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Match Reports

Match Report : 21/10/2014

21 October 2014

Report: Rovers 1 Birmingham City 0

For the second time in four days Ben Marshall was Rovers' hero as his second half strike secured all three points against Birmingham City.

The Rovers midfielder grabbed his fifth of the season with a near-post strike on 51 minutes.

An even first half saw both sides miss great chances to score at a chilly Ewood Park. Corry Evans missing in front of goal after Jordan Rhodes' centre, before Clayton Donaldson curled an effort beyond the far post.

But it was the second period where the game really came to life with Rovers, and Marshall, simply unplayable as he cut into the area to fire home.

Birmingham's chances of a response was then made all the more difficult when Neil Eardley saw red for two bookable offences in quick succession.

Goalkeeper Colin Doyle, making his first league start since the end of the 2011/12 season, had a superb match. Time after time he kept Rovers at bay as the Birmingham goal lived a charmed life, especially after Tom Cairney somehow saw a shot deflect against the post as players queued up to score.

In the end their profligacy in front of goal almost proved costly as Andrew Shinnie slammed an injury-time effort against the bar, but Rovers saw out the remaining minutes to claim the points.

Rovers made two changes from the side that started the 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Saturday.

Following their appearance as substitutes at the weekend, Adam Henley and Alex Baptiste both came into the starting XI. They replaced  the suspended Matt Kilgallon and Craig Conway who dropped to the bench.

Those changes meant Ben Marshall moved from right back to left wing with Henley occupying the full back position.

Despite the freezing conditions it was a lively start at Ewood Park with both sides spurning opportunities to open the scoring inside the first ten minutes.

A Tom Cairney ball down the channel saw Jordan Rhodes race away down the right, his ball across the box picked out Corry Evans but the Irishman somehow missed the ball with the goal at his mercy.

The visitors then went straight up the other end to fashion a chance of their own. A lofted ball over the top saw striker Clayton Donaldson beat the offside trap, his effort across goal going inches past the post.

Donaldson then headed a David Cotterill free-kick over, before Cairney couldn't pick out Rudy Gestede after keeper Colin Doyle couldn't hold Markus Olsson's centre.

After that early flurry of chances the game settled down into a pattern of possession for Rovers with the visitors looking threatening on the break. On one such occasion Koby Arthur found space on the right, but his low shot across goal was well claimed by Jason Steele.

The Rovers goalkeeper was then called upon to make another important save just past the half hour. A Donaldson cross from the right somehow found it's way over to the left to where midfielder Paul Caddis let fly. Steele, making his 150th league appearance, flung himself to the left to tip the ball over the bar.

Saturday's hero Ben Marshall was then involved in a trio of chances for the home side. The first a free-kick from 35 yards that just cleared the bar. Then he popped up on the right to cross for Gestede who couldn't direct his effort on target, before trying his luck from distance - Colin Doyle in the Birmingham goal claiming comfortably.

Jordan Rhodes fired wide as the half drew to a close, but despite both sides showing plenty of attacking intent, it was goalless at the break.

The start of the second half saw Rovers come out of the blocks quickly which ultimately earned it's reward of the opening goal.

Early attacks down either flank had served notice, but when Rhodes battled well to spread play to the left to Marshall once more, he took the ball onto his right foot before catching out Birmingham goalkeeper Doyle at his near side with a shot in off the post.

A mix-up between Duffy and Steele almost allowed the visitors to level straight away, but the Rovers goalkeeper redeemed himself with brilliant save low to deny Caddis.

The visitors were then reduced to ten men after Neil Eardley saw red for two bookable offences in the space of eight minutes.

The first a late challenge on Marshall just inside the Birmingham half, the second a cynical pull on Markus Olsson as the Swede looked to race into the box.

Rovers almost doubled their advantage from the resulting free-kick, as Cairney sent the ball to the back post, Duffy got his head to it but couldn't direct it on target.

Moments later Birmingham goalkeeper Doyle then pulled off a stunning double save. First denying Marshall at his near post before racing across to thwart Cairney with the goal at his mercy.

Markus Olsson was fingertips away from grabbing his first of the season and Rovers' second of the game as he let fly. Doyle, again saving brilliantly to turn the shot behind.

The visitors introduced forward Wes Thomas for Demarai Gray, whilst David Dunn replaced Rudy Gestede.

Both players were quickly involved, Thomas saw a stinging shot beaten away by Steele before Dunn somehow fired over from six yards out.

Through Marshall, Rovers continued to torment Birmingham with the opposition goal living a charmed life. After more dazzling wing play from the goalscorer, Cairney saw a shot deflect onto the post, the ball rebounded back to the Rover but he couldn't force it home.

Cairney then turned provider with a lovely through ball for Luke Varney, but with his first touch of the ball after replacing Rhodes, he blazed over the bar.

More neat approach play saw Corry Evans fire narrowly over, but as Rovers looked to see out the remaining minutes with controlled possession, they very nearly handed Birmingham an unlikely share of the points.

As Rovers played the ball back to Jason Steele to clear upfield, it found it's way to substitute Andrew Shinnie and the Birmingham man hit a thunderbolt of a shot from distance, the ball slamming against the underside of the crossbar and away to safety much to the relief of all of a blue and white persuasion.

After that scare Rovers ensured there was to be no further drama as they kept the ball as far away from the opposing goal as possible, seeing out time to claim a welcome three points.

ROVERS: Steele, Henley, Baptiste, Duffy, Olsson, Cairney, Evans, Williamson, Marshall, Gestede (sub Dunn 66 mins), Rhodes (c) (sub Varney 80 mins).

Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), King, Taylor, Tunnicliffe, Conway.

Goals: Marshall 51 mins.

Booked: Gestede, Duffy.

BIRMINGHAM: Doyle, Eardley, Grounds, Robinson (c), Edgar, Gleeson, Donaldson, Cotterill (sub Shinnie 80 mins), Arthur (sub Reilly 71 mins), Caddis, Gray (sub Thomas 64 mins).

Subs: Trueman (GK), Novak, Packwood, Hall.

Goals: None.

Booked: Eardley.

Off: Eardley.

Attendance: 12,852 (including 510 visiting supporters)

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