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[Archived] Match Report: Blackburn Rovers 2 - 0 Ipswich Town

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Parsonblue's match report from the Ipswich Town game:

Saturday 3rd October 2015 – Football League Championship

Blackburn Rovers 2 v 0 Ipswich Town

Blackburn Rovers (2) 2

Rhodes (penalty) 12, Rhodes 16

Jason Steele; Adam Henley, Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson; Ben Marshall, Corry Evans, Hope Akpan, Craig Conway; Tom Lawrence (Lee Williamson 90); Jordan Rhodes.

Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Tommy Spurr, Nathan Delfouneso, Chris Taylor, Sacha Petshi, Darragh Lenihan.

Manager: Gary Bowyer

Charlton Athletic (0) 0

Dean Gerken; Luke Chambers, Tommy Smith, Christophe Berra, Jonathan Parr; Larsen Toure (David McGoldrick 53), Cole Skuse, Jonathan Douglas, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Brett Pitman 59); Freddie Sears, Daryl Murphy (Tommy Oar 82).

Subs not used: Bartosz Bialkowski (gk), Kevin Bru, Piotr Malarczyk, Josh Emmanuel.

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Referee: Mr. A. Marriner

Bookings: Blackburn Rovers – Corry Evans, Grant Hanley

Ipswich Town – Larsen Toure, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Christophe Berra

Attendance: 12,672

As the Rovers head into another of these interminable international breaks they do so in excellent spirits after a convincing win over one of the sides tipped to feature in the play-off places. However, on the day, Mick McCarthy’s side had no answer to the high energy, pressing game which Rovers have combined with some exquisite football in recent weeks. The marked change in style since the departure of Rudy Gestede has taken time to reap the rewards that is has deserved, although those who watch them every week know that the performances have deserved far more than the points that have been accumulated thus far. Fortunately, the performances are now beginning to be rewarded with points as the Rovers climb away from the relegation zone to the calmer waters of mid-table. In a division which seems tighter than ever you are only ever a couple of defeats away from a relegation dogfight or a couple of wins away from a chase for the play-offs and so it is with both of the teams on view in this game.

With Danny Guthrie ruled out with injury, Gary Bowyer kept faith with Hope Akpan, who had been so impressive as a substitute at Hull, as his replacement in what was an otherwise unchanged starting eleven.

The Rovers made the perfect start with Akpan looking prominent in midfield. A surging run down the left wing saw the midfielder play the ball into Craig Conway before it was blocked by a defender for a corner. Marshall then had a shout for a penalty waved away after an effort seemed to have struck the arm of a visiting defender. However, minutes later Akpan picked up a loose ball in the area and was brought down from behind by Larsen Toure as he drove towards the goal. Mr. Marriner had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Jordan Rhodes sent Dean Gerken the wrong way as he coolly dispatched the penalty with only twelve minutes gone.

Four minutes later the Rovers had doubled their lead when Rhodes rose above Luke Chambers and met Craig Conway’s corner with a glancing header which beat Gerken and flew into the top corner of the net.

Ipswich responded after eighteen minutes with a free-kick which Ainsley Maitland-Niles merely blasted into the wall of blue and white shirts. However, it was the Rovers who were dominating possession and on twenty-two minutes another flowing move ended with Rhodes putting Marcus Olsson clear and the Swedish international lofted the ball over Gerken only for a linesman’s flag to rule the goal out because of a very close offside decision.

Another Ipswich free-kick was headed clear by Shane Duffy whilst Olsson and Conway combined down the left wing before Olsson’s cross was headed clear.

The Rovers were putting Ipswich under pressure whenever they had the ball and nothing epitomised this more than the sight of Tom Lawrence running twenty-five yards or more to tackle Jonathan Parr as he dwelt on the ball.

In truth, the visitors looked completely inept in front of goal and a shot from Jonathan Douglas flew well wide. Indeed, it was hard to believe that the Douglas who was on show for Ipswich was the same man who had been such a dominant figure for Brentford last season. The former Rover looked slow and completely overwhelmed by the quick movement of Corry Evans and Akpan in the centre of the park.

Ben Marshall played in Conway but his shot was blocked for a corner which Grant Hanley headed wide under pressure from an Ipswich defender.

On forty-minutes, Conway fired a long range effort just wide and three minutes later an Akpan cross was just over Conway, who had dashed in at the far post in an attempt to reach it.

The closest that the visitors came to scoring was when Daryl Murphy struck a twenty-five yard effort with sufficient power that Jason Steele was forced to dive full-length to push it away for a corner which Akpan and Evans cleared between them.

Ipswich came out with a more determined approach in the second-half and put several balls into the Rovers area but Duffy, in particular, was outstanding and won everything that was thrown into the Rovers box.

