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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 2 Wigan 2

Both sides share the spoils in an entertaining Lancashire battle at Ewood Park

4 March 2018

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An entertaining affair ended all square as Rovers and Wigan earned a point each in the first v third clash at Ewood Park.

A brace of Bradley Dack assists gave Rovers the perfect start as he fed Adam Armstrong and then Elliott Bennett, who put Tony Mowbray's side in command after just 17 minutes.

But Paul Cook's side battled back in the second half and goals from Michael Jacobs and Max Power saw a share of the spoils in a feisty Lancashire battle at a chilly Ewood.

In the only change to the side that defeated AFC Wimbledon earlier in the week, Mowbray opted for Corry Evans to start, with the Northern Irishman replacing Jack Payne, who dropped to the bench.

There was a return to the Rovers squad for Craig Conway, who had missed the last couple of games through a troublesome hamstring injury.

Striker Dominic Samuel remained sidelined having missed out on the trip to Wimbledon on Tuesday evening.

There was a terrific early atmosphere created by both sets of supporters, and after a spell of visiting pressure, it was Rovers who took the early advantage in classy style through Armstrong's fifth goal in his last six games.

A crunching challenge from Darragh Lenihan started the move off as he won the ball off Nick Powell. Home playmaker Dack picked the ball up and found Armstrong with an excellent pass and the Newcastle loanee finished cooly, first time and left-footed from the edge of the box.

Wigan searched for a response and Gavin Massey prodded wide of the target after Will Grigg picked him out with a low cross to feet.

Rovers' good start was made great on 17 minutes and Dack was the architect again. The number 23 shook off Nathan Byrne down the left side and disguised a lovely ball to the overlapping Bennett, who swept home emphatically to bag his second goal in a week.

Powell lashed well wide in an opening half hour that saw David Raya rarely tested, before the same player acrobatically forced the Spaniard into a save soon after.

At the other end, a superb Ryan Nyambe cross found the returning Evans, whose volley bounced down before forcing Christian Walton to tip over the attempt.

It was the visitors who had the majority of the ball, but Rovers were in a clinical mood. However, they still had to be aware of the visitors' attacking threats, which were shown when Max Power's corner found Chey Dunkley, who headed three or four yards wide of Raya's left-hand post.

It was a crucial time in the game for Rovers, with just a few minutes to go until the break.There was still time for another opportunity for the hosts, and skipper Charlie Mulgrew almost deceived Walton with a direct free kick which whistled just past the Wigan custodian's left-hand post.

After the break, once again it was the Latics who were having plenty of the possession, but it was Rovers who worked the first notable chance of the half as Armstrong blazed just over after being played in by Dack.

And just when things were looking comfortable, Paul Cook's side found a route back into the game when Jacobs smashed a volley home via a deflection of Mulgrew after a knockback found the midfielder lurking in the box just after the hour.

Rovers responded pretty well though and the impressive Dack forced Walton into a low stop after he cut in from the left again.

But with 17 minutes to go, the visitors grabbed a leveller and it came in simple circumstances, as a whipped free kick from Power evaded everyone in the box and Raya couldn't react in time to stop the former Tranmere man finding the bottom corner.

At this point it was Wigan's tails that were up, and a double change was made by Mowbray with 15 to go as Joe Nuttall and Marcus Antonsson entered the action in place of Danny Graham and Evans respectively.

But chances were few and far between for both sides, with substitute Jamie Walker seeing his free kick blocked by the wall for the Latics, and Derrick Williams seeing his header saved by Walton, as both sides picked up a point for their efforts in a tightly contested affair.

The point apiece ensured Rovers remain six points ahead of the third placed Latics, who have four games in hand on Mowbray's table-toppers.

Rovers are next in action against Blackpool at Ewood Park on Saturday 10th March, kick-off 3pm.

Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew (c), Williams, Smallwood, Evans (Antonsson, 75), Bennett, Dack, Armstrong (Payne, 82), Graham (Nuttall, 75).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Bell, Downing, Conway.

Goals: Armstrong, 7, Bennett, 17.

Booked: Evans, 24, Bennett, 59, Nyambe, 85.

Wigan: Walton, Morsy (c), Byrne (Vaughan, 56), Dunkley, Burn, Elder, Power, Massey (Walker, 58), Jacobs, Powell (Perkins, 82), Grigg.

Unused substitutes: Jones, Bruce, Roberts, Colclough.

Goal: Jacobs, 64, Power, 73.

Booked: Morsy, 33, Elder, 53, Powell, 66.

Attendance: 16,142.

Referee: Geoff Eltrincham.

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