably over the bar while Bradley Dack’s free kick was hit with dip and pace but was off target by a whisker. 

Blackburn continued to dominate possession although the final ball into the box tended to find the Anderson and Andy Butler. Both sides struggled to get any real momentum with plenty of turnovers and misplaced passes in key areas of the pitch. 

Pressure looked like it might start to tell for the Championship club as they carved out their best chance of the first half just after the half-hour mark when Tom Trybull’s ball was fired across the face of goal towards the back-post. It evaded everyone from both sides leaving Rovers players breathing a sigh of relief. 

Richards who, along with John-Jules had looked most likely to unpick the Blackburn defence in the opening exchanges, gave Rovers the lead just before half-time. He was given free reign of the middle of the park, marauding forward unchallenged and firing a low, driven effort across the goal which nestled inside the far post.  

The second half followed the pattern of the first with the Championship side boasting the lion’s share of possession and Rovers looking to take advantage on the break. Blackburn did seem to be playing with more urgency and very nearly took the lead from a corner. The delivery caused Rovers all sorts of problems eventually seeing Anderson head against his own post before the ball was cleared. Dack then fired wide and Harvey Elliott – a second half introduction – steered his shot from distance wide of the near post. 

Rovers hit back on the counterattack a few times – Fejiri Okenabirhie had the best of the chances from the breaks but his effort was straight at Pears. 

Blackburn continued to turn the screw and it took a sensational double save from close range by Balcombe on his Rovers debut to keep out first Elliott and then Dack from close range and retain Rovers lead heading into the final 15 minutes. 

Defensive heroics continued for Rovers and a stand-out block by Anderson thwarted substitute Adam Armstrong's shot while Brereton sent another shot into the stands and Joe Rothwell wasted a good chance from close range.

Despite the pressure, Rovers were able to hold strong and book their place in Monday's fourth round draw.


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