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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 1 Aston Villa 0

29 April 2017

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Rovers will take the fight for survival to the final day after a 1-0 win over Aston Villa.

On a nervy afternoon at Ewood Park, Danny Graham's second half strike - his 13th of the campaign - meant Rovers collected what could be a hugely important three points.

The first half saw Rovers lay siege to the Villa goal but they couldn't make the most of their chances. Derrick Williams and Ryan Nyambe both went close, whilst Graham should have done better with a chance just before the break.

Rovers remained on the front foot at the start of the second half, finally getting their reward on 54 minutes.

Good anticipation from Jason Lowe saw him intercept a ball out of defence and the captain laid the ball on a plate for Graham to slide home.

Whilst the win sees Rovers remain in the bottom three, they know they have everything to play for next Sunday at Brentford.

It was a fast and frenetic opening at Ewood with Rovers looking to gain an early advantage.

Taking the game to Villa from the off, Rovers created a host of openings, but were unable to make them count.

On 12 minutes a cross-field pass from Darragh Lenihan picked out Derrick Williams, his centre found Danny Guthrie, but on the stretch he put his half-volley just past the post.

A minute later a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick dropped at the feet of Sam Gallagher but he snatched at the chance and fired wide.

Rovers continued to press, Lenihan with a shot from a corner that deflected behind, before Williams found the same side of the goal with a right-footed effort after cutting inside.

The unlikely figure of Ryan Nyambe then twice threatened the visitors' goal. The young defender raced into the area but saw his near-post shot turned behind. Then on 38 minutes a Williams centre found Nyambe with sight of goal once more but Sam Johnstone made an impressive close-range save low down to his right. Rovers unable to force home the rebound.

His opposite number David Raya had seen little involvement but was twice called into action as the half drew to a close. The young Spaniard diving to his left to keep out a Jonathan Kodjia strike, before comfortably saving a Henri Lansbury free-kick.

After dominating the first half, Rovers should have gone in at the break in front. But with the last act of the half Graham found himself in on goal, but failed to connect with the ball and the chance was gone.

Rovers started the second half in the same manner displayed in the first.

Again it was both wing-backs impressing as Williams raced into the box, he stood the ball up to the back post but it was just a whisker too high for Nyambe to connect with.

But those groans were soon turned to cheers as Rovers grabbed the all-important goal on 54 minutes.

With little pressure on, Nathan Baker was lax with a ball out of defence, and Jason Lowe showed good anticipation to intercept to turn defence into attack.

The Rovers captain made good use of the space in front of him and then picked out the perfect pass for Danny Graham, who from the penalty spot, slipped the ball into the corner of the net for his 13th, and most important, goal of the season.

Aston Villa responded by throwing on derby-day hero Gabby Agbonlahor, but the veteran striker was rarely involved as Rovers snuffed out any danger from the visiting attack.

Instead it was Rovers searching for a second. A deep cross from Gallagher was just beyond the free-running Williams, before the Player of the Year couldn't connect with yet another dangerous corner from Charlie Mulgrew.

After keeping their council for the final 15 minutes, Rovers could have doubled their lead in the final minute of added time.

Catching Villa on the break substitute Lucas Joao raced forward before exchanging passes with Craig Conway, but the Portuguese put his effort just past the post.

Results elsewhere mean Rovers remain in the bottom three only on goal difference. Meaning a final day showdown at Griffin Park, Brentford next Sunday.

ROVERS: Raya, Lenihan, Ward, Mulgrew, Nyambe, Guthrie, Lowe (c) (sub Akpan 87 mins), Williams, Bennett, Graham (sub Conway 75 mins), Gallagher (sub Joao 90+2 mins).

Subs not used: Steele (GK), Hoban, Emnes, Mahoney.

Goals: Graham 54 mins

Booked: None

ASTON VILLA: Johnstone, Baker, Taylor, Lansbury (sub Agbonlahor 64 mins), Bacuna, Hogan, Chester (c), Hourihane (sub Grealish 72 mins), Hutton, Gardner, Kodjia (sub Adomah 72 mins).

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Elphick, Bree, Amavi.

Goals: None

Booked: None

Attendance: 21,884 (including 6385 visiting supporters)

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