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    Milton Keynes Dons 3 v 0 Blackburn Rovers - by Parsonblue
    Milton Keynes Dons (1) 3
    Reeves (penalty) 11, Church 71, Reeve 89
    David Martin; Jordan Spence, Kyle McFadzean, Antony Kay, Dean Lewington; Jake Forster-Caskey, Diego Poyet; Rob Hall (Carl Baker 63), Ben Reeves, Josh Murphy (Samir Carruthers 86); Simon Church (Nicky Maynard 77).
    Subs not used: Charlie Burns (gk), Lee Hodson, Sam Gallagher, Daniel Powell.
    Manager: Karl Robinson
    Blackburn Rovers (0) 0
    Jason Steele; Adam Henley (sent off 9), Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson (Tommy Spurr 86); Ben Marshall, Corry Evans (Lee Williamson 68), Hope Akpan (Nathan Delfouneso 68), Craig Conway; Tom Lawrence; Jordan Rhodes.
    Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Matt Kilgallon, John O’Sullivan, Chris Taylor.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
    Referee: Mr. J. Linington
    Bookings: MK Dons – Diego Poyet, Rob Hall
    Blackburn Rovers – Hope Akpan, Ben Marshall
    Sending off: Blackburn Rovers – Adam Henley
    Attendance: 11,548
    The Rovers faced an uphill task from the tenth minute of this encounter – being reduced to ten men and falling behind to a penalty – but to their credit they dominated the opening stages of the second half until a second goal in the seventy-first minute settled the destination of the points.
    The Rovers were unchanged for what was only their second visit to the stadiumMK and their first for a League encounter.
    The Rovers received an early warning that the home side were not as poor as their League position would suggest when Rob Hall turned Grant Hanley and fired in a shot which Jason Steele did well to turn away for a corner.  At the other end David Martin rushed out of his goal to clatter Jordan Rhodes to the ground when the striker looked to break away.  Surprisingly, for such a cynical challenge, Mr. Linington failed to produce a yellow card but minutes later he produced a red with a certain amount of indecent haste.
    The defining moment of the match came as early as the tenth minute when Mr. Linington awarded a penalty and produced a red card after Adam Henley and Josh Murphy had clashed as the latter entered the penalty area.  Henley, in truth, was the architect of his own downfall when he got the wrong side of Murphy and then compounded the error by trying to block the on loan Norwich winger as he entered the area.  The fact that Murphy was felled in the area was clear for all to see but less clear was the point at which the contact was first made.  Of course, football continues to dwell in the dark ages and turns its back on the type of technology which so many other sports benefit from and so we continue to rely on the guesswork of numerous hapless officials.  Hence we have goals punched in with the hand being allowed and “goals†which cross the line being disallowed.  In a multi-million pound sport it is embarrassing that such basic mistakes are allowed to determine the outcome of games.
    With the spot kick being given, Ben Reeves stepped up and made no mistake as he sent Steele the wrong way and calmly slotted the ball home.
    Bowyer made the necessary tactical changes following the dismissal of Henley which meant that Ben Marshall went to right-back whilst Tom Lawrence moved over to the right flank with Rhodes being asked to plough a lone furrow up front.
    The Rovers took time to adjust to the changes and the home side tried to take full advantage of the extra man and only a deflection off Shane Duffy prevented Murphy from increasing the lead.
    However, although MK Dons were closing down and harrying the Rovers when in possession chances were restricted as the Rovers began to get back into the game.  Indeed, they might have been level if the officials had taken action when the arm of Anthony Kay clearly felled Rhodes in the penalty area.  Inexplicably, neither the linesman nor the referee saw anything although it was a clear foul in the penalty area but, sadly, that seems to be the way the Rovers luck seems destined to go this season.
    On twenty-two minutes Marcus Olsson lofted a ball into the box which Martin claimed with supreme confidence and then Lawrence was felled by Hall, who was rightly booked, as he looked to make inroads in the opposition half.
    The Rovers were struggling to get to grips with Murphy and Marshall was having a torrid time trying to contain him.  However, on thirty-seven minutes it was Jake Forster-Caskey who almost doubled the home side’s lead.  Set up by Hall, Forster-Caskey fired in a well struck effort which Steele did well to beat away.
    A minute later and play switched to the other end when Conway crossed to the far post but the ball was just too high for Rhodes to get sufficient power on his header to trouble Martin and the ball merely glanced off his head and went behind for a goal kick.
    The Rovers found themselves in trouble again when Duffy was caught on the ball by Simon Church on the right of the Rovers’ area.  Church brushed the centre-back off the ball and then went straight for goal before he curled his shot just wide of the far post.  It was yet another individual error which could have proved so costly.
    As the half drew to a close a shot from Murphy was deflected safely into the arms of Steele and the Rovers left the pitch having survived unscathed after playing all but ten minutes with ten men.   Whilst there might have been little attacking intent to enthuse about the players had succeeded in staying in the game.
    The second half brought a more spirited response from the Rovers in an attacking sense.  Within the opening minutes, following good work from Hope Akpan, Conway had whipped in a cross into the area which Martin collected.
    A superb move down the left, on fifty-eight minutes, involving Olsson and Akpan ended with the ball being pulled back to Conway but his shot was blocked and so too was an effort from Evans when the ball came out to him.
    Another incisive move saw Evans find Conway on the left and his inch-perfect cross found the head of Rhodes who powered the ball goalwards only to see Martin make a save at point-blank range to deny him.
    Olsson and Akpan again combined well down the left and Akpan cut into the area only for a last ditch tackle to prevent him from getting his shot away.  Duffy then met a cross from Conway but although he headed the ball back across the goalmouth there was nobody there to get on the end of it for Rovers.
    Conway then tricked his way inside from the wing but his shot was deflected wide of goal for a corner.  Before the corner could be taken Bowyer made a double substitution with Evans and Akpan being replaced by Williamson and Delfouneso.  Evans, who had missed the previous international with injury was carrying a knock, whilst Akpan was presumably withdrawn having already been booked and with Mr. Linginton’s officiating so erratic the manager clearly didn’t want to risk another red card.  Whilst the decision protected the players for future matches it proved to be the turning point in this particular game although the Rovers might well have been on level terms from the corner which had been delayed for the substitutions.  When the ball came over Duffy met it with a powerful header which was cleared off the line by Forster-Caskey.
    The new central midfield partnership of Williamson and Lawrence had barely time to find their feet before the home side doubled their lead.  With the Rovers pressing for an equaliser it was always a danger that they would be caught on the break and so it proved.  Murphy, not for the first time, left Marshall in his wake and then found the perfect centre for Church to head home from no more than six yards out.
    Murphy then teased Duffy back into his own area before skipping past him with consummate ease but, fortunately, his shot flew just past the far post
    Steele kept out a header from Nicky Maynard with a splendid one-handed save but, in truth, the second goal had ended the game as a contest and  it came as no surprise when MK Dons added a third goal in the final minutes.  The third goal was the result some excellent one-touch play by Carl Baker and Forster-Caskey which enabled Reeves to get in behind the Rovers back line and beat Steele with ease.
