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Blackburn Rovers 0 v 1 Ipswich Town
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 29th March 2024 Kick-off 17:30
Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Friday, 29th Mar 2024 19:40

The Blues returned to the top of the Championship following a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Conor Chaplin netted the game’s only goal in the ninth minute but the Blues were forced to defend resolutely to see out the three points in the second half as struggling Rovers, who felt wronged by referee Stuart Attwell after three goals were ruled out, put them under the cosh, while Town ought to have been awarded an early penalty.

The Blues made two changes from the team which beat Sheffield Wednesday a fortnight ago, with Chaplin and George Edmundson coming into the side.

Chaplin, who missed the Owls hammering with a back/side strain, effectively took the place of Wes Burns, who is out for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury, with Omari Hutchinson moving to wide on the right from Chaplin’s usual central role.

Centre-half Edmundson came in for Cameron Burgess, who was on the bench having only returned from international duty with Australia on Wednesday evening. Lewis Travis missed out against his parent club.

For Blackburn, January Blues target Sam Gallagher was absent from their 20-man squad through illness, along with Kyle McFadzean and John Buckley, who both had knocks.

Joe Rankin-Costello returned from injury and started along with Ben Chrisene and Tyrhys Dolan, while Hayden Carter was also back in the squad.

As ran fell heavily, the first serious action of the game in the fourth minute saw Blues left-back Leif Davis booked for a foul on Ryan Hedges on the Rovers right. Vaclav Hladky punched away the resultant free-kick and Hutchinson completed the clearance.

Town should have been awarded a penalty a minute later when Nathan Broadhead took skipper Sam Morsy’s clipped ball down with his back to goal just inside the area to the left and was clearly tugged back by Callum Brittain. Neither Premier League referee Attwell or his assistant, who was in a better position to see the incident, saw anything awry.

On six, Harry Pickering joined Davis in referee Attwell’s book for a foul on Hutchinson as the Chelsea loanee burst away on the right.

Town had started positively, and really ought to have been awarded the early penalty, and on nine they went ahead.

Chaplin played a cross-field ball to Davis and the left-back waited before sending over a low ball which the forward, who had by now broken into the area, stroked towards goal, home keeper Aynsley Pears fumbling it into the inside of his net to his right.

While Pears will have felt he should have done better, the wet ball and pitch, and a bounce a couple of yards in front of him, perhaps causing his error, Chaplin celebrated his 13th goal of the season, making him the club’s top scorer ahead of Broadhead on 12, while Davis’s 15th assist of the season is a new outright Championship record for a full-back, how ahead of Kieran Trippier and Barry Douglas.

Town having taken the lead, chances were rare but with the Blues looking well in control. Blackburn had the ball in the net via a scuffed Edmundson clearance away from the line in the 27th minute but with the flag long having been raised for offside.

Two minutes later, Chaplin brought the ball forward to the edge of the box but rather scraped his shot and Pears was able to save.

Town were dictating the game and patiently looking for openings while dispossessing Rovers before they got too far into their half after their attacks.

However, on 33, Rovers thought they’d equalised from a rare foray into the Blues’ final third.

Dolan was sent away on the left and cut back a low ball for Rankin-Costello, who hit a low shot which struck Edmundson on its way into the net. Ewood Park erupted only for a linesman’s flag to go up with replays showing Szmodics standing in front of Hladky in an offside position, obstructing the keeper’s view.

By the letter of the law it looked the correct decision judging by the footage and a similar call could have been made in the East Anglian derby at Portman Road on Jonathan Rowe’s second goal. Nevertheless, it still felt like an escape for Town.

Having made such a promising start, the Blues’ performance had dipped somewhat around the half-hour mark but as the break approached they began to restore their earlier control.

As the half moved into its final scheduled minute ahead of three in additional time, Dolan was yellow-carded for a frustrated trip on Morsy on halfway, the Blackburn forward trying to haul the Town captain from the turf, indicating he felt the Egyptian international had dived, which he clearly hadn’t.

Moments later, after referee Attwell had taken some while to decide that Broadhead had been tripped on the Town left by Sondre Tronstad, Blackburn assistant coach Keith Downing was booked for complaining.

