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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 1 Birmingham 1

21 January 2017

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The points were shared at Ewood Park as Rovers and Birmingham City played out an entertaining 1-1 draw.

The visitors stunned the home crowd by taking a third minute lead. Lukas Jutkiewicz firing home from the penalty spot after Jason Steele had brought down David Cotterill.
But a change of formation brought about a change of fortune for Rovers and they deservedly drew level on the stroke of half-time as Danny Graham finished off a fine flowing move.
Through some dazzling wing play from Liam Feeney, Rovers enjoyed the better of the second half, but Sam Gallagher spurned the best chance when he fired over on 67.
But a fine save from Steele three minutes from time ensured it would be a point apiece as he tipped over Ryan Shotton's late header.
It was the visitors who were quickly into their stride at a chilly Ewood Park, pinning Rovers back from the off.
Inside two minutes Birmingham were awarded a penalty as a moment's hesitation proved costly for Steele and he subsequently brought down Cotterill in the area.
Jutkiewicz stepped up and hit the ball to Steele's left, and although the Rovers keeper got something on the ball it wasn't enough to prevent it rolling into the opposite corner of the goal. 
Boosted by their early opener Birmingham pressed for a second, Steele atoning for his earlier error with a fantastic save to thwart Cotterill after Che Adams played him in on goal.
New signing Gary Gardner fired narrowly over with an ambitious effort, before Jonathan Grounds headed wide at the back post from a Cotterill corner.
In a bid to stem the flow of attacks from the visitors, Rovers changed their formation to 4-3-3 with Elliott Bennett moving into midfield behind a front three of Liam Feeney, Danny Graham and Sam Gallagher.
But they were then forced into a further change when Charlie Mulgrew limped off with a groin strain, Ryan Nyambe in as his replacement. Darragh Lenihan, who started at full back, moving to his more familiar position of centre-half.
The positional change paid dividends as Rovers dominated proceedings for the remainder of the first half.
Graham had the ball in the back of the net on 26 after Bennett did well to win the ball in centre of the park, but the striker was a fraction offside.
Then a deep cross from Liam Feeney found Hope Akpan at the back post but Tomasz Kuszczak just did enough to keep the header out.
Birthday boy Feeney was back on the attack down the right with another excellent delivery, but it was a touch too high for Graham and he couldn't keep his header down.
The chances kept on coming for Rovers, Kuszczak fumbled a long-range strike from Derrick Williams, before Graham glanced a Bennett ball just wide.
But in the final minute of three at the end of the half, Rovers got the goal that their improved showing had merited from what was a really well-worked team goal.
Graham laid the ball off to Gallagher who fed Akpan, the ball was then played out left to Williams, and as the defender centred, Graham was on hand to fire home from 12-yards.
Birmingham made a goalkeeping switch at the start of the second half as Adam Legzdins replaced Kuszczak, but the change didn't affect the visitors as like the first half it was they who went straight on the attack.
Cotterill was lively once more with a fierce shot from the corner of the area, the ball flashing inches wide of the far post.
Then a poor clearance from Lenihan saw Adams latch onto the ball, but his cross-shot went wide with Jutkiewicz just out of reach on the stretch.
As the clock wore on the game became increasingly stretched. With Feeney showing plenty of 
prowess down the right.
On 66 he crossed deep for Gallagher who nodded down for Graham, but Shotton just did enough to keep the Rovers striker away from goal, the ball came out to Akpan but he fired over the bar.
A minute later and Feeney was on the attack once more. Again the delivery was dangerous, Bennett seeing his header blocked, it came to Gallagher but whilst he lifted the ball over the keeper, he also lifted it over the bar.
Rovers continued to force the pace, with Feeney the driving force. But despite numerous dangerous balls played into the penalty area it just wouldn't drop for the home side.
But despite Rovers pressing for the winner, they were grateful for a fantastic save from Steele three minutes from time.
Ryan Shotton met Gardner's corner kick powerfully, but the Rovers number one made a brilliant one-handed stop to tip the ball over the bar to ensure the points would be shared.
ROVERS: Steele, Lowe (c), Lenihan, Greer, Williams, Feeney, Akpan (sub Guthrie 90 mins), Mulgrew (sub Nyambe 23 mins), Bennett, Gallagher (sub Conway 83 mins), Graham.
Subs not used: Raya (GK), Stokes, Mahoney, Brown.
Goals: Graham 45+3 mins.
Booked: Lenihan 49 mins.
BIRMINGHAM: Kuszczak (sub Legzdins 46 mins), Grounds, Shotton, Gleeson, Cotterill (sub Frei 82 mins), Gardner, Adams, Jutkiewicz,  Dacres-Cogley, Davis (sub Kieftenbeld 78 mins), Morrison (c).
Subs not used: Nsue, Robinson, Tesche, Solomon-Otabor.
Goals: Jutkiewicz (pen) 3 mins.
Booked: Morrison 39 mins, Davis 53 mins, Gleeson 54 mins.
Attendance: 12,035 (including 1770 visiting supporters)

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