    Whilst the result was hugely disappointing from the Rovers point of view there were, nonetheless, positives to take from the performance, particularly in the second half.  Once again the Rovers were left to question some refereeing decisions which seemed erratic to say the least although it has to be admitted that Henley contributed to his own downfall with some poor positional play.  Defensively, the Rovers looked fragile at times with Duffy having a poor game and Marshall completely overwhelmed by the exemplary wing play of Josh Murphy.
    In midfield the Rovers fought valiantly with Akpan taking the game to the MK Dons after the break and, in truth, once he and Evans departed the Rovers struggled to make any impact.  Lawrence operated in three different positions and that seemed to lessen his impact whilst Rhodes as asked to plough a lone furrow up front and struggled at times to get into the game.  Steele produced a number of excellent saves whilst Conway was always a threat down the left.  However, this was an afternoon to forget for the Rovers as they now prepare for two tough games against two sides who are highly fancied to fill the promotion places come the end of the season.
    Saturday 3rd October 2015 – Football League Championship
    Blackburn Rovers 2 v 0 Ipswich Town - by Parsonblue
    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
    Ipswich Town (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.
    Blackburn Rovers Vs Ipswich Town
    Ewood Park

    By DE.
    Saturday 3rd October sees Rovers welcome Ipswich Town to Ewood Park for the fourth time since our relegation from the Premier League. Ipswich currently sit 7th in the table with 15 points, whilst Rovers occupy 18th spot having managed 8 points out of 9 games.
    Despite an extremely poor start to the season, Rovers are finally beginning to show signs of life. Jordan Rhodes’ return to the team and return to form has given the club a much needed boost, and Rovers finally claimed their first win of the season against a dismal Charlton side in our last home encounter. That 3-0 win was followed by a credible 1-1 draw away to Hull City, meaning Rovers have picked up 5 points out of the last 9 available. This has propelled the club to the lofty heights of 18th, but still only one point outside of the relegation zone.
    Nonetheless, Rovers are picking up a little momentum at a time when Ipswich have lost theirs, making the East Anglian side’s trip to Ewood an interesting prospect and a match Rovers must aim to take all three points from.
    The Opposition
    Prior to this season, Ipswich and Rovers have found themselves in similar positions, generally occupying spots just outside the playoff places.
    Managed by the experienced Mick McCarthy, Ipswich performed slightly above expectations last season and managed a 6th placed finish, sneaking into the playoffs. They were knocked out at the first hurdle by East Anglian rivals Norwich City, who would go on to defeat Middlesbrough in the final and secure promotion to the Premier League. The semi-final defeat was a bitter blow for Ipswich, but not wholly unexpected, with Norwich having a much stronger and vastly more expensive squad.
    The club started this season well and topped the table in the early stages, carrying on their form from the previous season. After an opening day draw with Brentford, they went on to achieve impressive home victories against Sheffield Wednesday and the six-fingered ones, also beating Preston and hammering Doncaster 4-1 in the cup. However, their momentum has since stalled and a home loss to Brighton was followed by a 5-1 away thumping by promotion rivals Reading. Former Rover Nick Blackman had a fantastic match, getting on the scoresheet as Ipswich were humbled by their opponents. Despite beating Leeds 1-0 in the next match, Ipswich could only manage two home draws in their following league encounters against Birmingham and Bristol City. They were also dumped out of the League Cup, losing 3-0 to a strong Manchester United side. Ipswich have only managed 5 points out of the last 15, a return which has caused them to drop just outside the playoff places.
    Daryl Murphy was the club’s talisman last season, notching 27 league goals during the campaign and helping to push them into the playoff positions. Despite signing a new contract during the summer, Murphy has found form and fitness difficult to come by so far this season. Last season’s top goalscorer for Ipswich is yet to find the net this season, and has recently found himself on the bench as he regains match fitness. The Ipswich squad contains few recognisable names to the average fan, with McCarthy opting to build a squad of hard workers as opposed to big names. David McGoldrick is one of Ipswich’s better known players, and despite having excellent spells of form, the experienced striker has found fitness hard to come by over the past couple of seasons. He managed 14 goals in the 13/14 season, but could only accumulate 26 appearances and score 7 goals in an injury-hampered 14/15 campaign. He has so far bagged 3 goals in the current campaign, with 2 in the league and 1 in the cup. Other recognisable names in the Town squad are veteran centre-back Christophe Berra and former West Ham United striker Freddie Sears, who has currently scored 4 goals in 9 appearances this term – all in the league.
    Town have been cautious in the transfer market over the last few years. Although in past seasons reclusive owner Marcus Evans backed Roy Keane and Paul Jewell to the tune of around £20m, it ultimately gained the club very little and before McCarthy took charge they were in danger of being taken down to League One under Jewell’s stewardship. Having had his fingers burned, Evans has drastically tightened the purse strings at Portman Road, leaving McCarthy with the difficult task of improving the team on a shoestring budget. This summer saw promising young defender Tyrone Mings depart for Premier League new boys Bournemouth. He was Bournemouth’s record signing at £8m, but would go on to break his leg on his debut, effectively ruling him out for the rest of the season.
    McCarthy has seen little of the money gained from Mings’ sale, instead operating under the same tight conditions as previous seasons. A shrewd operator in the transfer market, McCarthy has secured former Bournemouth striker Brett Pitman on a free transfer, whilst picking up pacy young Arsenal winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Fraser on loan. Danish left-back Jonas Knudsen was snapped up for £350k, whilst former Rover Jonathan Douglas also joined the club on a free transfer at the age of 33. Relative unknowns Larsen Toure and Tommy Oar were also picked up on free transfers and have played some part in the campaign. Ipswich were buoyed by last season’s top goalscorer Daryl Murphy and 27 year old striker David McGoldrick both signing new contracts in the summer.
    Ipswich are the Championship’s longest serving team, having spent 14 seasons in the division since their relegation from the Premier League in 2002. Having overspent on ground maintenance and player wages during their time in the top flight, Ipswich found themselves in administration shortly after dropping into the second tier. Although still heavily in debt, the club came out of administration during the 03/04 season. Local businessman Marcus Evans would take over ownership of the club in 2007, providing new capital in a bid to revitalise the club’s fortunes.
    The likes of Jim Magilton and Joe Royle were unable to take Ipswich back to the promised land, whilst Roy Keane and Paul Jewell very nearly condemned them to relegation. Since arriving at Ipswich, Mick McCarthy and assistant Terry Connor have gone about rebuilding the team under difficult circumstances and have slowly but surely implemented a rigid but effective playing style that has gradually pushed the club up the table and given the fans hope that promotion could be achieved in the near future. Financial restrictions make the task a tricky one, but in McCarthy Ipswich have a manager who knows how to get the best out of limited players and the ability to supplement the team with cheap, relatively unknown additions.
    Town are one of few clubs in the league whose debt-level surpassed Rovers as of last published accounts, with the figure at that time standing at -£86m. With a higher wage bill and overall running costs, Rovers have likely since overtaken Ipswich in this area, though both clubs owe significant financial debts to their owners.