The Rovers, with a two goal advantage, looked to soak up the early pressure and then hit the visitors on the break and they created several more opportunities. Lawrence and Evans had shots blocked whilst Olsson and Akpan both sent in crosses which proved to be just inches too high for their intended targets.

Once again, the Rovers’ players were looking comfortable in possession and using the ball intelligently to retain possession and move the Ipswich defence around. Rhodes was causing all sorts of problems with his movement and Christophe Berra struggled to get to grips with him without hacking or pushing him down.

The Rovers might well have scored a third when Evans played a lovely pass into the path of Rhodes who shot from the edge of the area only to see the ball strike the woodwork and bounce clear.

Berra, was eventually booked for yet another foul on Rhodes whilst Duffy raised a cheer when he charged forward before having his shot blocked.

On sixty-three minutes, Steele made another good save when he tipped a forty-yard effort from Luke Chambers away. However, at the other end Evans, who was having another outstanding game, played a lovely pass into the path of Adam Henley who had got in behind the defence and found himself in the area in a one-on-one situation with Gerken. Sadly, when Henley tried to fire the ball past him the Ipswich ‘keeper made a save with his legs.

Rhodes then forced a corner which Hanley headed over whilst Rhodes sent in a bullet like header from a Conway free-kick which seemed a goal all the way until Gerken produced a wonder save to get fingertips to the ball and deflect it for a corner.

Rovers continued to work tirelessly at closing the visitors down and, although they were a little deeper in the second half, they were rarely troubled by an Ipswich side which looked a well beaten outfit by the end.

Undoubtedly, this was the most complete performance of the season and one which the manager and players deserve full credit for. Ipswich were out-thought and out-fought from the word go. Rovers continued with the rich vein of form that they seem to have found since that half-time interval at Craven Cottage a few weeks ago.

Jason Steele didn’t have much to do but when called upon he was excellent. Adam Henley and Marcus Olsson proved to be a real handful going forward whilst they were sound in defence. Henley had a much better game than of late whilst Olsson again demonstrated that he is, without question, the number one left-back at the club.

Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley kept things tight in the centre of defence although Hanley had one or two moments of indecision. Duffy was outstanding in the air and won everything as he totally dominated the Ipswich attack.

It was in midfield where the Rovers really had the edge over their visitors. Corry Evans and Hope Akpan covered every blade of grass and both looked to get forward at every opportunity. Akpan’s forward runs caused the visitors problems early on and led to the penalty from which the Rovers opened the scoring. Evans continually probed with a succession of clever passes which put his colleagues in behind the defence. Evans, at the moment, is showing the best form of his entire time at Ewood.

Ben Marshall and Craig Conway caused problems down the flanks for Ipswich and their ability to cut inside meant the defence was never quite sure what angle the ball would be delivered from. Both worked hard to help out defensively which gave Henley and Olsson the opportunity to use their pace to get forward.

In attack, Jordan Rhodes was simply outstanding. Not only because he notched another two goals, but the fact that his general play was so good. He bullied the Ipswich defence with his aggression and energy and his movement off the ball was first class. This was the performance of not just a goal poacher but a proper centre-forward and long may it continue.

Tom Lawrence proved an able support for Rhodes. His pace and clever passing caused Ipswich a number of problems and often he drifted off Rhodes to play in the hole and the visitors struggled to pick him up. Although a little lightweight, he plays with an intelligence that more than compensates for lack of physique. One can only hope that the Rovers can persuade Leicester to extend his loan as he could well be a key player for the club this season.

A word of praise too for the much maligned manager. Bowyer has had to reinvent the team following the departure of Gestede and now looks to have done so successfully. There is far more reliance on passing and working the ball through midfield rather than the long punt aimed at the front runner. The players he has brought in seemed to have enhanced this system and to some extent this is finally Bowyer’s team following the departure of the likes of Paul Robinson and Leon Best in the summer. Whilst it is too early to say if they are capable of making up lost ground on the top six there is no doubt that they look more than capable of being competitive in the Championship.

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Good report Parson.

Whilst I agree with Duffy being good in the air defensively, I feel there's work to do with his attacking heading of the ball!

Yes - he's so dominant in the air if he was better at directing the ball 5-10 goals a season would be a very achievable target. Arguably he should already have 2 or 3 but he keeps on skying even totally free headers. They must be working on it at the training ground.

Another point is all the way through the Premier League era corners were a massive frustration even under set piece king Allardyce. Not beating the first man, drifting over the back etc. Maybe Its just because the defences are poorer in the Championship, but nearly every time Conway delivers it you feel confident of a quality ball. Good on him.

Great match report Parson. Incredible effort with these - each one must take a few hours. Hugely appreciated and very well written as always.

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