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Match Reports

Match Report : 03/05/2014

3 May 2014

Rovers 4 Wigan Athletic 3

Rovers ended the 2013-14 season with a pulsating 4-3 victory over Wigan Athletic at Ewood Park.

They went into the game with an outside chance of making the top six, but although results elsewhere ensured it wasn't to be it was certainly a thrilling way to end the campaign.

A stunning start saw Tom Cairney open the scoring but Ivan Ramis drew the visitors level almost immediately. Moments later Rudy Gestede powered Rovers back in front.

April's Player of the Year got back amongst the goals with a trademark header to ensure Rovers lead 3-1 at the break, it could have been more.

The second half saw James McClean make it 3-2, but Jordan Rhodes, who saw a goal chalked off early, finally got one of his own to notch his 25th of the campaign, heading home yet another Craig Conway centre.

Nicky Maynard's 87th minute strike gave the visitors hope and Rovers some nerves, but they held out to claim the victory.

The win sees Gary Bowyer's side end the campaign 12 unbeaten with a very welcome hat-trick of victories.

For the final game of the 2013-14 league season Rovers boss Gary Bowyer named an unchanged starting eleven. Keeping faith with the side that defeated Charlton Athletic 3-1, the only changes were on the substitute's bench as Jason Lowe and David Dunn returned from injury.

For the visitors, with their play-off place already assured, they made seven changes from the side that defeated Birmingham City in midweek, just Scott Carson, Gary Caldwell, Rob Kiernan and Martyn Waghorn keeping their place.

After a tight opening Rovers should have taken an 11th minute lead. Joshua King, who had already tested the Wigan defence with his pace, raced into the area to square for Jordan Rhodes but he took a touch before shooting enabling Scott Carson to make the block.

That disappointment lasted barely 90 seconds as Rovers struck. Tom Cairney, voted the supporters' Player of the Season ahead of kick-off, danced his way through the Wigan defence before cooly slotting home with a right-foot shot that went in off the post.

However he lead lasted just four minutes as Wigan hit straight back Ivan Ramis heading home a Martyn Waghorn corner. Maynard heading against the crossbar with the Latics defender making sure the ball had crossed the line.

Just two minutes later and Rovers were back in front, Craig Conway tormenting the Latics defence before squaring for Player of the Month Rudy Gestede and he planted the ball beyond Carson for his 12th of the season.

In a frantic first half Rovers had the ball in the net once more as Jordan Rhodes headed home a Craig Conway free-kick, but the official on the nearside spotted an infringement and ruled the goal out.

Only a fantastic save from Scott Carson prevented Rovers from scoring again, Conway again the provider, Rhodes with a bullet of a header but the Latics' keeper tipped the ball over the bar.

It was pulsating stuff and the atmosphere was raised up a notch when Rudy Gestede grabbed his second of the game, again Conway the provider the striker making no mistake with his 10th header of the season.

Wigan were far from finished and they continued to pose a threat in the final third. James McClean almost pulled a goal back with a shot that whistled past the far post, before Nicky Maynard was twice denied. The first, a shot on the turn that deflected wide off Matt Kilgallon, the second, hooked off the line by Grant Hanley.

It was a breathless first half with countless chances for both sides, results elsewhere at half-time meant if Rovers could score four more and the scorelines remained as they were at Nottingham and Reading then the dream was very much on, alas that wasn't to last.

Kicking towards the Blackburn End in the second half Rovers went at Wigan in search of further goals, Tom Cairney going close with a deflected effort before Josh King stung the gloves of Scott Carson with a well struck shot.

But just before the hour mark it was the visitors who scored once more. A centre from Josh McEachran was diverted into the path of James McClean and he volleyed home emphatically.

Rovers roared back, Rudy Gestede a whisker away from grabbing a hat-trick as he powered a header against the crossbar, Jordan Rhodes unfortunate to see his overhead kick go over the bar as he followed up.

Play continued towards Carson's goal, the Wigan number one pulling off a fantastic save to deny Cairney once more, before Rhodes' shot on the turn was beaten away.

With six minutes to go Rovers grabbed a fourth goal their play deserved. As ever it was a Craig Conway delivery, this time it was Jordan Rhodes who met the ball and he made no mistake to head home his 25th goal of yet another sensational campaign in a blue and white shirt.

Nicky Maynard made it a nervy ending for Rovers as he pulled yet another goal back, whilst Paul Robinson tipped over a goalbound header from substitute Shaun Maloney.

Rovers could have scored more, Gestede blazing over after good work from Liam Feeney, but they were able to see out the remaining minutes to ensure a successful end to the season.

It meant that Rovers ended the campaign on a high, a first hat-trick of victories since 2008 and a 12 match unbeaten run ensuring plenty to look forward to.

ROVERS: Robinson; Keane, Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Olsson; King (sub Feeney 80 mins), Evans (sub Lowe 73 mins), Cairney, Conway; Gestede, Rhodes.

Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Dunn, Varney, Williamson, Taylor.

Goals: Cairney 13 mins, Gestede 19, 35 mins, Rhodes 84 mins.

Booked: Hanley, Gestede, Kilgallon.

WIGAN ATHLETIC: Carson, Ramis (sub Barnett 46 mins), Caldwell (c) (sub Holgersson 72 mins), Kiernan, Crainey, McEachran, Collison, Espinoza, McClean, Maynard, Waghorn (sub Maloney 65 mins).

Subs not used: Al Habsi (GK), McManaman, Beausejour, Fortune.

Goals: Ramis 17 mins, McClean 59 mins, Maynard 87 mins.

Booked: McClean, Crainey.

Attendance: 16,996 (including 2076 visiting supporters)

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