    Ipswich are a team that prefer playing at home, often struggling on their travels. Last season Ipswich accrued 78 points, with 50 of those coming at home. Ipswich only managed 7 away victories last season despite finishing 6th. This season has seen some improvement. Although they were dismantled by Reading at the Madejski Stadium, Ipswich have otherwise started the season with good away form, picking up a draw at Brentford and gaining victories over Leeds and Preston.
    Player Links
    The one Rovers player with a significant link to Ipswich Town is goal-machine Jordan Rhodes. After his father joined Town as a coach in 04/05, Rhodes was scouted at the local Kesgrave High School and brought into the youth ranks of the club. After scoring over 40 goals at reserve and youth level, Rhodes made his debut for Town in the 07/08 season and scored his first senior goal for the club in April against Cardiff City. The next season Rhodes would be sent out to Oxford, Rochdale and Brentford on loan, scoring 9 goals in 23 appearances for all three clubs. In the summer of 2009, Roy Keane shocked Ipswich fans by deciding to sell Rhodes to League One team Huddersfield for a measly £350,000, though a sell-on fee was included. Rhodes would go on to score 73 goals in 124 appearances for Huddersfield, and was then sold to Rovers for £8m, where he has continued his incredible goalscoring form. Meanwhile, his replacement at Ipswich, Tamas Priskin, was signed for £2.1m and managed 5 goals in 51 appearances before being released in January 2012. Suffice to say this was not Roy Keane’s finest moment as a manager, and he would go on to admit in his autobiography that selling Rhodes was one of his biggest regrets from his time at Ipswich.
    Meanwhile, former Rover Jonathan Douglas is amongst the opposition’s ranks. The Irishman joined Rovers in 2000 as a 19 year old. He suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2001, and upon his return would spend most of the next couple of seasons on loan to Chesterfield and Blackpool. The majority of Douglas’ playing time came under Graeme Souness, who awarded him a new three year contract just before he left for Newcastle. Souness’ successor, Mark Hughes, did not see Douglas as part of his plans and loan spells at Gillingham and Leeds followed – the latter would become a permanent transfer in 2006. Douglas amassed 148 appearances for Leeds, mostly in League One, scoring 10 goals during that time. He was released in 2009 and was picked up by League One team Swindon Town. Douglas made 84 appearances for Swindon, scoring one goal. He was named the club’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season in 09/10, but the following season Swindon were relegated and Douglas rejected a new contract. In summer 2011 he signed for another League One team, Brentford, and would go on to make 169 appearances and score 17 goals in 5 successful years at the club. He was the Supporters’ Player of the Season during their 11/12 League One campaign and played a significant role in the team that got promoted to the Championship in 13/14. Douglas was released after the 14/15 season ended, and at 33 years old signed on a free transfer for Ipswich Town, where he has currently made 4 appearances.
    Ipswich have played Rovers six times since the clubs began sharing divisional status in the 2012/13 season. In fact, Rovers’ first game in the Championship following our relegation was a trip to Portman Road, where the highlight of an otherwise dour game of football in the sweltering heat was the relentless booing and chanting from the Rovers fans, aimed at Brunei’s favourite son Steve “SteveKean†Kean.
    Portman Road has not been a happy hunting ground for Rovers, with only 2 points picked up out of a possible 9 over three seasons. 12/13 saw a 1-1 draw, with Kazim-Richards scoring for Rovers before Jason Lowe equalised for Ipswich with an own goal. 13/14 saw Ipswich put Rovers to the sword with a 3-1 victory - Rhodes netting a solitary consolation for the away side. 14/15 produced another 1-1 draw, David McGoldrick putting Ipswich ahead before Ben Marshall scored a late equaliser to rescue a point for the Rovers.
    The trip to Ewood, meanwhile, has remained a daunting prospect for Ipswich. In three seasons they have not picked up a single point from Rovers at Ewood Park. In 12/13 Rovers won by a single goal, scored by who else but Jordan Rhodes. With this, the young striker had scored in seven consecutive matches, a feat only achieved by four other players in the club’s history. It marked three wins on the bounce for Rovers, a feat that seems almost impossible in recent times. This was the height of Michael Appleton’s short tenure, and amazingly only a month later Appleton was removed from his position after a sharp decline in form. 13/14 saw a comfortable 2-0 win for Rovers, with Rhodes and Rudy Gestede both getting on the scoresheet. It ended a poor run for Rovers, and was the 13th clean sheet of the season, another statistic that seems very much beyond the current team. It also marked Rhodes’ 50th goal for the club. 14/15 saw a more competitive match, but Rovers still came out on top with a 3-2 victory. Town came racing out of the blocks and took a 1-0 lead through Daryl Murphy. Rovers responded strongly and by the 60th minute were 3-1 ahead, with Rhodes, Gestede and Conway firing Rovers in front. Ipswich grabbed a late consolation through a Daryl Murphy penalty, but were unable to draw the game level. This result could have cost Ipswich, as this was the last game of the season and their playoff status was not yet secured. Fortunately for them, other results went their way, but their good fortune did not last and they would go on to lose to Norwich in the playoff semi-finals.
    Overall, Rovers have a favourable record against Ipswich over the past few years. In six matches the Rovers have picked up 11 points out of a possible 18, whilst Ipswich have only picked up 5 from 18. All of Ipswich’s points have come at Portman Road, whilst 9 of ours have come from Ewood. Rovers rarely have trouble scoring against Town, having scored at least one goal in all six games. Ipswich, however, have fired blanks twice at Ewood Park over the last three seasons.
    Former Town player Rhodes enjoys scoring against his former club, having notched 4 goals in the 6 matches he has played against Ipswich thus far in Rovers’ colours. With Rhodes beginning to hit his stride again this season, Ipswich fans will no doubt be dreading their ex-striker coming back to haunt them again on Saturday.
    So far this season Ipswich have scored 15 goals, but unusually for a Mick McCarthy side they have been defensively poor and also leaked 15 goals. Rovers meanwhile find themselves in a similar situation, having scored 10 but also conceded 10. Ipswich are joint-second top scorers in the division, suggesting that Rovers’ unreliable backline is likely to be breached at some point during the afternoon. However, Ipswich are also joint-fourth in goals conceded, meaning Jordan Rhodes has a good chance of adding to his current tally of five goals in seven appearances.
    I coerced my colleague and lifelong Town fan Rob into answering a few pre-match questions…
    It’s been a decent start to the season for Ipswich, how do you rate your season so far and what aspirations do Town fans have for the season?
    We’ve started okay, but recent form is a bit worrying. We’re conceding a lot of goals which needs to be sorted out. Most Town fans would be happy with a playoff spot again, but on our budget a top half finish would be alright.
    Mick McCarthy is the type of manager many Rovers fans feel is needed at Ewood Park. What are your thoughts on him?
