Blackburn Rovers 2-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 19th Jan 2019 17:11
Second-half goals from Danny Graham, from the penalty spot, and sub Joe Nuttall saw Blackburn to a 2-0 victory over the Blues at Ewood Park. Callum Elder felled Adam Armstrong for the spot-kick converted by Graham on 65, then Nuttall added the second nine minutes later with his first touch seconds after coming on.
Alan Judge, who joined Town from Brentford for a nominal fee earlier in the week, was handed his Blues debut against Rovers, a club where he has had two spells.
Jack Lankester, celebrating his 19th birthday today, dropped to the bench as manager Paul Lambert, a former Rovers boss, named an otherwise unchanged team.
As for last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat of Rotherham, the Blues lined-up in a 4-4-1-1 system, with Judge on the right side of midfield.
Skipper Luke Chambers continued at the centre of the defence wearing a strapping on the wrist he injured against the Millers.
Former Town captain and coach Tony Mowbray made three changes to his Blackburn team with Jack Rodwell, Corry Evans and Bradley Dack returning to the XI and Ryan Nyambe, Richie Smallwood and Ben Brereton dropping to the bench having started the 4-2 midweek after-extra-time FA Cup defeat to Newcastle.
There was a big scare for the Blues in the seventh minute when Cole Skuse was uncharacteristically caught in possession not far outside his area. Lewis Travis eventually worked the ball to Graham in space inside the box but fortunately for the Blues the former Swansea striker’s shot at goal was diverted wide by Chambers.
Town, wearing their all orange away kit, began to pass the ball around confidently, despite a bumpy-looking pitch, with new boy Judge very much involved. However, they weren’t able to carve out an opportunity to test David Raya in the Rovers goal.
The home side spurned another chance to go in front in the 22nd minute when skipper Elliott Bennett was found breaking into the area on the Rovers right with a low Bradley Dack ball from the other flank. Luckily for Town, the one-time Norwich winger or right-back blazed well over the bar.
Blackburn had another opportunity in the 24th minute, Dack hitting a 25-yard freekick towards goal which scuffed off the wall and went behind.
Rovers went even closer following the resultant corner. Corry Evans hit a low shot through a crowd of players from distance which Rodwell turned on to the inside of Gerken’s left post. The loose ball ran across the six-yard box but the keeper dived on it just ahead of Dack.
The Lancastrians had by now got up a head of steam and the Blues were struggling to get out of their own half.
In the 25th minute Dack chased a ball into the left of the Town box and tried to lift it over the advancing Gerken, however, he scuffed his effort and James Collins cleared.
Four minutes later, Armstrong struck a shot from the edge of the box which Gerken pushed wide of his right post.
The pressure eventually subsided and the Blues began to get their passing going again and started to get on top, Judge and Sears having swapped flanks.
And in the 39th minute, with the home fans starting to become frustrated their their side, they might have gone in front.
Keane was played in on goal and beat the advancing Raya to the ball but took it too wide to the right to slip into the net. The on-loan Hull City man waited for team-mates to lay it back to but eventually tried to sneak a shot in at the near post and the ball was bundled behind.
A minute later, from a Judge freekick, Collins got his head to the ball but was unable to divert it towards goal.
The Blues found themselves back under pressure as the half moved into one minute of injury time with Blackburn winning a succession of corners and throws, but Town were able to hold out to go in with the scoreline 0-0 at the break.
Blackburn will feel they had had enough chances to have gone in ahead, Graham failing to take advantage of Skuse’s early error and then a number of players coming close during their dominant spell midway through the half.
Town just about kept the scoreline blank during that period and might have gone in ahead themselves had Keane not taken the ball quite as wide when rounding Raya and had a team-mate been placed for him to cut back towards.
At times the Blues had long spells of possession but equally there were moments when they had surrendered possession and had looked like the scratch side that to a great extent they are given the turnaround in personnel with five of the six January signings starting.
