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Match Reports

Match Report : 31/01/2015

31 January 2015

Report: Rovers 2 Fulham 1

Jordan Rhodes netted his 10th league goal of the season as Rovers completed a Championship double over Fulham with a 2-1 win.

Ben Marshall opened the scoring at Ewood Park on 12 minutes, before Rhodes headed home the decisive goal shortly after the hour mark. 

Ross McCormack bagged a consolation goal for the visitors, as Rovers got back to winning ways in the Championship.

Following his loan switch from Bolton just 24 hours earlier, Jay Spearing made a very assured debut in the middle of the park, as Rovers made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Derby County in midweek.

Spearing's inclusion meant that Jason Lowe started at right-back, with Alex Baptiste dropping to the bench.

Rhodes, who scored the winner at Craven Cottage back in September, and Chris Brown started up front, with Josh King (back) and Tom Cairney (groin), making way. Rudy Gestede (thigh) and David Dunn (calf) also missed out.

In more positive news, Tommy Spurr made the 18-man squad for the first time this season after recovering from double groin surgery. Ryan Tunnicliffe, who spent the first half of the season on loan at Rovers from Fulham, lined up for the visitors.

The first chance of the match fell to Fulham and Rovers had Jason Steele to thank for keeping the scores level. Striker Hugo Rodallega slipped in Ashley Richards and his close-range effort was matched by the Rovers stopper.

Rovers took the lead soon after, following some persistence from Marshall. The winger latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area, skipped past Shaun Hutchinson and finished low past Marcus Bettinelli for his seventh goal of the season.

Another chance followed and Marshall was once again involved - his cross found Rhodes, who controlled the ball on his chest before firing a volley straight at the keeper.

Fulham spurned a gilt-edged chance to level on 18 minutes when captain Scott Parker played in Cauley Woodrow, but his effort from a promising position was wide of Steele's left-hand post.

McCormack was next to try his luck a minute later when he fired over from Richards' cut-back from the right wing.

Rovers were a whisker away from doubling their lead on 25 minutes when Rhodes moved the ball inside to Marshall on the edge of the area, and he in turn played in Craig Conway, who hit a sublime curling strike across goal that cannoned back off the far post.

After a lull in play, the visitors had a chance of their own when Rodallega's precise lofted pass found strike partner McCormack in the box, but his shot was wild and well wide of the right post.

A minute later and Rovers went close, but Brown could only find the side-netting from Conway's cross to the back post.

As the game toed and froed, Fulham were inches away from finding an equaliser, as Lasse Vigen Christensen nodded a close-range header agonisingly wide.

Rovers almost made it 2-0 less than a minute into the second half, but Rhodes' header from Markus Olsson's cross was narrowly wide.

Just a few minutes later and another Rhodes header from Conway's free-kick sailed just over.

However, on 61 minutes, it was third time lucky for the Scottish star. Just seconds after Marshall had penalty appeals waved away, Olsson delivered a pin-point cross from the left and Rhodes got in front of his marker to head home at the near post.

Some nimble footwork in the area on 65 minutes from Brown set up Conway to shoot, but his powerful effort was well over the bar.

Seconds later and Fulham almost pulled one back. A cut-back from the byline found Woodrow, who smashed an effort against the crossbar.

Rovers did not heed those warnings and inside the same minute, the deficit was halved - McCormack finishing from two yards out from Christensen's low right-wing cross.

On 78 minutes and Brown had his best chance of the match, firing a header into the grateful hands of Bettinelli from Marshall's cross.

Four minutes later, Conway won a 50-50 and raced forward, before unleashing a thunderous effort from 25 yards that Bettinelli palmed away and Rhodes headed the rebound over the bar.

Rovers saw out the remaining minutes with ease to claim their first league win since mid-December and narrow the gap on the top six.

ROVERS: Steele, Lowe, Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Olsson, Marshall (Taylor 84), Evans, Spearing (Cairney 84), Conway, Brown, Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood, Baptiste, Duffy, Spurr, Varney. 

Goals: Marshall 12, Rhodes 61.

FULHAM: Bettinelli, Stafylidis, Hutchinson, Bodurov, Parker (c) (Fofana 83), Woodrow (Dembele 75), Tunnicliffe, Rodallega (Kacaniklic 62), Christensen, Richards, McCormack.
Subs not used: Kiraly, Roberts, Burn, Grimmer.

Goal: McCormack 66.

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