    Considering he’s had practically nothing to spend, he’s done a great job. The football can be very dull at times, but at home especially it seems to work. After Keane and Jewell nearly wrecked the club, most fans are just happy to have somebody decent in charge.
    Any thoughts on Gary Bowyer?
    I don’t know much about him to be honest. Seems like a decent bloke, but other than that no real opinion, sorry!
    What about Rovers? What have you made of us over the past few seasons?
    I remember looking at your team when we faced you at the start of the 12/13 season and thinking you could easily walk the league. Obviously that didn’t happen! We never get anything at Ewood so I don’t look forward to this fixture. Jordan Rhodes always scores against us too!
    On that note, Jordan Rhodes – wish you still had him?
    Of course! But I think we would have eventually sold him anyway, for a lot less than your owners are willing to accept. £350k was ridiculous though and a lot of Town fans still resent Roy Keane for that sale.
    Any views on Venky’s?
    They seemed absolutely clueless at the beginning, but haven’t heard much about them lately. They aren’t the first foreign owners to wreck a football club and sadly won’t be the last. I hope for your sake the club finds itself in a better pair of hands in the near future.
    Are you happy with Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans?
    We’d like him to give McCarthy a bit more to spend, but he wasted a lot of money on Keane and Jewell so can understand his reluctance. Has done the hard part by bringing in a decent manager, and is keeping us afloat for now.
    One comparison that can be made between Rovers and Ipswich is high debt levels – do they concern you at all?
    Not really, to be honest with you. Nobody really talks about that. I think most of it is owed to Marcus Evans anyway. I’m not sure many fans know or care about the club’s debt.
    Which Town players should we be worried about?
    Freddie Sears has been in good form lately, and the kid we’ve got from Arsenal has pace which can really hurt teams. Ryan Fraser has looked decent as well. Obviously Murphy and McGoldrick are always a threat, but I don’t know if either will start. Both of them have fitness issues at the moment.
    Which Rovers players are you worried about?
    It goes without saying really… Jordan Rhodes. Always scores against us. Glad you sold Gestede though as he’d give our defence nightmares.
    Before I ask your prediction – how does it feel to be the longest serving team in the Championship?
    I enjoy the league as it’s unpredictable and you can still catch a glimpse of some good players. Am quietly confident that McCarthy will get us promoted if he stays with us for another two or three years.
    Okay – score prediction?
    A draw, 1-1. Sears to put us ahead before Rhodes does his usual and equalises.
    Both clubs are struggling to defend this season, and it’s likely there will be goals in this one. Although Ipswich have scored more goals than Rovers, current form and their history at Ewood suggests they will do well to walk away with one point, let alone all three.
    I’ll go for an unusually optimistic 2-1 victory for the Rovers, with Rhodes and Conway scoring for Rovers and Murphy scoring his first goal of the season for Ipswich.
    Saturday 26th September 2015 – Football League Championship
    Hull City 1 v 1 Blackburn Rovers - By Parsonblue
    Hull City (0) 1
    Hernandez 73
    Allan McGregor; Moses Odubajo, Michael Dawson, Curtis Davies, Andy Robertson (Jake Livermore 65); Ahmed Elmohamady, Tom Huddlestone, Mo Diame (Shaun Maloney 61), Sam Clucas; Abel Hernandez (David Meyler 89), Chuba Akpom
    Subs not used: Eldin Jakupovic (gk), Harry Maguire, Isaac Hayden, Sone Aluko.
    Manager: Steve Bruce
    Blackburn Rovers (0) 1
    Rhodes 90 + 1
    Jason Steele; Adam Henley, Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson; Ben Marshall (Tommy Spurr 83), Corry Evans, Danny Guthrie (Hope Akpan 8), Craig Conway; Tom Lawrence (Nathan Delfouneso 79); Jordan Rhodes.
    Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Lee Williamson, John O’Sullivan, Darragh Lenihan.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
    Referee: Mr. A. Haines
    Bookings: Hull City – Curtis Davies, Michael Dawson
    Blackburn Rovers – Grant Hanley, Corry Evans
    Attendance: 16,486
    Blackburn Rovers grabbed a late, but thoroughly deserved equaliser to take a share of the points from a hugely entertaining afternoon of football at The KC Stadium.  It was fitting that Jordan Rhodes should mark his 150th appearance for the club with the goal that enabled the team to continue its recent revival.  With Fodé Koita being ruled out by injury, Tom Lawrence began the game playing just behind Rhodes whilst fit again Tommy Spurr had to settle for a place on the bench.
    The Rovers started brightly with Lawrence running at the home defence before being fouled.   However, he kept his feet and the referee played a good advantage to enable him to get into the area but instead of going for goal he attempted to pass the ball to Rhodes and this was cut out and cleared for a corner.
    Hull retaliated with an attack of their own down the right but an attempt at a cross from Moses Odubajo sailed over the bar.
    The Rovers were then struck by an early injury blow to Danny Guthrie who had to be replaced by Hope Akpan after only eight minutes.
    Undeterred the Rovers continued to take the game to Hull with Lawrence proving a real handful when running at the home defence.  Virtually, every time he got the ball he was brought down as the defenders struggled to cope with his direct style.
    A Craig Conway free-kick produced a moment of danger but as two Rovers’ players went for the ball neither could get a clear header and the ball went out for a goal-kick.
    Hull came back with an excellent move which saw Ahmed Elmohamady find Abel Hernandez with an inch perfect cross but the Uruguayan’s header flew narrowly wide.
    Hernandez, who was proving to be a real handful, muscled Grant Hanley off the ball on the edge of the area but the danger was cleared before anything could develop.
    Jason Steele was then on hand to comfortably collect a cross from Andy Robertson.
    Hanley then got himself into trouble when the ball was played to him in the area.  He tried to take it out of the area but slipped as he neared the byline and was robbed by Hernandez who then tried to beat Steele at the near post rather than crossing to those waiting in a more central position.  Fortunately, Steele read the Uruguayan’s intentions and made a good save at his near post.
    Adam Henley and Corry Evans then combined to win a corner which produced a goalmouth scramble before the ball was cleared.
    Lawrence then ran at the Hull defence but when his shot was blocked it came back to Henley who put the ball back into the area for Rhodes to head over.
    The game was proving a very open one with both sides looking to go forward at every opportunity.
    Steele was at full stretch when he dived to palm away a shot from distance from Elmohamady for a corner which resulted in Hernandez attempting a spectacular over-head kick which went wide.
    Shane Duffy then opened up play with a superb cross field pass to Conway who killed the ball in an instant before a last ditch tackled prevented him from cutting inside the penalty area.
    Conway then whipped in a cross to the near post which Allan McGregor collected with relative ease.
    Hernandez, who was giving Hanley a torrid time, got the better of the Rovers’ captain again, before laying the ball off to Sam Clucas who hot wide from distance.  Mo Diame then showed a neat turn but then shot well wide.
    Marshall delivered a good cross into the box which Rhodes met with his head but McGregor made a decent save to deny the Rovers’ striker.
    Despite the 0-0 scoreline, the first-half had been a fairly open and entertaining affair.
