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Report: Rovers 2 Reading 2

Rovers produce a stunning second half fightback to earn a point against the Royals at Ewood Park

22 August 2018

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A pair of Charlie Mulgrew penalties earned Rovers a point in a pulsating encounter at Ewood Park against Reading.

After Jon Dadi Bodvarsson's first half brace for the Royals, the hosts had it all to do at half time but produced an exceptional second half display to grab a deserved point in the end.

Like so many times last season, the goals came from the magic left boot of Charlie Mulgrew, who buried two spot kicks after a couple of fouls in the box from Reading captain Paul McShane.

It could have been more for Rovers, who created chances late on, but in the end a point apiece was probably a deserved result.

Tony Mowbray named two changes to the team that started against Hull at the weekend, with attacking pair Bradley Dack and Kasey Palmer missing out through knocks and being replaced by Joe Rothwell and Danny Graham in the XI.

For Reading, former Rover Mo Barrow started on the bench. The winger appeared five times for Rovers during a month at Ewood Park back at the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

Rovers were lively in the opening stages and should have got the opener six minutes into the encounter, but after being picked out on the edge of the box by Elliott Bennett, Rothwell crashed a curling effort onto the bar before blazing the follow up into the Darwen End.

Four minutes later Adam Armstrong was next to test the Reading backline, and after working a yard, the frontman curled goalwards but saw the experienced Vito Mannone in his way to tip the ball around his left-hand post.

But despite the dominance, it was the visitors who took the lead on 12 minutes through Bodvarsson, who nipped in ahead of David Raya to prod home after a punt forward was flicked on inadvertently by Darragh Lenihan.

It was 2-0 midway through the half, with Bodvarsson grabbing his and the visitors' second goal of the night when he smashed home from close range after Raya sensationally denied Yakou Meite's planted header, but only to see the tip away falling kindly for the giant Icelandic forward.

Rovers were searching for a response and with seven minutes of the half remaining the impressive Rothwell saw Liam Moore bravely dive in the way of his goalbound strike.

The hosts were dealt an injury blow just a moment before half time when Armstrong couldn't continue and limped off in place of Craig Conway.

In added time, Lenihan had a great chance to pull a goal back, but after Richie Smallwood hooked the ball in, the Irishman could only head tamely at Mannone rather than pick out the lurking Graham at the back post.

Rovers needed to go for it and Mowbray made a half time change with Dominic Samuel coming on against his old club and replacing Smallwood, which also resulted in a change of formation.

And a strong start to the second half led to Rovers earning a penalty after Bennett was taken down in the box by visiting skipper McShane.

Up stepped Mulgrew, who hammered the spot kick down the middle whilst Mannone dived to his left to reduce the defecit and give Rovers hope of a comeback.

The supporters were getting behind their team and Samuel unleashed an effort that flew wide before limping off with 18 minutes remaining, leaving Joe Nuttall to replace the half time substitute.

Rovers were continuing to apply the pressure and another penalty was awarded with 15 minutes remaining as Mulgrew was felled by McShane and the skipper stepped up to cooly slot into the corner, despite Mannone going the right way, to level the scores.

It was turning into a basketball match, with the game swinging from end to end and after Nuttall looped a header just over, substitute Marc McNulty smashed wide for the visitors from inside the box as time ticked down.

There was still time for a winner but it wasn't forthcoming, with the brilliant Corry Evans seeing his long range attempt fly over the bar to end a brilliant game.

Don't forget, Rovers are back at Ewood on Saturday when Brentford come to East Lancashire in the Championship. You can back the lads by purchasing your tickets for the clash here.

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Bell, Evans, Smallwood (Samuel, 46 (Nuttall, 72)), Bennett, Rothwell, Armstrong (Conway, 45), Graham.

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Downing, Travis, Hart.

Goals: Mulgrew, pen 52, pen 76

Booked: Evans, 86

Reading: Mannone, Yiadom, McShane (c), Moore, Bacuna, Baldock (McNulty, 84), Aluko (Sims, 63), Meite (Barrow, 77), Bodvarsson, Blackett, Kelly.

Unused substitutes: Walker, O'Shea, Meylor, Swift.

Goals: Bodvarsson, 12, 24

Attendance: 11,818 (247)


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