Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Town - Match Report
Saturday, 3rd Oct 2015 17:08
Nemesis Jordan Rhodes scored two first-half goals to condemn the Blues to a 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers. The former Blues striker, who has now scored six goals in six games against his old club, netted the first from the penalty spot in the 12th minute, then headed home the second four minutes later.
Town manager Mick McCarthy was forced into two changes with Jonny Parr and Larsen Touré coming into the side for Jonas Knudsen, who was ill, and Ryan Fraser, who picked up a minor knock in training on Thursday.
Parr was handed his first league start of the season at left-back with Touré’s inclusion seeing Ainsley Maitland-Niles switch to the left of midfield. Daryl Murphy and Freddie Sears continued up front with David McGoldrick and Brett Pitman on the bench.
For Rovers, midfielder Danny Guthrie missed out due to a thigh injury and was replaced by Hope Akpan.
The home side started on top but without threatening Dean Gerken’s goal and on five Sears’s cross to Touré was cut out by a defender.
Shortly afterwards the Guinean international won a corner but Maitland-Niles was unable to create an opportunity, then on nine Murphy headed the on-loan Arsenal man’s right-wing freekick over.
Despite the Blues having had a decent spell it was the home side who would go in front from the penalty spot in the 12th minute.
Referee Andre Marriner first denied Rovers a spot-kick when Ben Marshall’s shot struck Christophe Berra on the arm, but when Hope Akpan burst past Cole Skuse and Luke Chambers and into the area on the left Larsen Touré was adjudged to have tripped the midfielder. Rhodes confidently beat Gerken to register his fifth goal in six games against his old club.
It took only another four minutes for Rhodes, controversially sold to Huddersfield by Roy Keane during his time in charge of the Blues for a fee which eventually reached just over £1 million in the summer of 2009, to make it six in six.
Craig Conway whipped over a corner from the left and the Town academy product got ahead of Chambers to nod past Gerken.
Town, who had conceded two goals in quick succession for the second week running, looked to get back into the game via a freekick not far outside the area on 19 but Maitland-Niles stuck his shot into the wall.
A minute later a frustrated Touré picked up the game’s first yellow card for a foul on right-back Adam Henley.
Rovers continued to look the more dangerous side and on 23 left-back Markus Olsson had the ball in the net but having strayed into an offside position.
As the half moved towards its final 10 minutes the Blues were having a lot of the ball but without creating any serious chances. Rovers were defending determinedly - Maitland-Niles saw two threaded passes cut out - and then on 36 Jonathan Douglas screwed a shot wide from distance.
Chambers dived in to block from Conway a minute later after the winger had been fed in space on the left of the area by Marshall, then from the corner Grant Hanley beat his Scotland team-mate Christophe Berra at the far post but headed wide.
However, in the 44th minute Murphy wasn’t too far away from opening his account for the season when he tested Rovers keeper Jason Steele for the first time with a 25-yard strike which the former England U21 international pushed around his left post. From the corner, Tommy Smith got away from his man but failed to connect with his header.
Town couldn’t complain about the scoreline at the break, the home side having been on top for the most part, aside from the spell just before the penalty.
Whether it was Touré’s challenge which caused Akpan to go to ground was probably debatable, the Blackburn man looked to have lost his chance to shoot when he went down, but Rhodes netted the kick with his usual confidence.
The striker’s second from the corner soon afterwards is likely to frustrate manager McCarthy more with the Blues having conceded too many preventable goals in recent weeks.
From there, Town huffed and puffed but never really looked like getting back into the game with Murphy’s late shot from distance keeper Steele’s only save.
The Blues began the second half unchanged and on the front foot, Steele claiming an early Berra header into the danger area.
Corry Evans was booked for a foul before David McGoldrick took over from Touré. Soon after, Henley was yellow-carded for a late challenge on Smith.
Maitland-Niles joined him in the book for a foul on Conway on 57 then two minutes later he was replaced by Pitman with the Blues now having all four strikers on the pitch.
On the hour, McGoldrick headed Pitman’s corner from the right over the bar, then Rhodes was inches from claiming a hat-trick, his strike from the edge of the area from Evans’s pass hitting Gerken’s left post.
Sears did well to get away from Henley on the Town left in the 64th minute before cutting into the area. The ex-Colchester man might have laid the ball back to one of a number of team-mates but instead shot and saw his effort blocked. Moments later, Berra was booked for a foul on Rhodes as Blackburn broke.
Skipper Chambers stuck a powerful effort from fully 40 yards which flew not far wide with the help of a deflection on 69 following a corner with the Blues having a lot of the ball but without being able to find a way through a Rovers backline which was defending solidly.
The home side continued to look a threat on the break, however, and probably should have been three in front in the 69th minute when Evans played in Henley on the right of the area, but Gerken was quickly off his line to block.
Rhodes shot into the side-netting from a tight angle off Berra in the 76th minute, then from the corner Hanley headed over.
In the 81st minute the former Town striker was only prevented from completing his hat-trick by a superb Gerken save. Rhodes glanced Conway’s freekick from the left towards the corner of the net but the Blues keeper somehow got across to push the ball away.
A minute later, Tommy Oar was handed his league debut for Murphy, who had had another frustrating afternoon.
With five minutes remaining, after Berra had been penalised for another foul on Rhodes and the home fans had been calling for a second yellow card, the Blues conjured a chance. McGoldrick won the ball on the right, Oar crossed towards Sears and Parr but Steele was out quickly to clear, catching the Norwegian’s shin as he did so.
Pitman required treatment after colliding with Steele as the keeper punched away a cross from deep on 87 but was OK to carry on.
The Blues continued to look in vain for a goal as the fourth official’s board indicated an additional four minutes.
In truth, Rovers’ victory never looked in doubt once Rhodes, whose sale Town seem to have cause to regret more every time they face him, had netted his two goals in quick succession.
The home side saw the game out professionally with Town, who have now lost five in a row at Ewood Park where they are without a league win since August 1991, unable to cause keeper Steele to make too many serious saves.
Town, who failed to score for the first time in 22 league games, go into the international break having dropped to 12th and with one win in six league games.
Blackburn: Steele, Henley, Duffy, Hanley (c), Olsson, Marshall, Evans, Akpan, Conway, Lawrence (Williamson 90), Rhodes. Unused: Raya, Spurr, Delfouneso, Taylor, Petshi, Lenihan.
Town: Gerken, Chambers (c), Parr, Berra, Smith, Skuse, Douglas, Touré (McGoldrick 53), Maitland-Niles (Pitman 59), Murphy, Sears. Unused: Bialkowski, Malarczyk, Emmanuel, Bru, Oar. Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands). Attendance: 12,672 (Town: 642).
Photo: Action Images
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