    Straight from the re-start, Marshall ran at the home defence and then struck a powerful shot from about 25-yards out which flew narrowly over the bar.
    On 52 minutes Steele had to be alert to save from Tom Huddlestone after the former Tottenham man hit a powerful drive from distance.
    Lawrence had an effort blocked as both sides continued to trade blows in search of the opening goal.  Olsson, who was up against a tricky opponent in Elmohamady made a great recovery tackle after the Egyptian winger threatened to get away from him.  Within minutes he showed the other side of this game when he raced down the wing, cut inside into the area and forced a corner.  His pace at both ends of the pitch was proving to be a major asset to the Rovers.
    Steve Bruce rang the changes with Shaun Maloney and Jake Livermore being introduced in a bid take control in midfield.  As a result the home side started to enjoy more possession and with Lawrence fading, Rhodes became increasingly isolated up front.
    The Rovers came close to scoring when Huddlestone tripped Conway when the winger had moved into a central position.  From Conway’s free-kick, Hanley headed just wide.
    Hull responded immediately and after Clucas had a cross blocked, Maloney fired wide from a good position.
    When the home side finally broke the deadlock, after 73 minutes, it was as a result of yet another controversial refereeing decision.  Rhodes had got in front of Davies and was about to enter the penalty area with the ball at this feet when he went down under a clumsy challenge from behind by the Hull defender.  It looked a clear foul but, to the consternation of the Rovers’ players, the referee waved play on and the home side broke down the right wing before Elmohamady delivered an inch perfect ball, low across the face of the goal, for Hernandez to fire home at close range on the far post.
    The goal rocked the Rovers and Hull, within minutes, had two excellent chances to increase the lead.  Hernandez dragged a good opportunity wide whilst Maloney had a free header in front of goal which he also sent wide.
    Steele then produced an excellent save to keep out a header from Huddlestone at his near post.
    In search of an equaliser, Gary Bowyer introduced Spurr at left-back and pushed Olsson forward to use his pace in the final third of the pitch.
    Gradually, the Rovers started to see more of the ball in and around the Hull penalty area and a cross from Conway eventually fell to Rhodes but as the striker tried to hit a spectacular volley he missed his footing and fell over.
    With the game entering the first of six minutes of added time the Rovers got the goal that they so richly deserved.  Conway delivered a corner to the near post and Rhodes got in front of his marker to head home.
    The Rovers continued to press and Olsson went on a blistering run down the left before coming inside into the area but his cross as blocked.  The corner from Conway then dropped at the feet of Akpan who struck a powerful volley which McGregor blocked without knowing anything about it, such was the ferocity of the shot.
    However, Davies then found himself unmarked in front of the Rovers goal but, incredibly, headed wide from close range.
    Both sides had to settle for the draw from what had been a thoroughly entertaining affair.
    Once again, there were many positives to take from the encounter for the Rovers.  Jason Steele continued his fine run of form between the posts and clearly the challenge of David Raya is bringing the best out of the former England Under-21 international.
    In defence, Shane Duffy had a much improved game whilst Marcus Olsson again demonstrated that his pace is a more than useful weapon in both attack and defence.
    In midfield the partnership of Corry Evans and Hope Akpan worked extremely well with Akpan again impressing with his work rate and ability on the ball.
    Craig Conway had another fine game on the wing creating chances with a succession of dangerous crosses.
    Tom Lawrence caused the home side no end of problems in the first-half as he continually found spaces between the Hull back four and midfield.  Whenever he ran at the home defence they seemed to panic and resorted to bringing him down.  A more capable referee would no doubt have handed out bookings for several cynical challenges.
    Jordan Rhodes, up until his equaliser, had a very quiet game and struggled with the role of lone striker.  However, when the chance came he was again in the right spot at the right time.
    Although still too close to the bottom for comfort, there is no doubt that recent weeks have seen a welcome upturn in form and this was again on show in this game.  The change in style is certainly beginning to pay dividends as the Rovers look to make up lost ground.  There is no doubt that at the moment they certainly aren’t playing like a team that need have anything to fear in terms of a relegation dogfight.
    Monday 28th September 2015 – Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division Two 
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 3 v 0 Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21 - By Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 (1) 3
    Taylor 12, Petshi 59, Forrester 71
    David Raya; Ryan Nyambe, Sam Lavelle, Scott Wharton, Jack Doyle; Connor Mahoney, Sacha Petshi (Mark Edgar 83), Chris Taylor (Connor Thomson 75), Modou Cham; Devarn Green (Hyuga Tanner 75), Anton Forrester.
    Subs not used: Ryan Crump (gk), Lewis Mansell.
    Manager: Damien Johnson
    Brighton & Hove Albion (0) 0
    Joshua Smith; Robert Hunt, Ben White, Tom Dallison, Dylan Barnett; Joe Ward (James Tilley 64), Ben Barclay, Jesse Starkey (Connor Tighe 82), Jeffrey Monakana; Charlie Harris; Daniel Akindayini (Luke Chike Kandi 72).
    Subs not used: Bailey Vose (gk), Tom Cadman.
    Manager: Simon Rusk
    Referee: Mr. S. Oldham
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers Under-21 – None
    Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21 – None
    Attendance: 238
    Ewood Park is certainly proving a happy hunting ground for the Under-21 team as they followed up their victory over West Ham United with a convincing 3-0 win over Brighton.  However, it was the manner of the performance which really caught the eye with not a weak link to be seen in a Rovers team that knocked the ball around with confidence and created chances whilst still remaining tight at the back.
    The Rovers included Chris Taylor in their line-up as he continued his recovery after his long term injury problems whilst David Raya was given a runout between the posts.
    The Rovers made a superb start to the game with Ryan Nyambe showing is paces down the right before whipping in a cross was only cleared as far as Taylor.  The former Millwall man struck a powerful shot which Joshua Smith did well to get down to his left to make a save.
    However, on twelve minutes the Albion ‘keeper was powerless to prevent Taylor from giving the Rovers the lead.  A lovely move on the part of the Rovers ended with Devarn Green pulling the ball back for Taylor to hit a shot from outside of the area which arrowed into the bottom corner of the net.
    Sam Lavelle then had to head clear from a free-kick before a Scott Wharton error gave the visitors an excellent opportunity to equalise.  The young defender mis-judged the flight of the ball which went over him and allowed Daniel Akindavini a clear run on goal.  However, when he fired off his shot, Raya produced an outstanding piece of goalkeeping when he pushed the ball over the bar with one hand.
    Excellent work from Sacha Petshi put Green clear on the right and from his cross the Brighton defence managed to scramble the ball away for a corner.
    Taylor then had another long range effort blocked before Green and Anton Forrester combined to almost open up the Brighton defence.  Forrester then got on the end of a Nyambe cross which Smith saved before Modou Cham fired over from outside of the area.
    The visitors came back with a dangerous cross from the right which Raya had to be alert to come out and throw himself full length to grab the ball before it reached the feet of Akindayini.
