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Match Report


Posted Tue 01 Mar 16 at 21:45 PM

Report: Rovers 2 Middlesbrough 1

Rovers made it three home league wins on the trot with a pulsating 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.

After a competitive yet goalless first half, it was Hope Akpan who headed the home side in front two minutes into the second period.

With the Rovers defence and Jason Steele in goal outstanding, the returning Jordan Rhodes was kept at bay.

Instead it was former Boro youngster Danny Graham who stole the show, capping a man-of-the-match performance with an 83rd goal to double Rovers advantage.

Adam Forshaw netted for the visitors in added time, but all thoughts of a nervy ending were quashed as the Rovers saw out the remaining minutes to claim a fully deserved three points.

Paul Lambert made three changes from the side that defeated MK Dons on Saturday.

With Corry Evans missing through injury, Hope Akpan came in to replace him, whilst Matt Grimes and Tony Watt got the nod ahead of Elliott Bennett and Chris Brown.

The visitors made two changes from their weekend win as George Friend and Jordan Rhodes replaced Emilio Nsue and Gaston Ramirez, and it was the former Rover Rhodes who was lively early on.

After five minutes he swept a first-time ball out to the right to Albert Adomah who cut inside to shoot, but it was comfortable for Jason Steele.

Then as Watt expected the whistle to blow for a foul by Grant Leadbitter, the visitors hit the ball forward, Grant Hanley mis-judged his back pass and Rhodes stole in, but Steele was alert to the danger to make a fantastic interception with an outstretched arm.

In swirling wind and driving rain, Rovers grew into the half, Akpan heading over a Grimes corner kick.

Suddenly it was the side in blue and white seeing more of the ball, neat approach play saw Grimes find Watt whose centre was put over his own bar by Dael Fry. Grimes took the corner, Dimi Konstantopoulos only punched half-clear, Watt let fly with a left-footed volley but the ball flashed over the bar.

Another centre, this time from Tommy Spurr, saw Boro struggle once more as Fry again sliced over. Grimes again with the dangerous delivery cleared as far as Ben Marshall but Shane Duffy couldn't direct his centre on target.

Rovers continued to take the game to the promotion-chasers as the clocked ticked towards the break, but despite good work in possession, they only had a 35-yard Darragh Lenihan drive to show for it, which Konstantopoulos claimed at the second attempt.

But as well as Rovers had played in the first half, the second half couldn't have started any better.

Watt and Lenihan combined to find Grimes on the left and his peach of a cross picked out Akpan who powered his header back across the keeper and into the far corner of the net.

It was the Nigerian's third goal of the season, all three of them headers at Ewood Park.

The visitors looked to hit back immediately with Rovers grateful for two important saves by Steele. As the ball broke through for Rhodes the keeper made the initial stop and then kept out the striker on the follow-up.

That prompted a spell of pressure from Middlesbrough, but Stewart Downing and Adam Forshaw were well off target. Whilst David Nugent saw a shot deflect wide.

Rovers replaced the hardworking Watt with Simeon Jackson, whilst Elliott Bennett came on for Jordi Gomez. But a Jackson clearance inadvertently rebounded off Marshall to send Rhodes clear, but Steele did enough at his near post to prevent the ball crossing the line.

With seven minutes to go Rovers stretched their advantage with a deserved goal from Danny Graham.

The former Middlesbrough player had worked tirelessly up front all night, and as Steele sent a long ball forward, Jackson nodded on and the striker showed great strength to hold off his marker before deftly flicking the ball into the bottom corner of the net to spark jubilant scenes.

However an Adam Forshaw goal a minute into five at the end of the ninety meant a needlessly nervy ending for those of a blue and white persuasion. The Middlesbrough midfielder somehow bundling his way through a host of bodies to find the bottom corner of the net.

But whilst Boro threw everything at Rovers in the remaining moments, the home side kept possession well to prevent any further alarm to claim a fully deserved three points.

ROVERS: Steele, Marshall, Duffy, Hanley (c), Spurr,  J. Gomez (sub Bennett 78 mins), Lenihan, Akpan, Grimes (sub Conway 81 mins), Watt (sub Jackson 66 mins), Graham.

Subs not used: Raya (GK), Henley, Brown, Ward.

Goals: Akpan 47 mins, Graham 83 mins.

Booked: Spurr, Lenihan, Jackson.

MIDDLESBROUGH: Konstantopoulos, Leadbitter (c) (sub Clayton 53 mins), de Laet, Adomah, Friend, Forshaw, Fry, Nugent (sub Stuani 86 mins), Gibson, Rhodes, Downing (sub Ramirez 64 mins).

Subs not used: Mejias (GK), De Pena, Nsue, Kalas.

Goals: Forshaw 90+1 mins.

Booked: Stuani.

Attendance: 16,601 (including 3759 visiting supporters).

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