In the final minute of added-on time, Morsy was again fouled, much to the annoyance of the home players and fans, who claimed the Town skipper had been play-acting, however, both looked obvious trips.

At the whistle, boos rang around Ewood Park aimed at referee Attwell, who, along with his assistants, was surrounded by Blackburn players, Dolan, who had not long been booked, making it clear he was remonstrating about the goal.

Away from the half’s two main controversies, the Blues deserved their lead having been in control for large parts of the period, Chaplin once again clinically finishing a typically sharp Town move.

Of the controversial incidents, Town’s penalty looked as obvious as they come from the video footage, although referee Attwell may not have been able to see from his angle behind the incident. His assistant, however, ought to have been well-placed.

Blackburn’s disallowed goal looked harsh from a Rovers perspective as it was debatable whether Szmodics’s positioning had much impact on whether the strike found the net, however, by the letter of the law, it was probably the correct decision.

The home side’s protests regarding the goal at the whistle and the late fouls awarded against them looked like frustration boiling over and other officials might well have shown Dolan a second yellow card for his protests.

Referee Attwell and the Town team were both booed back onto the field ahead of the second half.

The Blues started the second period on the front foot, Chaplin shooting into the side-netting from an angle on the left inside the opening minute.

On 47, after Davis had crossed deep from the left, Chaplin cut in from the right and hit a shot which curled through to Pears, who handled poorly but the ball fortunately fell to Blackburn players rather than any of the Town forwards waiting to pounce.

In the 55th minute, Massimo Luongo, making his 50th league start for the Blues across his two spells, looped a ball into the area from the left of the box but Chaplin looped a header over while stretching.

Town began to put Rovers under pressure, Davis teeing-up Kieffer Moore just inside the area to the left but the Welshman’s first touch let him down and the chance was gone.

But as the hour approached, Blackburn began to look more dangerous and they should have levelled when Hladky batted a Hedges shot out to Chrisene, who waited for the ball to come down to him before lashing home, only for Chaplin to stab it away from him.

Blackburn kept hold of the ball, however, and Szmodics struck a shot which Hladky tipped over the bar.

The Blues had found themselves under the cosh for the first time with the home fans raising the voices to get behind their side. On 62, Rovers switched Brittain and Rankin-Costello for Andrew Moran and Yasin Ayari.

Two minutes later, Town made a triple change with Ali Al-Hamadi, Kayden Jackson and Jeremy Sarmiento replacing Moore, who was tiring following his 120 minutes for Wales in midweek, Chaplin and Broadhead.

Despite the changes, the Blues were struggling to get back to their earlier superiority with Blackburn continuing to see more of the ball in the Town half and Town showing little going forward. On 70, Harry Clarke took over from Davis, booked in the first half and having been penalised for another foul shortly beforehand.

Blackburn had the ball in the net again in the 74th minute. A deep cross was looped in from the right towards the far post, Hladky claimed in the air and the ball was headed out of his hands by Scott Wharton. It ran loose and Moran smashed into the net off the underside of the bar. It had looked an obvious foul on the keeper and referee Attwell had blown up before Moran’s shot hit the net.

Town chances had been rare in a rather ragged second half but on 77, Jackson was played in on the right and cut back to Al-Hamadi but the Iraqi international blazed deep into the stand behind the goal.

On 79, Hladky turned from villain to hero within seconds. The keeper dawdled on the ball inside his six-yard box and was robbed by Szmodics. The former Colchester man sorted his feet out and stroked towards goal only for Hladky to somehow get across to divert the ball wide at full stretch with the back of his right hand.

Luongo was booked in the 81st minute for a foul on Hedges, then three minutes later, Jackson joined him for protesting after the award of the latest of Blackburn’s six second half corners.

Town were still struggling to keep hold of the ball with Rovers continuing to take the game to them. However, the Blues’ backline had remained robust, other than when offences had been committed.

Two minutes from the end of normal time, Sarmiento brought the ball into the Rovers half and fed Jackson breaking on the right. The former Accrington man brought the ball to the edge of the area before hitting a shot across the face and wide.

