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[Archived] News Article -> 2013/14 Match Report: Rovers 3 Millwall 2

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Blackburn Rovers (1) 3 – 2 (1) Millwall
Jordan Rhodes 22, Ben
Marshall 48, David Dunn 85
Martyn Waghorn 42, Steve
Morison 89
Referee: D. Webb Attendance: 12,643
(249 Millwall fans)

My first sight of Millwall came forty-seven years ago when an Eamonn Rogers goal was sufficient to give the Rovers a one–nil win in a closely fought game at Ewood Park in December 1966. The Millwall of 2013 is a completely different creature from that earlier incarnation which boasted the likes of the legendary Harry Cripps and Eamon Dunphy. Instead of the robust football that they were noted for at that time, they are now a slick, quick-moving outfit who play a style of football that is extremely easy on the eye. In many ways they looked the better side for long periods of this encounter, but ultimately the Rovers did enough to grind out a vital victory.

Make no mistake: this was a crucial win for the club and one which not only keeps them on the coattails of the play-off contenders but also, and perhaps just as importantly, puts clear distance between themselves and those in the relegation zone. With three winnable games ahead of them the Rovers might yet make the second half of the campaign an interesting affair.

With Lee Williamson having picked up a knock in training, Gary Bowyer was forced to make a change from the team which had done so well at Loftus Road last week. Josh King returned to the team on the right wing with Tom Cairney switching inside to partner Jason Lowe in the centre of midfield.

As the game began at Ewood the weather was pretty dire with a cold, swirling wind and driving rain and it was no surprise that it took both teams time to adjust to the difficult conditions.

The Rovers had a couple of early efforts with Chris Taylor, against his former club, sending a headed attempt wide, whilst David Forde punched away a Cairney free-kick.

Gradually, the visitors started to enjoy more possession and Martyn Waghorn and Steve Morison began to cause Scott Dann and Grant Hanley a number of problems with their skilful ball control and quick movement. A couple of early corners for Millwall again highlighted the uncertainty in the home defence when balls come into the box.

Millwall looked quite comfortable, when the Rovers hit them on the break with a simple long ball from Hanley which Jordan Rhodes latched onto. The striker took the ball away from Mark Beevers, who lost his footing and slipped to the ground, before firing a perfectly placed shot across Forde and into the corner of the net.

Taylor might have added a second from a Cairney corner, but his effort was off target. However, having recovered their composure after conceding a goal against the run of play, the visitors started to enjoy more possession and got their reward three minutes from the interval. Once again, the Rovers were masters of their own downfall, quite literally in this case, when Hanley slipped and enabled Morison to put the ball across the face of the goal and, on the far post, Waghorn managed to force the ball home from the tightest of angles.

Having already switched King and Taylor during the latter stages of the first half, the interval brought another tactical switch with King reverting to the left wing and Ben Marshall taking the role just behind Rhodes. Within three minutes of the restart the Rovers were ahead when Tommy Spurr's perfect cross was met by the head of Marshall, who seemed to ghost into the area unmarked to plant a firm header past Forde.

Despite taking the lead, the Rovers struggled to contain the quick raids of the visitors and Simon Eastwood was forced to push one effort onto the roof of the net in rather unconvincing fashion.

Both sides made changes as the half ebbed and flowed, with the visitors looking increasingly likely to get on level terms at any minute. Dunn, who had replaced King, created a good chance for Rhodes to seal the game when he put the striker through on goal with just Forde to beat. Unfortunately, the Millwall 'keeper forced Rhodes wide and was then able to save the shot when it finally came in.

However, on eighty-five minutes the game ought to have been won when Dunn marked appearance number 351 with a goal. A corner from Cairney was headed back across goal by Hanley and Rhodes headed it goalwards, with Dunn popping up to head home from close range via the post.

Once again, Rovers' vulnerability on crosses was highlighted on 89 minutes when a routine corner was missed by Eastwood and Morison was on hand at the back post to nod home. Indeed, the Rovers might well have dropped two points just a couple of minutes later when Morison was unable to make a proper connection with the ball and Eastwood was able, with his arm at full stretch, to keep the ball out and so secure the Rovers a priceless win.

Simon Eastwood had a mixed afternoon. His late save ensured the win, but he was badly at fault for the second goal and might have done better with the first. However, his handling was decent and his kicking very good. Nonetheless, one can't help but feel that the return of Paul Robinson will put both Eastwood and Jake Kean under enormous pressure in terms of retaining the number one spot.

Adam Henley had a difficult afternoon against a lively Millwall attack. However, he wasn't alone in that and, once again, looked an impressive prospect at times with some decent tackling and sound attacking play down the right wing.

Scott Dann and Grant Hanley struggled to keep the Millwall pairing of Waghorn and Morison in check and were surprisingly exposed on several occasions with Hanley, in particular, struggling with the fleetness of foot of the Millwall front two.

Tommy Spurr was probably the pick of the back four simply because he did the simple things well and brought a no-nonsense approach to defending.

Josh King started on the right, moved into the centre behind Rhodes and then ended on the left wing as the Rovers looked to find the right attacking combination. Once again, King impressed with his turn of pace, but his final ball left much to be desired.

Jason Lowe filled the defensive role in midfield and, as always, covered plenty of ground and worked hard to try to cover gaps in front of the back four. He kept things ticking over and was quietly very effective in the role.

Tom Cairney was moved into the centre to fill the gap left by Williamson's injury but was strangely ineffective during the first half. He improved after the break, but he didn't seem to influence the game as much as he has done when playing on the right.

Ben Marshall's form continues to improve and he put in another very impressive performance, firstly on the left wing and then providing support in the centre for Rhodes. He used the ball intelligently, was always a threat and snatched a very good goal.

Chris Taylor had a mixed afternoon against his former club. He wasted a couple of good opportunities to find the back of the net and was not as effective as he had been against Leeds and QPR.

Jordan Rhodes had a much better game in terms of his contribution to the team in general and he also scored a superb individual goal. This was undoubtedly his best performance for weeks as he adopted a more physical approach in terms of backing into defenders.

David Dunn looked lively when he came on and, of course, scored the goal which ultimately proved to be the winner.

Rudy Gestede made a brief appearance but wasn't on long enough to really make an impression on the game.


Blackburn Rovers

Simon Eastwood; Adam Henley, Scott Dann, Grant Hanley, Tommy Spurr; Josh King (David Dunn 75), Tom Cairney, Jason Lowe, Ben Marshall; Chris Taylor; Jordan Rhodes (Rudy Gestede 88)
Subs not used: Jake Kean (gk), Todd Kane, Matt Kilgallon, Alex Marrow, Ruben Rochina
Manager: Gary Bowyer


David Forde; Alan Dunne (Justin Hoyte 85), Paul Robinson, Mark Beevers, Scott Malone; Liam Feeney (Jermaine Easter 71), Nadjim Abdou (Andy Keogh 77), Liam Trotter, Martyn Woolford; Martyn Waghorn, Steve Morison
Subs not used: Stephen Bywater (gk), Danny Shittu, Guy Moussi, Scott McDonald
Manager: Steve Lomas


Blackburn Rovers – Chris Taylor

Millwall – Nadjim Abdou, Liam Feeney

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