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29 March 2018 Venue Ewood Park Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 2 Bradford City 0

Dack and Conway goals earn Rovers the points at Ewood Park against the Bantams on Thursday night

29 March 2018

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Two second half goals sealed another victory for Rovers who returned top of the table with a comfortable victory against Bradford City at Ewood Park.

Bradley Dack's 16th of the season set Rovers on their way before substitute Craig Conway bagged a second with time running out as Tony Mowbray's hosts made it six wins from their last eight, with just eight games remaining this season.

Dack - playing for the 200th time in his league career - latched onto a fine Corry Evans pass to slot past Colin Doyle midway through the second half before Conway did similar with nine minutes to go to send Rovers to the League One summit.

It was a deserved victory for Mowbray's men who dominated for large periods of the match and could have scored more goals for their efforts.

The win was even more impressive considering talismen Charlie Mulgrew and Danny Graham were both left out of the squad in two of four changes for the first game in 19 days.

Coming in to the team were Amari'i Bell, Evans, Marcus Antonsson and Dominic Samuel.

The quartet replaced Mulgrew, Ryan Nyambe, Graham and Jack Payne in the XI for the visit of the Simon Grayson's side.

Both Mulgrew and Graham were left out of the squad, with the latter having a back problem, which ruled him out of action.

For the visitors, Grayson welcomed back star striker Charlie Wyke from suspension in their only change.

Both Wyke and Tony McMahon played under Mowbray before at Middlesbrough, whilst two ex-Rovers lined up in Claret and Amber with Matt Kilgallon and Stephen Warnock returning to Ewood Park.

Only two minutes in and Rovers worked the first opportunity, which came through stand in skipper Elliott Bennett, who pounced on a lose ball eight yards out but saw Kilgallon there to block his low effort.

It was an encouraging start from the hosts and Nathaniel Knight-Percival was very fortunate not to see a red card after only seven minutes when he - as last man - hauled down the returning Samuel. Referee Chris Sarginson deemed a yellow card for the defender would suffice.

It was all Rovers in the opening stages and Evans saw Colin Doyle in the way to deny Rovers from taking the lead on 14 minutes.

A few moments later and Antonsson really should have scored, but headed inches past the post after an excellent Richie Smallwood delivery from a free kick.

Rovers continued to dominate and a goalmouth scramble resulted in chaos, with Derrick Williams’ header hacked off the line, then Antonsson had a shot smothered by Doyle before Dack’s cross took a deflection and looped onto the bar and away from danger.

An early substitution was required just before the half hour mark as Darragh Lenihan picked up a back injury and had to be replaced by Paul Downing, who returned to action for the first time in just over a month.

Samuel and Armstrong linked up only for the loanee to fire wide of Doyle’s left-hand post as Rovers looked to continue on the front foot.

Striker Samuel was again involved just a couple of minutes before half time as he beat Warnock with ease but saw Doyle hold onto his low strike.

It was a really good first half display from Rovers, but their dominance wasn’t rewarded with a goal and both sides went into the dressing rooms on an equal footing.

The hosts started the second half as brightly as the first and Armstrong couldn't swivel in time to hit Dack's corner towards goal just four minutes after the break.

Antonsson prodded wide at the near post after a neat one-two with Armstrong as the hosts continued to search for the elusive opener.

Evans, who had a terrific game, had a great chance to change that when the ball perfectly fell his way in the box but the left-footed strike was blocked excellently by Kilgallon. 

Antonsson was next to try his luck with 25 minutes to go before Armstrong dragged wide when played in by substitute Payne as Rovers upped the ante.

And that breakthrough did finally come with 23 minutes to go, and it came through the deadly Dack, who latched onto the end of a lovely through ball by Evans to confidently and cooly beat Doyle to chalk up his 16th goal of the season.

It was just about to turn into a nervy final 10 minutes but substitute after fine work from Dack and Armstrong saw the striker's shot deflect into the path of substitute Conway, whose first touch of the game got the ball out of his feet before the Scot tucked home by beating Doyle at his near post.

Bradford's response saw Omari Patrick fire well wide in Bantams' first strike towards Raya's goal on 83 minutes.

A few minutes later and Patrick again had a chance to pull one back but nodded comfortably over Raya's upright with three minutes to go.

Conway went close late on to add to his and the home side's tally, but at this stage of the season, points are more important than performances and Rovers got them to leapfrog Wigan and Shrewsbury in the League One table and move into 1st place in the division.

Don't forget that Rovers are back in action on Easter Monday when we head down to Milton Keynes Dons in Sky Bet League One. Tickets remain available for the clash against Dan Micciche's men and can be purchased by clicking here.
 

Rovers: Raya, Bennett (c), Lenihan (Downing, 29), Williams, Bell, Smallwood, Evans, Antonsson (Antonsson, 79), Dack, Armstrong, Samuel (Payne, 65).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Whittingham, Nuttall, Caddis.

Goal: Dack, 67, Conway, 81

Booked: Bell, 69

Bradford: Doyle, Kilgallon, Vincelot, Law, Wyke, Poleon (Patrick, 64), Warnock, Gilliead (McCartan, 64), Guy, Knight-Percival, McMahon.

Substitutes: Raeder, Chicksen, Dieng, Devine, Grodowski.

Booked: Knight-Percival, 7

Attendance: 13,443 (1,642 away)

Referee: Chris Sarginson

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