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Report: Rovers 1-0 Middlesbrough

Danny Graham is the hero as Rovers get off the mark with a narrow victory against the Boro on home turf

17 August 2019

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A first half penalty from Danny Graham ensured Rovers earned a deserved first win of the season by seeing off Middlesbrough at Ewood Park.

Rovers bossed the majority of the game against Jonathan Woodgate's Teessiders and had chances to extend their lead, most notably through Stewart Downing early in the second half.

The home side showed grit to withstand some late Boro pressure, but got the points their performance deserved.

On the 19th anniversary of Jack Walker's death, it was a display that our greatest supporter will have loved - hard work, battling qualities, a clinical side to our game and a clean sheet.

Tony Mowbray made four changes to his side from last weekend's clash at Fulham for the clash against his former side.

Darragh Lenihan, Greg Cunningham, Downing and Graham all returned to the starting XI, in place of Tosin Adarabioyo, Amari'i Bell, Joe Rothwell and Adam Armstrong.

Adarabioyo missed out on making the squad through injury, but the latter three were all available to Mowbray off the bench.

Boro almost took the lead just five minutes into the encounter when strong running from George Friend, who Mowbray signed for the Teessiders during his time as Boro boss, fed Lewis Wing, whose dipping effort flew just past Christian Walton's left-hand post.

At the other end, Cunningham fired just over Darren Randolph's upright after Stewart Downing's corner was only cleared into the left back's path.

Soon after and Bradley Dack's cross-shot fell into the path of Graham, but, on the stretch, the frontman could only prod just wide of the target from close range.

It was an encouraging first 25 minutes for the hosts, and Rovers deservedly took the lead from the spot after Graham's shirt was almost ripped off his back by Anfernee Dijksteel.

In the absence of regular skipper Charlie Mulgrew, Graham dusted himself down to send Randolph the wrong was and slot into the back of the net to hand Mowbray's men the lead against the club where he started his career.

Middlesbrough were struggle for any real creation, but Walton had to be alert to ensure Jonny Howson's curling effort didn't sneak in at the far post as Rovers took the advantage into the break.

Boro had the first shot in anger after the interval, but Wing's long range free kick was comfortably held by Walton down low to his right.

Rovers came again though and Downing almost came back to haunt his old employers, but after a quick corner kick routine, the winger, who appeared 404 times for Boro over two spells, bent his effort just inches beyond Randolph's far post.

The visitors threatened rarely, but Walton was thankful for his post, which denied substitute Marcus Browne from equalising after the giant 'keeper misseda right wing cross.

A double substitution with 15 minutes almost resulted in an instant impact from John Buckley and Joe Rothwell, but Randolph showed fine reactions to stop Rothwell's strike after Buckley's low cross.

Buckley went close to making the game safe with four minutes remaining, but he could only guide a Gallagher cross over the upright.

But in the end Rovers saw the game out brilliantly to get off the mark in the Championship with a first three point haul of the campaign.

Rovers: Walton, Bennett (c), Lenihan, Williams, Cunningham, Johnson, Travis, Downing (Rothwell, 75), Gallagher, Dack (Buckley, 75), Graham (Armstrong, 70).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Nyambe, Bell, Evans, Buckley.

Goal: Graham, 25

Booked: Cunningham, 27, Bennett, 31, Johnson, 49, Travis, 68, Williams, 89

Middlesbrough: Randolph, Dijksteel (Tavernier, 61), Shotton, Ayala, Friend (c) (Walker, 83), McNair, Johnson (Browne, 70), Howson, Wing, Fletcher, Assombalonga.

Unused substitutes: Pears, Clayton, Saville, Bola.

Booked: Dijksteel, 25, Ayala, 26, Wing, 84

Referee: Jarred Gillett.

Attendance: 14,012 (2,584 away)

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