The fourth official indicating five minutes was met by a similar response by both sets of supporters, Rovers fans wanting more and Town less.

The Blues kept the ball away from their goal for most of the first four minutes of time added on but on 94 a loose ball fell to Pickering on the left of the box, his shot, which looked to be going wide anyway, catching a Town foot on its way wide.

While Rovers waited to take the corner, the Blues swapped Hutchinson, who had been suffering with cramp, for Burgess and Blackburn Pickering for Carter.

The Blues saw out the flag-kick, Burgess nodding away the second ball into the box and moments later, as Al-Hamadi tried to force his way through the Rovers backline, referee Attwell blew his whistle to confirm three points which took Town back to the top of the table, even if it is to be briefly with Leeds in action at Watford this evening.

Nevertheless, whatever happens at Vicarage Road this evening, the Blues made the most of their opportunity following Leicester’s slip-up at Bristol City.

However, it was a far from easy victory. Town had been the better side in the first half and worth of their lead but they were distinctly under par in the second half with Blackburn dominating the ball and pushing them until the final whistle.

The Blues defended resolutely, particularly from set pieces with Luke Woolfenden and Edmundson rarely beaten in the air all evening.

There were heart in the mouth moments, not least the disallowed goals, although referee Attwell appeared to get those right, while Hladky’s zero-to-hero moment was quite extraordinary.

But ultimately, it’s the points that count and the Blues are now up to 84 points, a point ahead of Leeds following their 2-2 draw at Watford and two in front of Leicester, although with the Foxes having a game in hand.

It was Town's first win at Ewood Park since the FA Cup victory in January 1996 and the first in the league since 1991/92, the last time the Blues did the double over Rovers. McKenna's men have now equalled the points, 84, total achieved in that title-winning season.

Town host Southampton, fourth, now 10 points behind the Blues but with two games in hand, on Easter Monday at Portman Road.

Blackburn: Pears, Brittain (Moran 62), Pickering, Hyam (c), Tronstad, Szmodics, Dolan, Rankin-Costello (Ayari 62), Wharton, Hedges (Telalovic 82), Chrisene. Unused: Wahlstedt, Koumetio, Markanday, Gilsenan, Garrett.

Town: Hladky, Tuanzebe, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Davis (Clarke 70), Morsy (c), Luongo, Hutchinson, Chaplin (Jackson 64), Broadhead (Sarmiento 64), Moore (Al-Hamadi 64). Unused: Walton, Burgess, Humphreys, Taylor, Harness. Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire). Att: 18,235 (Town: 4,233).

Photo: Matchday Images

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IpswichT62OldBoy added 19:43 - Mar 29
The Cardiff experience put us in a good position to deal with today.
It could have been 2 draws, this is better.


TimmyH added 19:44 - Mar 29
Got the 3 points and that's all that matters at this point in the season but like the Cardiff game a bit disappointed at the performance particularly going forward (created little) but stood firm although we rode our luck at times (certainly with their disallowed effort). We must improve away if we're to go up automatically.

Chaplin MOTM for his endeavour and shoot on sight policy...we move on but great to be on the top looking down at the rest although maybe only for a couple of hours!

martin587 added 19:44 - Mar 29
3 Points…Enough said.

Westy added 19:47 - Mar 29
What a fantastic result. Well done lads. Come on Watford!

LimerickTractorBoy added 19:48 - Mar 29
3 priceless points, next.

blueboy1981 added 19:48 - Mar 29
Has to be said, a nondescript performance and somewhat fortunate three points - but they all Count, and sometimes necessary to Win Ugly !! - and we did.

chepstowblue added 19:49 - Mar 29
On seeing Troy Deeney and Nigel Pearson in the studio, and then realising we had a female commentator, I knew it was gonna be a tough watch. An awful performance then followed. For weeks my 'neutral' mates have been remarking that we are 'dogsh*t'. It aptly describes this showing. But somehow we grind it out despite inviting a very poor opposition an equaliser. But thankfully we were helped by some ridiculously soft refereeing decisions. I'm sure I'll find some crumbs of comfort when I analyse it more thoroughly. Being top papers over it for now, but performances like this will not see us over the line. Sorry for the honesty.