    Petshi, who was having an outstanding game in midfield, found Green who, in turn, played the ball out to Connor Mahoney.  Mahoney’s cross was blocked for a corner from which Forrester sent in a header that Smith caught under his crossbar.
    Brighton then had a very good opportunity just before the interval when a cross from the right was whipped over to Charlie Harris who met it first time but could only direct the ball straight at Raya who stopped it on the line.
    The Rovers started the second period brightly when Forrester played the ball into Cham in the area and he crossed the ball to the far post but, sadly, the centre was just too high for Green to reach.
    Mahoney then robbed a defender and outran the defence before cutting inside to fire off a shot which Smith saved at his near post.  Mahoney then put in a centre which Forrester reached but headed just wide.
    On 59 minutes the Rovers got the second goal which their play deserved and it was a goal with epitomised the effort which the team put into closing down the opposition.  Under pressure from Petshi, Smith rushed his clearance and only succeeded in kicking the ball straight to Green on the right of the Brighton goal.  He took it back into the area before squaring the ball across goal for Petshi to sweep home from close range.
    The Rovers almost added a third when Mahoney took a free-kick from a central position and lofted the ball into the area and Lavelle rose to head narrowly over.
    Mahoney, who seemed to come alive after the interval, then embarked on another run down the right before sending in an inch perfect cross which Forrester threw himself at and scored with a superb diving header in 71 minutes.
    Brighton looked a thoroughly dispirited outfit by this point having been blown away by some wonderful, free-flowing football.  The Rovers created more chances with Forrester just off target with one effort while Connor Thomson’s pass to Cham just skidded away from him off the surface as the young winger looked to be through on goal.  Forrester then met another Mahoney cross but his header deflected off a defender for another corner.
    This was a hugely impressive performance with a number of excellent performances but above all it was a real team effort and augurs well for the future.  There is no doubt that the emphasis which Gary Bowyer and Eric Kinder have put on developing the younger end of the club is finally beginning to show results in terms of improved performances.  The next step, of course, will be to oversee the development of at least one or two of these players into genuine first team prospects.  On the evidence of this display there is certainly the potential to be developed.
    Saturday 19th September 2015 – Football League Championship 
    Blackburn Rovers 3 v 0 Charlton Athletic by Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers (1) 3
    Rhodes 45 + 1, Rhodes 75, Lawrence 85
    Jason Steele; Adam Henley, Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson; Ben Marshall, Corry Evans (Lee Williamson 89), Danny Guthrie (Hope Akpan 78), Craig Conway; Jordan Rhodes, Fodé Koita (Tom Lawrence 75).
    Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Matt Kilgallon, Nathan Delfouneso, John O’Sullivan.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
    Charlton Athletic (0) 0
    Nick Pope; Chris Solly, Alou Diarra, Patrick Bauer, Morgan Fox; Mikhail Kennedy (Igor Vetokeke 61), Jordan Cousins, Ahmed Kashi, Zakarya Bergdich (Conor McAleny 69); Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Tony Watt (Karlan Ahearne-Grant 89).
    Subs not used: Dimitar Mitov (gk), Johnnie Jackson, Naby Sarr, El-Hadji Ba.
    Manager: Guy Luzon
    Referee: Mr. C. Boyeson
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers – Grant Hanley
    Charlton Athletic – None
    Attendance: 12,088
    Blackburn Rovers finally notched their first win of the season when they dispatched a rather lacklustre Charlton Athletic in convincing fashion at Ewood Park.  The Rovers carried on from where they left off on Wednesday night with a confident display of attacking football which had the visitors at full stretch.  It has taken awhile for the new players to be assimilated into the team but there now seems to be an increased understanding and definite pattern of play being developed.  Over the past few games there has been a marked departure from the long ball game to one which sees the ball being played through midfield with Danny Guthrie and Corry Evans being at the hub of things, ably supported by Craig Conway and Ben Marshall on the flanks.  The inclusion of Fodé Koita has taken some of the weight off Jordan Rhodes, who has never really convinced as a lone striker, and enabled him to find the sort of goalscoring positions from which he can do what he does best.  In terms of a Championship season it is still early days and, of course, one win proves nothing, but the signs have been there in previous games to finally give rise to some cautious optimism.
    The early stages proved to be a cagy affair although Zakarya Bergdich got the better of Adam Henley on eight minutes but his cross came to nothing.  A minute later, a lofted pass from Jordan Cousins enabled Tony Watt to beat the offside trap and find himself one-on-one with Jason Steele on the edge of the area.  As the Rovers ‘keeper came out to meet Watt, the Charlton striker chipped him but his effort was weak and off target and easily cleared.  However, it was a warning to the Rovers that the visitors could be a danger on the break.
    Within a minute the Rovers had a wonderful chance to take the lead when Ben Marshall played an inch perfect through ball which found Jordan Rhodes totally free in the penalty area.  The striker spun and whipped a in a shot which Pope did well to save one-handed and push away for a corner.
    A wonderful flowing move down the left involving Marshall, Craig Conway and Marcus Olsson ended with the Swedish full-back sending in a dangerous cross which was headed clear by a Charlton defender.  A cross from Henley was cleared only as far as Rhodes and he, in turn, sent in another cross which was cleared for a corner.
    At this juncture the Rovers were slowly increasing the pressure on the visiting defence with some attractive and patient football which saw them working the ball around the pitch to unsettle the Charlton back line.
    A shocking backpass by Alou Diarra sold his ‘keeper short and Rhodes intercepted the ball well clear of any defenders.  He rounded the ‘keeper but then Pope recovered quickly to slide in and block Rhodes effort for a corner.
    Marshall almost played Fodé Koita in with another excellent spot but, sadly, the pass was just over hit.
    On nineteen minutes the visitors had their first real chance of the game when Bergdich played a quick one-two with Johann Berg Gudmundsson on the edge of the area but his low shot was beaten away by Steele.
    Koita was the next to have a shot at goal when a corner fell to him in a crowded penalty area.  The Frenchman showed good technique to turn and hit the ball in one movement but, unfortunately, he couldn’t get sufficient power behind his shot which was comfortably saved by Pope.
    On twenty-seven minutes Watt was adjudged to be onside – a very debatable decision – and as moved into the area he fired his shot across the face of the goal and wide of the target.
    At the other end a cross from Henley was met by Marshall and Pope did well to scoop the shot away with one hand.
    Watt then had a chance to give the visitors the lead when Shane Duffy completely misjudged the path of the ball and Jordan Cousins was able to race into the area before picking out Watt in the centre of the goal.  The striker seemed to tie himself up in knots and eventually hit a tame shot straight into the arms of Steele.
    Just past the half-hour mark, Koita was tripped as he latched onto the ball and Marshall struck the free-kick narrowly over the bar.  Pope then found himself under pressure again when he was forced to punch a headed backpass away for a corner when under pressure from Rhodes.
    On forty-two minutes Pope did well to collect a cross from Marshall when being challenged by Koita.
