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Report: Cardiff City 2-3 Rovers

Another stunning goal from Adam Armstrong earns Rovers a vital three points and keeps the play-off dream aliv

7 July 2020

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Another stunning Adam Armstrong strike secured all three points for Rovers against play-off chasing Cardiff City, as Tony Mowbray's men twice came from behind to win in south Wales.

Armstrong added another scorching finish to his porfolio of wonderstrikes, but his latest will go down as not just the best from this season, but potentially the best of his career.

Spotting Alex Smithies off his line, the in form forward lofted home his 15th goal of the season from just inside the Cardiff half, and that was enough to keep Rovers' play-off hopes alive.

It arrived after Will Vaulks had given the home side the lead, before Danny Graham levelled things up soon after.

Robert Glazel ensured the hosts regained their lead at half time, but Dominic Samuel equalised again just after the interval.

Rovers' second half performance was excellent, with Armstrong's winner proving both valuable and deserved for Mowbray's men, in tough conditions in Wales.

The boss made four changes to his starting lineup in south Wales, with Joe Rankin-Costello, Stewart Downing, Samuel and Graham all coming in.

Rankin-Costello's return arrived after the youngster missed out on the last three games due to a slight hamstring strain.

Heading out of the side were Elliott Bennett - a doubt going into the encounter - Joe Rothwell, Lewis Holtby and Sam Gallagher, who were all available from the bench if required.

The hosts made two alterations to their team that started in the win over Bristol City three days earlier, with Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Callum Paterson dropping out, to allow Josh Murphy and Robert Glatzel to be drafted in.

The first foray forward from the visitors nearly led to the opening goal, and it would have come from the rarest of sources.

A cross from the left was perfect for Ryan Nyambe, but the right back could only slide the ball wide from close range.

That missed opportunity came back to haunt Rovers soon after when Vaulks made sure Cardiff broke the deadlock with a delicate finish over Christian Walton.

The former Rotherham midfielder made an advanced run behind the Rovers backline, spotted Walton off his line and managed to confidently loft the ball over the goalkeeper, via the underside of the crossbar after only 14 minutes.

However, that lead only lasted nine minutes for Neil Harris' side, as Graham's return to south Wales resulted in the ex-Swansea frontman's fourth goal of the season.

The veteran was on hand to poach from close range after Darragh Lenihan's towering hit the post and then deflected into the forward's path via the back of Cardiff stopper Alex Smithies.

Rovers were growing in confidence and beginning to control the contest, but it was former Rovers Academy graduate Junior Hoilett who next went close to adding to the goals on the half hour mark.

After Rovers struggled to clear their lines, the ball bounced up perfectly for the Canadian international, but the attacker slammed a volley across goal and just beyond Walton's right-hand post.

The home side came again as they looked to take a lead into half time, but Walton was equal to his long range effort with five minutes to go until the break.

However, there was nothing he could do to stop Glatzel from putting his side back in front with a cute flick just a moment later.

A fine move saw Murphy involved again, with his pass feeding the over-lapping Joe Bennett, whose cross was directed into the net by Cardiff's big German striker, despite appeals for offside.

Whatever the boss said at half time worked a treat for Rovers, with Samuel's cushioned volley levelling the score for a second time just two minutes after the interval.

It looked as if the striker should have been awarded a penalty just before he finished off Adam Armstrong's deflected cross from the left, but justice was served thanks to the goal.

The hosts went in search of another goal which would have put them in front for a third time, but Walton made sure he parried another Murphy strike clear of any onrushing forwards.

Samuel almost added his second and Rovers' third of the night on the hour mark, but he couldn't find a way past Smithies after an excellent flowing move from the visitors that resulted in Lewis Travis setting him up.

Time was running out for Rovers to keep their play-off hopes alive, and with 20 minutes remaining it was man of the moment Armstrong who produced his most outrageous finish of the season.

There's been plenty of stunning strikes from the diminutive hitman this season, but his latest will be one to remember for a long, long time.

The 23-year-old must have been 40 yards from goal, but spotted Smithies off his line to hit a sublime lob over the goalkeeper and put Rovers in front for the first time in the evening.

City were struggling to create too many clear cut chances, but Joe Ralls did go close with nine minutes left, only to see his strike curl just past Walton's right-hand post.

Despite some late long throws into the box from substitute Callum Paterson, Rovers managed to hold on to record a huge victory that moves them to within five points of the play-off places with four games to go.

Cardiff City: Smithies, Sanderson (Pack, 84), Bennett, Morrison (c), Vaulks (Paterson, 73), Bacuna, Ralls, Glatzel (Ward, 73), Murphy (Tomlin, 73), Nelson, Hoilett (Whyte, 84).

Unused substitutes: Ethridge, Flint, Bamba, Smith.

Goals: Vaulks, 14, Glatzel, 41.

Rovers: Walton, Nyambe, Lenihan (c), Adarabioyo, Rankin-Costello (Bennett, 68), Travis, Johnson, Downing, Armstrong (Gallagher, 87), Samuel (Holtby, 87), Graham (Rothwell, 76).

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Mulgrew, Davenport, Buckley, Carter.

Goals: Graham, 23, Samuel, 47, Armstrong, 70.

Booked: Travis, 88.


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