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Match Reports

Rovers 1 Newcastle Utd 0

Mulgrew downs Toon once more

2 January 2017

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Charlie Mulgrew's second half free-kick saw Rovers claim a league double over Newcastle United.

The Scottish international was the goal hero when the two sides met at St. James' Park some six weeks ago, and he followed that up with the winning strike in a tough encounter at Ewood.
The first half saw the Magpies have the better of the play, Mo Diame crashing an effort off the crossbar, before Jason Steele made fine saves to keep out Dwight Gayle and Yoan Gouffran.
Rovers had to withstand more pressure after the restart as Newcastle correctly saw two goals disallowed, then Steele was again imperious with a superb fingertip save to deny Ciaran Clark.
Sam Gallagher drove inches wide as Rovers started to get more joy further forward and that fine spell of play resulted in Marvin Emnes winning a 74th minute free-kick 20-yards out.
Mulgrew stepped up and drove the ball hard and low and into the bottom corner of the net.
Newcastle threw everything at Rovers in the closing stages, but the Blues withstood what came their way to clinch a famous league double over the promotion-chasers.
Rovers made two changes from the team that drew with Huddersfield Town on New Years Eve as Jason Lowe returned from suspension to captain the side, and Marvin Emnes returned to the starting line-up. Corry Evans, who picked up a knock on Saturday, and Sam Gallagher, the men to make way.
And it was Emnes who showed some lovely early touches to get the home side into good positions, but more often than not the delivery into the area was too close to Karl Darlow in the Newcastle goal, allowing him to claim comfortably.
At a chilly Ewood Park it wasn't until the 20th minute that either goal was meaningfully threatened. A driving run from Diame was followed by an equally impressive rasping drive, but the ball smashed off the crossbar and away to safety.
That prompted a spell of pressure from the visitors with Jason Steele much the busier of the two goalkeepers.
On 26 a Paul Dummett centre picked out Gayle who fired goalwards, the Rovers number one showing good anticipation to turn the ball behind.
Then a clever pass from Gouffran picked out Gayle on the turn, Steele with a smart stop at his near post.
As the first half drew to a close Rovers were forced into a change as Craig Conway limped off, Gallagher on as his replacement.
But there was still time for one last chance for the Magpies as Gouffran struck on the volley at the back post, but Steele was alert to ensure it would be goalless at the break.
French Under-21 international Gouffran was the first to chance his arm as the second half got underway with an effort from distance that saw Steele scrambling across his line to watch wide.
Whilst at the other end Gallagher connected with a Liam Feeney corner kick, but couldn't direct his header goalwards.
On 54 minutes the visitors thought they had grabbed the opening goal when Gayle got the merest of touches to a free-kick. But the league's top scorer was correctly flagged for being offside.
The ball was in the back of the Rovers net a second time soon afterwards, but Clark was adjudged to have handled before forcing it home.
The Magpies maintained the pressure with Steele forced into a fine fingertip save to keep out Clark who volleyed Diame's centre goalwards.
But as the clock ticked on Rovers were starting to gain more joy in the advanced positions, Gallagher inches wide with a shot following a driving run.
Then more positive play resulted in Jack Colback fouling Emnes 20-yards out, giving Rovers another opportunity which they would grab with both hands.
Mulgrew was the hero when the two sides met at the end of November, and he would repeat the feat with a well-struck free-kick that flew low beyond Darlow and into the bottom corner of the net to spark jubilant scenes.
Newcastle responded by throwing on three more attacking players in quick succession as Ayoze Perez, Christian Atsu and Daryl Murphy were introduced.
That lead to Rovers having to give up more possession to the opposition in the closing stages, but as ball after ball was sent into their box, the home side stood strong to keep them at bay to record another clean sheet and another three points.
ROVERS: Steele, Nyambe (sub Evans 64 mins), Greer, Mulgrew, Williams, Feeney, Lowe (c), Akpan, Conway (sub Gallagher 43 mins), Emnes (sub Brown 90+3 mins), Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Stokes, Mahoney, Bennett.
Goals: Mulgrew 74 mins.
Booked: Lowe 53 mins.
NEWCASTLE: Darlow, Clark, Dummett, Colback (sub Perez 77 mins), Lascelles (c), Anita (sub Murphy 87 mins), Gayle, Ritchie, Hayden, Diame, Gouffran (sub Atsu 85 mins).
Subs not used: Sels (GK), Lazaar, Mbemba, Yedlin.
Goals: None.
Booked: Dummett 64 mins, Colback 73 mins.
Attendance: 18,524 (including 6943 visiting supporters)

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