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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 2-1 Rotherham United

Rovers leave it late, with Adam Armstrong scoring with the last kick of the game to earn victory on home turf

16 December 2020

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A strike from Adam Armstrong in the final minute of added time saw Rovers come back from the dead to earn a last gasp victory against Rotherham United at Ewood Park.

In truth, Rovers weren't at the races throughout the majority of the contest, with Michael Smith deservedly putting the visitors ahead midway through the second half.

Rovers struggled to create too many clear cut chances until Harvey Elliott fired home an equaliser with 10 minutes remaining to bag his third succesive goal on home turf.

Substitute Amari'i Bell nodded home in the final minute but was adjudged to have been offside, and most would have thought that would be that.

That was until the eighth minute of added time though, with Armstrong the hero with the final kick of the game, slotting home after Daniel Ayala's attempted header broke into his path.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't fluid, the hosts weren't at their best, but the dramatic result gets Rovers back on track ahead of the trip to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.

The boss made two changes to the side that started against Norwich City at the weekend, with Derrick Williams and Lewis Holtby dropping out.

Injury ensured the former missed out on the matchday squad, with Ayala returning to the team to partner Darragh Lenihan.

Holtby was an option on the bench if needed, but John Buckley replaced the German as Mowbray freshened things up for the midweek test under the lights.

Rovers began brightly and Sam Gallagher's early attempt saw the striker lift the ball over the on-rushing Viktor Johansson, but also over the upright.

Gallagher was involved at the other end a moment later when he slipped to allow Matt Olosunde in, and Rovers were fortunate to see Smith's flick on fly just past the post.

The game was opening up, and fine work from Ryan Nyambe down the right eventually saw his pull back thumped wide by the advanced Barry Douglas.

More good play this time came from Joe Rothwell, and after scampering forward, the playmaker unleashed a curling strike that forced Johansson to beat away from danger just after the half hour mark.

It was an even half, and both sides went into the interval all square, but the hosts will have been the more frustrated team following the first 45 minutes.

Not much changed soon after the break, with both sides struggling to create too many opportunities, but on the hour a chance was crafted and taken by giant frontman Smith.

A flick on got the ball over the home backline, and Nyambe's unfortunate slip allowed Smith to gain the yard he needed to fire home a low effort beyond the despairing dive of Thomas Kaminski.

A couple of alterations saw Holtby and Tom Trybull enter the action, and the two played a part as Rovers went in search of a quick response.

Nice play from the German duo eventually saw Elliott and Nyambe link up again down the right, and after Armstrong swiped and missed the pull back, another substitute in Downing saw his effort blocked.

The visitors could and should have added a second with 18 minutes remaining as Matt Crooks capitalised on a breakdown in communication but curled wide when he really should have put Paul Warne's side 2-0 up.

That proved to offer Rovers a lifeline, but the hosts needed something to spark the team into life.

And it came via that man Elliott once again, grabbing an equaliser with 10 minutes remaining

It was scrappy but patient, with the ball eventually falling to the teenager who took a touch to get it out of his feet before smashing past Johansson from inside the box.

It looked like there was to be more drama in the final minute of normal time when Bell towered above Olosunde to head into the back of the net, but the substitute had just ventured beyond the last man and the flag was up.

With seven minutes of injury time added on, it felt that there could be one final opportunity for Rovers to complete the snatch and grab, and Downing's left foot orchestrated what turned out to be that memorable winning goal.

The experienced midfielder's cross was curled into a dangerous area, Ayala caused havoc as he tried to keep things alive, and the ball broke kindly to Armstrong, who rifled home first time for his 15th league goal of the season.

That was to be the final kick of a game that won't live long in the memory, with Armstrong once again proving to be the hero as Rovers picked up a vital three points.

Rovers: Kaminski, Nyambe, Lenihan (c), Ayala, Douglas (Bell, 59), Johnson (Trybull, 68), Rothwell (Downing, 59), Buckley (Holtby, 68), Gallagher (Dolan, 89), Elliott, Armstrong. 

Unused substitutes: Pears, Chapman, Carter, Lyons.

Goals: Elliott, 80, Armstrong, 90+7

Booked: Douglas, 58, Nyambe, 90.

Rotherham United: Johansson, Ihiekwe, Wood (c), MacDonald, Olosunde, Barlaser (Jones, 90), Lindsay, Crooks, Wiles (Harding, 70), Smith (Hirst, 70), Vassell (Ladapo, 70).

Unused substitutes: Blackman, Thompson, Miller, Jozefzoon.

Goal: Smith, 60.

Booked: Ihiekwe, 38, Lindsay, 65, Jones, 90.

Referee: Jarred Gillett.

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