Blackburn swapped on-loan Southampton man Harrison Reed, who had suffered a knock in the midweek game against Newcastle, for Joe Rothwell ahead of the second half.
The home side began the second period as they left off the first, winning a number of set pieces. However, with Town able to prevent Gerken’s goal from being threatened.
Eleven minutes after the restart a wayward Collins pass gifted the ball to Rothwell midway inside the Town half but Matthew Pennington stabbed the ball away from the sub to Gerken as he prepared to shoot.
A minute later, the Blues’ first attack of the second half ended with Sears crossing for Collin Quaner, who looped a ball which was behind him wide of Raya’s right post.
But in the 65th minute the home side took the lead from the penalty spot. Armstrong got ahead of the rather pedestrian Elder as they chased a ball into the right of the box and the Australian left-back, on loan from Leicester, hauled down the former Newcastle man. Referee Darren England took his time before pointing to the spot.
Town’s players debated furiously with referee England - Chambers was eventually booked for scuffing the penalty spot - but it looked a correct decision and somewhat needless with Armstrong not going anywhere. Graham took the spot-kick and slammed his 10th goal of the season past Gerken.
It might have got even worse for the Blues just over a minute later, sub Rothwell smashing a powerful shot from the left which Gerken superbly tipped on to his left post.
Chambers headed over from a Judge freekick for Town, then on 67 boss Lambert switched Quaner for Lankester, the sub moving to the right, Keane forward and Judge swapping into the number 10 role. Six minutes later, Blackburn replaced Graham with Nuttall.
And with his first touch of the ball the sub all but sealed his side’s victory. Armstrong broke away down the right and crossed low for Nuttall, who slammed into the net from a matter of inches.
Nuttall was booked for a foul on Chambers, then in the 77th minute Dack shot just wide from the edge of the box on the right with Blackburn sensing that there were more goals for them in the game.
On 81 Elder crossed deep from the left to Judge breaking in at the back of the box but the new signing’s shot was blocked. Soon after, Teddy Bishop replaced Sears for Town and Smallwood took over from Evans for Rovers.
Town went close to pulling a goal back in the 85th minute when Keane made the most of some hesitancy between Raya and Bennett, the ball bouncing out to Bishop with the keeper well out of his goal.
The sub’s shot looked goalbound but Elliott somehow managed to deflect it wide, with his hand claimed Town’s players, not overly convincingly, but with his chest according to the referee. Replays suggest the Blues squad were the more correct and they ought to have been awarded the game's second penalty.
Dack curled a shot wide for Rovers as the match entered its final scheduled two minutes, then in four minutes of injury time Rothwell shot over from the left of the box.
Neither side threatened again before England’s whistle ended the match. As against Rotherham, the Blues never got going after the break having had bright spells before half-time.
Whereas they held out against the Millers, this time they were made to pay after Elder’s rash challenge on Armstrong before Nuttall made an immediate impact having come off the bench to seal it.
Even after the first goal a Town comeback looked unlikely but after the second the game looked done and dusted, as so often recently. The Blues have now conceded two or more in each of their last 13 Championship games on the road, all but their opening away game at Rotherham which ended 1-0.
Results elsewhere were kind for Town and the Blues remain seven points plus goal difference from safety ahead of next week’s trip Aston Villa, one of only 18 games left to play.
Blackburn: Raya, Bennett (c), Lenihan, Rodwell, Bell, Evans (Smallwood 82), Travis, Reed (Rothwell 46), Dack, Armstrong, Graham (Nuttall 73). Unused: Leutwiler, Nyambe, Brereton, Conway.
Town: Gerken, Pennington, Chambers (c), Collins, Elder, Skuse, Chalobah, Sears (Bishop 83), Judge, Keane, Quaner (Lankester 67). Unused: Bialkowski, Downes, Nsiala, Kenlock, Dawkins. Referee: Darren England (South Yorkshire). Att: 12,762 (Town: 562).
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