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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 1-1 Birmingham City

Adam Armstrong's penalty isn't enough as both sides play out a draw at Ewood Park against a resilient Blues

26 December 2019

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A pair of penalties saw Rovers and Birmingham City play out a Boxing Day draw at a chilly Ewood Park in our final home game of 2019.

The goals arrived in the second half, with the scoring started by Adam Armstrong, who struck home his sixth of the season from 12 yards just after the interval.

But the lead lasted only seven minutes, with Kerim Mrabti sending Christian Walton to equalise for the visitors just after the hour mark.

That was to be the last of the goalscoring, but there were chances for Rovers late on in the game, most notably through a low shot from Joe Rothwell that was saved by Connall Trueman.

Derrick Williams almost won in in injury time, but his header from a Rothwell corner clipped the top of the bar and bounced over.

Six changes from Tony Mowbray saw Amari'i Bell, John Buckley, Bradley Johnson, Lewis Holtby, Elliott Bennett and Sam Gallagher - against his former club - all start.

It wasn't a blistering start from either side, with the returning Gallagher slamming over the bar with his left foot midway through the first half after flicking the ball over the head of Kristian Pedersen.

At the other end, Christian Walton bravely denied Mrabti from close range after the Swede got the wrong side of Darragh Lenihan.

Connal Trueman stopped Harlee Dean from scoring an own goal when the Birmingham skipper inadvertently got a toe on the end of a Gallagher cross, before Buckley's strike was comfortably saved by the visiting 'keeper.

A moment later and Dean was involved again, this time skewing a header over the upright from close range after a corner reached the defender at the back post.

The chances were starting to arrive for both teams late on in the half, with Gallagher dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box with only seven minutes to go until the interval.

Next to try his luck was Armstrong, but after being picked out by Buckley, the diminutive forward saw his attempt deflect wide of the target.

The frontman was coming into the game more and tested Trueman with a long range strike that forced the Blues stopper into a smart save down to his right.

That was the last of the action of the half, but after the break Walton was the first of the two goalkeepers to be called into duty, with the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee holding onto Jeremie Bela's left-footed attempt.

The hosts were awarded a penalty just a few minutes later when Gallagher was hauled down in the box by Wes Harding after being slid in by Armstrong.

With no Danny Graham or Dack on the field, Armstrong stepped up to send Trueman the wrong way and slam his spot kick into the bottom left-hand corner to put Rovers in front.

Seven minutes later though and referee Robert Jones evened up the penalty calls, with Bell adjudged to have got a touch on the shin of Jacques Maghoma, which allowed Mrabti to stroke home from 12 yards and level things up just after the hour.

Mowbray's men went in search of a quickfire equaliser, but Holtby's curling free kick drifter over the upright with under 20 minutes remaining.

Time was ticking away, and substitute Rothwell did his best to find a late winner with a low drive that Trueman was forced to deal with inside the final three minutes of normal time.

There was to be one final chance, but Williams' header clipped the upright and flew over in the last action of an entertaining encounter.

Rovers: Walton, Nyambe (Travis, 72), Lenihan, Williams, Bell, Buckley (Graham, 81), Johnson, Bennett (c), Holtby (Rothwell, 81), Armstrong, Gallagher.

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Samuel, Downing, Brereton.

Goal: Armstrong pen, 55.

Booked: Johnson, 60, Nyambe, 70, Bennett, 82

Birmingham City: Trueman, Harding, Pedersen, Colin, Jutkiewicz, Bela (Bellingham, 77), Dean (c), Mrabti (Gimenez, 83), Maghoma (Sunjic, 88), Gardner, Davis.

Unused substitutes: Camp, Crowley, Montero, McEachran.

Goal: Mrabti pen, 62.

Booked: Mrabti, 23, Gardner, 76, Pedersen, 85

Attendance: 15,887.

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