    However, as the game moved into the first minute of added on time the Rovers got the breakthrough that they so thoroughly deserved.  Grant Hanley met a corner from the right and his glancing header seemed destined for the net when Rhodes popped up, completely unmarked and virtually on the goalline, and got the faintest of touches to it with his head to make sure.
    The Rovers began the second half brightly and, once again, had Charlton on the back foot as they knocked the ball around with a growing confidence.
    However, on fifty-four minutes, Rhodes lost possession in midfield and Cousins gave the ball to Watt and he, in turn, found Bergdich.  The Moroccan international, although at full stretch, got his shot past Steele only for Hanley to clear the ball for a corner.  This led to a succession of corners for the visitors which the Rovers dealt with.
    On fifty-eight minutes Hanley found Rhodes, who beat the offside trap, and he slipped the ball back to Conway who cut inside from the left but blasted his shot high and wide of the target.
    Three minutes later Conway sent in a wonderful cross which appeared to be destined for the head of Rhodes in front of goal.  Sadly, the striker was just unable to get a touch on the ball which flew narrowly wide of the far post.
    The Rovers continued to pour forward in search of a second goal and an intricate move involving Guthrie, Koita and Olsson ended with the latter firing in a cross which was cut out just before it reached Rhodes.
    Charlton’s attacks were becoming more and more infrequent and when Watt did get a sight of goal he shot well wide.
    Olsson, who was having a fine game at left-back, then picked out Koita with another inch-perfect cross but the French striker opted to head the ball back to Corry Evans rather than going for goal and the chance was lost.
    Duffy then did well to clear the ball for a corner when Watt tried to get between the defender and the advancing Steele.
    On seventy-five minutes the Rovers grabbed the second goal that their play had deserved.  Tom Lawrence, who had only been on the pitch a few moments, worked his way to the deadball line before finding Rhodes on the near post and the striker, from the narrowest of angles, prodded the ball past Pope from close range.
    The visitors hit back when Watt created a chance for Igor Vetokele but Henley was on hand to make a vital block.  From the resulting corner it was the Rovers who had a wonderful opportunity to finish off the opposition when they broke and suddenly found themselves with four players in ‘Blue & White’ shirts running at a solitary Charlton defender.  The ball was eventually played into Marshall whose shot was saved and when the ball came out to Olsson his effort was blocked for a corner.
    Fortunately, moments later the win was sealed by a fine goal from Tom Lawrence.  The Rovers worked the ball down the right wing with Henley and Hope Akpan exchanging passes before Akpan played in Lawrence who skipped past a defender before, from about twelve yards out, blasting the ball into the roof of the net.
    There was much to admire about the Rovers play in this game and was further evidence of a marked difference in the style of play that the manager and his coaching staff appear to be adopting.  There seems greater emphasis on working the ball through midfield and on retaining possession to try to pull the opposition out of position.  In Ben Marshall, Danny Guthrie, Corry Evans and Craig Conway, the Rovers have a midfield quartet who seemed happily suited to this style of play and Hope Akpan has also shown, in his substitute appearances, that he too is comfortable on the ball as well as providing a bit of  old fashioned ‘muscle’ to the midfield.
    In defence, the Rovers had one or two uncomfortable moments, in the first half in particular, but these were weathered and in the main the pairing of Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley looked relatively comfortable as the game went on.  Adam Henley had a difficult afternoon at times and in the first half looked quite vulnerable to the pace of Charlton down the wing.  However, he got to grips with things after the break.  Marcus Olsson had a fine game at left-back and offers so much more than Tommy Spurr, both in defence and in overlapping down the left wing.
    The midfield quartet looked very impressive at times.  Conway and Marshall were a constant threat down the wings whilst Evans and Guthrie worked non-stop in the centre of the park.  Both were always available, always wanting the ball and keeping the play moving at pace.  Both challenged and pressed the opposition whenever they had the ball.  Akpan also caught the eye with a brief cameo at the end.  He looks comfortable on the ball, has a bit of pace and is not frightened of making a tackle.  With the recently capped Lee Williamson also making a brief reappearance the Rovers now seem well served in this area of the park.
    In attack Jordan Rhodes looked back to his best in terms of getting into goalscoring positions.  He took both goals with his usual predatory instincts and worked hard throughout.  The change in style, which has seen the Rovers playing the ball through midfield rather than pumping long balls forward, has allowed Rhodes to take up the sort of positions in the penalty area from which he can profit.  It has been noticeable that the last three games have provided Rhodes with numerous opportunities to score as the new system plays to his strengths.  Although Fodé Koita has yet to open his account, he did enough to suggest that he will be a decent partner for Rhodes.  His physical approach is different from Rhodes and as a result, the latter seems to be finding more space and greater opportunities to score.
    Tom Lawrence, nominally a winger, proved something of a revelation playing alongside Rhodes after Koita went off.  Lawrence has pace, is quick to spot a pass and showed great composure when scoring his maiden goal for the club.  He looks like being another excellent acquisition by Gary Bowyer, albeit one that is only on loan.
    The three points have lifted the Rovers out of the relegation places and should provide a huge boost for the players ahead of their tough trip to Hull next week.
    Wednesday 16th September 2015 – Football League Championship
    Queens Park Rangers 2 v 2 Blackburn Rovers - by Parsonblue
    Queens Park Rangers (0) 2
    Henley (own goal) 46, Onuoha 79
    Alex Smithies; James Perch, Nedum Onuoha, Gabriele Angella, Paul Konchesky; Karl Henry, Daniek Tozser; Matt Phillips, Massimo Luongo, Tjaronn Chery (Jamie Mackie 68); Charlie Austin.
    Subs not used: Joe Lumley (gk), Grant Hall, Clint Hill, Ben Gladwin, Michael Doughty, Alejandro Faurlin.
    Head Coach: Chris Ramsey
    Blackburn Rovers (1) 2
    Duffy 14, Rhodes 60
    Jason Steele; Adam Henley, Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Tommy Spurr (Marcus Olsson 8); Ben Marshall (Tom Lawrence 89), Danny Guthrie, Corry Evans, Craig Conway; Fodé Koita (Nathan Delfouneso 82), Jordan Rhodes.
    Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Matt Kilgallon, John O’Sullivan, Hope Akpan.
    Manager: Gary Bowyer
    Referee: Mr. D. Deadman
    Bookings: Queens Park Rangers – Alex Smithies, Charlie Austin
    Blackburn Rovers – Adam Henley, Danny Guthrie
    Attendance: 14,007
    The search for the first three points of the season goes on but there can be no doubt that this encounter, against one of the club’s tipped for promotion, produced some real signs of encouragement for Ewood’s travelling fans.  As at Craven Cottage on Sunday, the Rovers produced any number of chances to have won the game with ease but, sadly, were simply not ruthless enough in front of goal.  Nonetheless, this was a performance which offered hope for the future and certainly shot down rumours of the manager having lost the dressing room.  The players certainly put in a shift for the man that many would have us believe had lost the players some time ago.
    After the terrific second-half performance against Fulham, the manager kept the side which began that half at Craven Cottage but within the opening minutes a change was required when Tommy Spurr was laid out after a corner in the opening exchange of the game.  Spurr, who had taken a knee to the face, received lengthy treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off to be replaced by Marcus Olsson.
