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Match Reports

Report: Rovers 2-3 Watford

Goals from Harvey Elliott and Ben Brereton aren't enough for Rovers at Ewood Park

24 February 2021

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Goals from Harvey Elliott and Ben Brereton weren't enough as Rovers suffered a narrow defeat to Watford at Ewood Park

Rovers were 2-0 down by the time Elliott lashed home just before half-time, with finishes from Joao Pedro and the impressive Ismaila Sarr initially putting the Hornets in command.

Rovers improved after the break, but it was Xisco Munoz's men who bagged a third of the night through Ken Sema's finish into the bottom corner.

Adam Armstrong then saw Daniel Bachmann in his way before substitute Ben Brereton slammed into the back of the net from close range with eight minutes remaining.

The last opportunity of an equaliser fell the way of Jarrad Branthwaite, but Bachmann denied the defender and Rovers from finding a dramatic equaliser in the dying embers of the game.

The result means it's now five defeats in a row, but Tony Mowbray will have seen enough encouraging signs from his team, against a side who have now won their last four games and sit outside the top two on goal difference.

Mowbray made four changes to the team that started at Nottingham Forest last time out, with recalls handed to Barry Douglas, Corry Evans, Joe Rothwell and Bradley Dack.

Amari'i Bell and Brereton dropped to the bench, whilst injuries kept Sam Gallagher and Jacob Davenport out of the matchday squad.

It was the hosts who had the first shot in anger, but the returning Rothwell saw his attempt fly straight down the throat of Watford's Austrian stopper Bachmann.

At the other end, Tom Cleverley sent a free kick over the upright in a first 20 minutes of few chances at a sodden Ewood.

However, soon after and the visitors took the lead through Joao Pedro, who broke the offside trap before looping a cool finish over Thomas Kaminski and into the roof of the net.

Rovers went in search of a quick response, with Armstrong rifling an effort wide of Bachmann's left-hand post just seconds after that setback.

The dangerous Sarr made it 2-0 with seven minutes to go until the break, with the Senegalese tapping home after Kaminski produced an excellent stop to initially deny Joao Pedro.

That two-goal advantage lasted just five minutes though, with Elliott bagging his fifth goal of the season to give Rovers a lifeline going into the interval.

After some excellent pressing by Rothwell, the playmaker robber Francisco Sierralta, and after his pass was cut out, it reached Liverpool loanee Elliott who lashed past Bachmann at the near post.

That gave Rovers hope for the beginning of the second half, but the Hornets hit a sucker punch on the hour mark by putting a third goal past Kaminski.

It was another soft goal to give away as Sema finished off a move with a precise finish to the left of the Rovers stopper.

It was a hammer blow for Mowbray's me, who had certainly held their own during the first 15 minutes of the second half in particular.

Armstrong went in search of reducing the scoreline seconds later, but after beating William Troost-Ekong, Bachmann was there to shovel the ball behind for a corner kick.

It took a clearance off the line from Branthwaite to nod away from danger as the visitors went in search of a fourth to kill the game off with under 25 minutes of the encounter remaining.

It looked like that header from the Everton loanee would be vital as a lifeline arrived with eight minutes remaining. Brereton, who had emerged off the bench just 13 minutes earlier, was in the right place to bundle home at the back post after fellow substitute Stewart Downing's deep corner found him lurking at the back post.

That set up something of a grandstand finish at Ewood, and Downing's tantalising free kick found Branthwaite at the back stick, but Bachmann was there to parry before the danger was cleared.

That was to be the final action of the game as Rovers once more came away frustrated from a game they deserved more out of.

Rovers: Kaminski, Nyambe, Harwood-Bellis, Branthwaite, Douglas, Travis (Downing, 56), Evans, Rothwell (Brereton, 69), Elliott, Dack (Dolan, 69), Armstrong (c).

Unused substitutes: Pears, Bell, Buckley, Bennett, Pike, McBride.

Goals: Elliott, 43, Brereton, 82

Booked: Rothwell, 34

Watford: Bachmann, Femenia, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta, Masina, Hughes, Gosling (Zinckernagel, 62), Cleverley (c), Sarr, Joao Pedro (Gray, 77), Sema (Wilmot, 77).

Unused substitutes: Elliot, Ngakia, Cathcart, Lazaar, Perica, Hungbo.

Goals: Joao Pedro, 25, Sarr, 38, Sema, 61.

Referee: James Linington.

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