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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 2 Bristol Rovers 1

Comeback victory makes it three wins from three for Rovers as double substitution makes the difference at Ewood Park

25 November 2017

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Second half strikes from Charlie Mulgrew and substitute Dominic Samuel ensured Rovers made it three wins in a week after coming back from a goal down to earn a hard fought 2-1 win at Ewood Park.

All the action came in the second 45 minutes and after Ellis Harrison handed the visitors the lead on the hour mark it could have been the case of Rovers slipping up at home.

But the team showed great character and the double change of Danny Graham and Samuel entering the action proved critical.

Samuel won a penalty within seconds of coming on, which was smashed home expertly from Mulgrew before Samuel himself grabbed his first goal in two months to earn the vital points for Rovers.

Boss Tony Mowbray made one change from the team that won at Oxford United on Tuesday evening.

Winger Elliott Bennett - who had played plenty of minutes for Rovers this term - was rested but available from the bench if needed, with Peter Whittingham coming into the XI in the only change.

It was a decent start from Rovers, but it was the visitors who had the first notable chance of the game, with Mulgrew - playing for the 50th time for the hosts - getting a crucial block on Billy Bodin's left-footed effort just eight minutes into the game.

A moment later shouts for a penalty were waved away by referee Ross Joyce after it looked like Derrick Williams was taken down in the box after the left back latched onto a neat Richie Smallwood pass.

Midway through the half neither 'keeper had really been tested but Joe Nuttall saw his long range drive fly just over Adam Smith's upright.

The visitors looked like they had taken the lead just before the half hour mark when Ollie Clarke smashed past David Raya after his initial effort cannoned back into his path after hitting Ryan Nyambe, but the flag was up for offside.

The disallowed goal seemed to give the visitors confidence that they could get at Rovers and Mowbray's men were fortunate that Billy Bodin's header ten minutes before the break cracked the crossbar and was cleared as Raya's goal began to live a charmed life.

And Raya was left thanking his upright again as Mulgrew blocked Harrison's strike, the ball looped up and clipped the bar once more as Rovers were increasingly coming under the cosh with the half drawing to a close.

Rovers saw another spot kick shout turned down when Smallwood saw his strike in the box blocked - possibly by a hand - but referee Joyce again didn't give it.

Rovers came flying out of the traps after the break and after Smallwood found Macus Antonsson, the Swede's cross was perfect for Bradley Dack at the back post but the in form ex-Gillingham man could only hit narrowly past the post from close range just a minute into the half.

Ten minutes into the half and Smallwood was next to try his luck but his effort from the edge of the box flew over.

And just a few minutes later the visitors took the lead when Harrison shimmied inside before curling past Raya and into the bottom corner.

But Rovers responded brilliantly and won a penalty through substitute Samuel, who was hauled down in the box and up stepped Mulgrew - who celebrated his milestone match by rifling home the penalty and equalise with his sixth of the season.

The home side's tails were up and another substitute in Graham somehow skewed a header wide after latching onto a wicked Mulgrew delivery.

And the turnaround was complete just a couple of minutes later when Samuel got on the end of Williams' cross to nod past Smith and into the net.

The substitutions looked to change the game in the hosts' favour and after Nayambe beat his man down the right side, Samuel's strike was blocked and fell to Corry Evans, who could only float an attempt over the bar.

Dack was next to attempt to get his name on the scoresheet but his bouncing shot was comfortable for Smith with 17 minutes remaining.

Rovers weren't home and dry though and Darrell Clarke threw on strikers Rory Gaffney and Tom Nichols with time running out to ask more questions of the home defence.

Raya was called into action with seven minutes remaining to beat away a powerful Liam Sercombe strike from the edge of the box.

But Rovers saw out some visiting pressure to turn a good week into a great one with their third win on the trot to rise up to fifth ahead of Tuesday's trip to Blackpool in League One.

ROVERS: Raya, Nyambe, Downing, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood, Whittingham (Samuel 60), Evans, Dack (Bennett 78), Antonsson, Nuttall (Graham 59).
Subs not used: Leutwiler, Ward, Caddis, Harper.

Goals: Mulgrew (61 pen), Samuel (67)
Booked: Nyambe 

BRISTOL ROVERS: Smith, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer (c), Sweeney (Broadbent 35), Sercombe, Clarke, Harrison, Bodin (Nichols 76), Partington (Gaffney 76), Sinclair.
Subs not used: Slocombe, Lines, Telford, Broom.

Goal: Harrison (58)
Booked: Harrison, Leadbitter

Attendance: 11,660 (1,317 away)

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