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Report: West Bromwich Albion 3-2 Rovers

It's a better second half display from Rovers, who lose out to Slaven Bilic's Baggies at The Hawthorns

31 August 2019

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Bradley Dack and Bradley Johnson scored their first league goals of the season but it wasn't enough as Rovers lost to the odd goal in five at West Bromwich Albion.

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Rovers raced into the lead through Dack's smart finish after only 25 seconds, before the home side responded with three first half finishes through Matt Phillips, Jake Livermore and Grady Diangana.

Johnson's close range strike gave the visitors hope on the stroke of half time, but despite largely bossing things after the interval, which included Stewart Downing hitting the post, it wasn't enough to take anything from The Hawthorns.

It was a much more encouraging second 45 minutes from Tony Mowbray's men, against a side who finished in the play-pffs last season, but Rovers went into the international break disappointed and with nothing to show for their efforts.

Mowbray made two changes to his team from the last league outing against Cardiff, with Amari'i Bell and Danny Graham dropping out to see Greg Cunningham and Adam Armstrong as the preferred options at left back and up front.

Rovers came flying out of the traps and took the lead after just 25 seconds. Lewis Travis hassled Semi Ajayi on the edge of the Baggies box and Dack cooly curled home first time for his first league goal of the season.

At the other end, Christian Walton was forced into action to keep hold of West Ham United loanee Grady Diangana's left-footed strike from the edge of the box.

But with the next chance came the equaliser through Phillips. The winger wrestled Cunningham off the ball in the Rovers box before slotting beyond Walton.

The score was almost turned on its head a moment later, but Matheus Pereira could only head a Darnell Furlong cross just past Walton's left-hand post.

Walton had to make sure he held onto Kyle Bartley's back post header after Diangana's diagonal pass found the defender, who stayed up from an earlier corner.

Albion were looking dangerous down their right flank, and after Phillips cracked the crossbar with a cross-shot, the ball fell to Livermore who confidently slotted into the corner from the edge of the box.

Two turned to three just five minutes before the break as Diangana robbed Darragh Lenihan before calmly lifting over the advancing Walton and into the net.

But Rovers kept their heads and managed to get a crucial goal just before the half time whistle. Stewart Downing's teasing free kick found Lenihan, whose header was saved by Sam Johnstone before Johnson smashed into the back of the net from close range.

The boss made two half time changes, with Johnson and Sam Gallagher making way for John Buckley and Joe Rothwell. The alteration led to Dack playing up top.

The changes looked to have worked, and Charlie Austin flicked a Downing cross onto his own bar before Livermore tapped into his own net, but referee Tony Harrington claimed that there was a foul on Johnstone in the build up.

Rovers were grateful for a reaction save from Walton to deny Slaven Bilic's side a fourth of the day, with Elliott Bennett in the right place at the right time to block Austin's follow up attempt.

Back at the other end, an inventive free kick was orchestrated by Dack, who set Downing up to clip the outside of Johnstone's left-hand post just after the hour mark.

There was 20 minutes remaining when Pereira swiveled and hit over Walton's upright at the end of a flowing move as the hosts looked to kill the game off.

Livermore drove over with five minutes remaining as the Rovers backline continued to stand firm in a much improved second half display.

There was to be one final chance for Rovers, with Cunningham connecting well with Bennett's cross but seeing Johnstone in his way at the near post, before Walton produced another fine stop at the other end to deny Ajayi, prior to Bartley slamming over from close range, in the final action of the game.

West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone, Furlong, Bartley, Ajayi, Livermore (c), Phillips, Pereira (Edwards, 89), Sawyers, Ferguson, Diangana (Krovinovic, 76), Austin (Zohore, 68).

Unused substitutes: Bond, Robson-Kanu, Brunt, O'Shea.

Goal: Phillips, 22, Livermore, 31, Diangana, 40

Booked: Ferguson, 66, Pereira, 79

Rovers: Walton, Bennett (c), Lenihan, Williams, Cunningham, Johnson (Buckley, 46), Travis, Downing, Dack, Gallagher (Rothwell, 46), Armstrong (Graham, 78).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Nyambe, Evans, Rankin-Costello.

Goal: Dack, 1, Johnson, 45

Booked: Lenihan, 40, Travis, 69.

Referee: Tony Harrington.

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