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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 4 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Rovers respond to brilliantly brush aside the Owls with a thrilling display at Ewood Park

1 December 2018

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Danny Graham scored his first ever Rovers hat-trick on his 100th career league appearance for the club as Tony Mowbray's side emphatically brushed aside Sheffield Wednesday at Ewood Park.

Bradley Dack also scored and got all three assists for Graham's trio of strikes, and whilst the pair will get the plaudits, it was a wonderful team display from a revitalised Rovers.

Graham got the ball rolling to hand Rovers the advantage at the break, before Dack scored early in the second half.

Although ex-Rover Lucas Joao pulled a goal back in stunning style, Graham extended the lead soon after with a precise finish.

An own goal from David Raya made things interesting late on, but goal machine Graham completed his hat-trick in the dying embers of the game as Rovers got back to their very best.

There were changes against the Owls following a difficult week. Coming into the side were Paul Downing, Derrick Williams and Craig Conway, with Jack Rodwell, Amari'i Bell and Adam Armstrong dropping out of the starting XI.

Rodwell (head injury) and Bell were out of the squad altogether, but Armstrong was available from the bench if needed.

An encouraging start from Rovers saw Dack have the ball in the net just four minutes into the contest, but referee Robert Jones blew his whistle just before, with Graham adjudged to have handled in the build up.

Rovers went close to scoring a goal that would count just a few minutes later, but Harrison Reed's strike hit the post after he latched onto an excellent cross from Craig Conway.

But just a moment later Rovers did get the goal their play deserved as Graham found the net on his 100th league appearance for the club; snaffling up his chance after Dack's shot was beaten into his path by visiting goalkeeper Cameron Dawson.

Chances were few and far between from this point onwards, but with five minutes of the half remaining, Dack sent an effort over the bar after another cross from Conway found the Rovers number 23 in the box.

Such was Rovers dominance in the first half, the visitors made a double substitution at the break, with Fernando Forestieri and Atdhe Nuhui entering the action in place of Steven Fletcher and Marco Matias.

But it was Rovers who continued in the same vein, and Williams saw his header flicked off the line by Dawson after another expert Conway delivery, this time from a corner kick.

Wednesday finally did test Raya four minutes into the second half, with Adam Reach being sent clear before the former Middlesbrough man saw the Spaniard in his way from an acute angle.

However it was up the other end where the next goal came, and it arrived in style. Downing got the move started as he picked up the ball and drove into the Wednesday half before setting up Graham, whose ball was pretty much perfect for Dack, who found the back of the net from close range.

Rovers were flying, and skipper Charlie Mulgrew saw his free kick deflected wide as the hosts went in search of a third to wrap the game up.

But Wednesday were handed a lifeline just after the hour as former Rovers loanee Lucas Joao unleashed a poweful strike from all of 25 yards which kissed the upright before nestling into the net.

Rovers would have been expecting a storm from the visitors, but it was the home side who responded in the right way as Graham gobbled up his second of the game after Dack's strike hit the post and fell his way.

The fans were behind Rovers following an outstanding team display with time running out for Wednesday to find a route back.

Conway deserved a goal for his brilliant performance down the left side and the Scot went close to doing just that before Dawson clawed away his attempt.

But the tie wasn't yet over, and with five minutes remaining Jos Luhukay's side got a goal back to make things interesting after Bannan dinked the ball against the post, and on attempting to flick the ball out, momentum took Raya and the ball into the net.

Nerves? What nerves? Rovers weren't done and Graham completed his hat-trick with a simple finish after Dack played the ball across to the hitman.

And that was to be that as Rovers recovered to turn a disappointing week into a positive ending.

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Downing, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood, Evans (Travis, 86), Reed, Dack (Armstrong, 90), Conway, Graham (Brereton, 90).

Substitutes: Leutwiler, Rothwell, Nuttall, Palmer.

Goals: Graham, 11, 65, 90, Dack, 55

Booked: Downing, 40

Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson, Palmer, Pelupessy, Fletcher (Nuhiu, 46), Bannan, Thorniley, Lees (c), Joao, Matias (Forestieri, 46 (Onomah, 90)), Reach, Hector.

Substitutes: Wildsmith, Fox, Onomah, Penney, Pudil.

Goals: Joao, 62, Raya OG, 85

Booked: Bannan, 56

Referee: Robert Jones

Attendance: 15,154 (3,578 away)

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