Flamencaman added 19:51 - Mar 29
I think chappers sold the goalie a googly as he slightly misfit with outside of his boot,i think it spun when it hit the floor to goalies right just enough

warktheline added 19:51 - Mar 29
A huge 3 points! The boys dug in deep and kept a clean sheet….a reality check for some, that’s for sure! What an amazing season.

KMANSers added 19:51 - Mar 29
3 points enough said- rode our luck, but do we need to constantly hear about the off side goal tgat was disallowed for them? Nothing much mentioned on Broadhead being pulled down in area!!!

Bert added 19:52 - Mar 29
Phew, that was a difficult watch second half but it’s another three points. Not sure why we gave up so much possession but our professional approach in a difficult game won through. The dream is still alive

Broadbent23 added 19:52 - Mar 29
Top of the league for now. In automatic places tonight. It was not pretty but we held firm. Blackburn needed to win and our defence did well. Hladky gave us a few scares. Unfortunately too many booking for us. Let's give Southampton a stuffing on Monday. Keep on believing.

johnwarksshorts added 19:53 - Mar 29
What a horrible 2nd half, but 3 points in the bag that's all that matters.

Jcb2007 added 19:55 - Mar 29
My nerves are shredded as are probably the 4000 massive away supporters after that. Our subs looked off the pace today and invited the pressure. What a massive recovery save that was. Leif looked like he had a spot of man flu. Roll on Monday, Southampton supporters in my house. Glad we are at home as the home support is our 12th man. Fortress PR.

Bramidan added 19:57 - Mar 29
The harder we work the luckier we get.

inghamspur added 19:58 - Mar 29
Hanging on a bit there!!

Gforce added 20:05 - Mar 29
Get in there !!
Another three points on Monday please.

kwakaboy added 20:11 - Mar 29
Great result, that’l do nicely.
SKY really pushed the boat out for us tonight two inept pundits and a commentator who did not have a clue what was going on. I’m not sexist but ……

SpiritOfJohn added 20:16 - Mar 29
It wasn't pretty but we did enough to win and the defence stood firm when under pressure. Great effort from Moore after Tuesday's disappointment, and Edmundson does so well when required. Hard fought wins are good for squad morale but not so good for the old ticker.

Rimsy added 20:16 - Mar 29
Hard fought win. Just about deserved the points. I have a feeling our lack of depth is what will do us. Omari limped off, if he's injured we really are bare bones up top again. Like to see Taylor given a go at 10, a bit of aggression and shoot on sight.

blueboy1981 added 20:18 - Mar 29
We really did nothing to impress anyone to be honest - I’m still wondering how we managed to actually leave will three points …. !!

EssexTractor added 20:19 - Mar 29
Having totally dominated the first half when we should have led by more than one but , from 60 minutes on we battled but our play was ragged our efforts nondescript Hearts in mouth time . We were we exhausted by then , even Sami disappeared from the fray when he had been masterful in first half
But we fortunately got the three much need points and onward
As for Sky , Nigel Pearsons comments were ludicrous about disallowed goal given where Szmodics was positioned , how many times was that replayed ?
Yet when Broadhead had his shirt pulled in penalty area no comment
Ok we weren’t good , but certain media people don’t really want us to be
But look at the table .

muhrensleftfoot added 20:21 - Mar 29
Didn’t enjoy watching it but what a great 3 points! In the last 8 games points are more important than performances! Come on you Blues. Brilliant!!

SickParrot added 20:23 - Mar 29
Happy with the result of course, but not the performance. We were comfortable first half without creating many chances but the second half performance was very poor and we were fortunate to win in the end. Can't fault the effort of the players and there was some resolute defending but there was very little quality on the ball and far too many sloppy first touches. Although we've only lost 4 away games, we have looked uncomfortable for long spells in many games. Most recently we were poor at Cardiff and poor again today. We will need to be much better in our remaining away games.

Marinersnose added 20:24 - Mar 29
Performance is secondary but 3 points was necessary. Let’s move on to Monday. Hopefully Leif has recovered sufficiently.

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