    The Rovers took the lead after fourteen minutes.  After Craig Conway had been brought down, he took the free-kick and lofted the ball to the back post.  Shane Duffy and Alex Smithies went for the ball and the ‘keeper appeared to drop the ball at the feet of Duffy who merely prodded it over the line.  Smithies, making his debut for Rangers, complained bitterly to the linesman to the extent that to compound his misery the referee promptly booked him.
    The Rovers continued to press Rangers back and both Conway and Rhodes had shots blocked as the home defence looked increasingly uncomfortable.  A shot from Ben Marshall was deflected into the path of Fodé Koita but his effort was blocked for a corner.
    At this juncture it was all Rovers as the home side looked increasingly rattled and unable to get Charlie Austin into the game.
    On twenty minutes, Koita headed the ball on into the path of Rhodes who took it on but his shot was deflected wide for yet another corner.
    The home side put a telling move together a couple of minutes later but when the ball came to Karl Henry he fired over the bar from the edge of the area.
    Marshall, who was finding plenty of time and space, picked out Rhodes with an inch perfect pass but the striker hesitated momentarily and a last ditch tackle got the ball away for a corner.
    The home side were then awarded a free kick within shooting range after Rhodes had brought down Gabriele Angella.  Tjaronn Chery lined it up for a shot but blasted it high over the bar – a truly shocking effort.
    The Rovers then strung a lovely move together with passes being interchanged across the pitch before a cross found the head of Koita whose effort when straight to Smithies, although a linesman’s flag would have ruled out any goal.
    Austin was then booked after a bust up with the fourth official – much to the delight of the travelling fans from Ewood.
    A long free kick from Jason Steele went straight to Rhodes in front of goal but the striker was unable to control the ball and it bounced off him into the hands of Smithies.
    On the half hour mark a corner to Rangers was comfortably held by Steele who came and caught the ball in imperious fashion.
    The Rovers were playing with plenty of confidence at this point but when Adam Henley was caught in possession Massimo Luongo made a dangerous run into the Rovers penalty area before pulling the ball back to Austin.   Fortunately, the former Burnley man, struck his shot well wide.
    More excellent approach play from Danny Guthrie and Marshall ended with Conway putting a dangerous ball into the box which was cleared by an overworked defence.
    Conway then whipped another ball across the face of the goal but Rhodes missed the ball completely before it was eventually cleared for another corner.
    As the half moved into the seven minutes of added time the home side had their best chance of the half.  Austin cut into the area on the dead ball line, left Grant Hanley on his backside and then lofted an inch perfect cross onto the head of Chery who promptly headed over from close range.
    Koita then got away down the right and whipped in a superb cross which went across the face of the goal with both Rhodes and Marshall failing to take advantage.
    Marshall then found Olsson who sent in the perfect cross which landed at the feet of Rhodes and he fired in a close range shot which Smithies managed to block with his body.  It was yet another chance which really ought to have been converted for after dominating the first half the Rovers left the field with only a narrow one goal advantage.
    Within a minute of the restart the Rovers paid the price for their profligacy of the first half.  A ball played into the Rovers area came back of Shane Duffy into the path of Austin.  Steele managed to save his first attempt but the ball came back to Austin and from the narrowest of angles he whipped it back across the goal where it hit the unfortunate Henley on the foot and bounced in the net.
    The goal clearly motivated the home side and the crowd and for a time the Rovers were on the back foot as Rangers poured forward at every opportunity.  However, Hanley and Duffy defended stoutly at the heart of the Rovers defence and eventually the Rovers were able to push the home side back.  A cross from Conway caused panic in the home defence but, unfortunately, the ball wouldn’t come down quickly enough for Rhodes to be able to capitalise.
    The home side tried to break quickly but Guthrie’s professional foul stopped them in their tracks although it did earn the former Reading man a booking.  From the free kick James Perch shot high over the bar.
    The Rovers survived a penalty appeal when the home side appealed for hands against Henley after Henry had blasted the ball goal wards and the ball seemed to hit Henley who really couldn’t get out of the way as such short distance.  Fortunately, the referee waved away the appeals.
    On the hour mark the Rovers regained the lead with a wonderful goal.  Steele’s long kick was headed on by Koita into the path of Rhodes.  The Scottish international striker lifted the ball over Nedum Onuoha and then held off the defender before tucking the ball past Smithies into the net.  It was a splendid piece of work by the Rhodes.
    Steele was at full stretch to tip away a cross from Luongo for a throw in and when this was launched into the area, Duffy was on hand to head away.
    Another flowing move by the Rovers saw the ball come out to Henley and his cross found Koita whose shot was blocked for a corner.  From the corner Smithies did well to collect the ball under heavy pressure.
    Both sides were going forward and both sides were creating chances with the home side having a great chance on seventy-three minutes when Matt Phillips got down the wing and found Luongo with a perfect pass in front of goal.  Inexplicably, with the whole goal to aim at, he opted to pass the ball to Jamie Mackie and Henley stepped in the clear for a corner.
    However, on seventy-nine minutes the home side drew level from a corner.  As the ball came across to the far post Onuoha rose to meet the ball whilst Koita was rooted to the spot and the former Manchester City man sent a powerful header past Steele.
    Steele then had to make a number of decent saves at the home side looked for a winner.  However, undaunted, the Rovers finished strongly with Deflouneso and Olsson sending in crosses which caused panic in the home defence.  The, as time was almost up Corry Evans, who had enjoyed an outstanding game in the centre of midfield, found Delfouneso on the edge of the box.  The former Aston Villa man produced some nibble footwork to turn the defender and the getaway a first time shot which flew narrowly over the bar.
    A succession of Conway corners came to nothing as the Rovers had to settle for a point from a highly entertaining game.
    Jason Steele had another good game in goal and has fully justified his recall.
    Adam Henley had a number of difficult moments against the lively Matt Phillips but, in fairness, was all too often left in a one-on-one situation with the winger.
    Marcus Olsson proved just what the Rovers had been missing with his pace down the wing and his crosses causing problems for the home side.  Defensively he was very sound.
    The pairing of Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley worked extremely well in this game.  Both defended well and Duffy, of course, grabbed the first goal.  This was the best performance of the two in combination this season.
    Corry Evans and Danny Guthrie worked incredibly hard in the centre of midfield and formed an excellent partnership.  This was as well has Evans has played in a long while.  Full of running, he closed down the opposition and looked to instigate attacking moves at every opportunity.  Guthrie used the ball with intelligence and kept the play moving.  He looked much fitter than before the international break.
    Ben Marshall and Craig Conway caused Rangers problems all night with their intelligent use of the ball from the wide positions.
    Fodé Koita again showed his potential with a strong running performance and a physical approach which troubled the home defence.  He tired towards the end and, with hindsight, perhaps should have been replaced earlier than he was.
    Jordan Rhodes could easily have had a hat-trick.  He missed a number of excellent opportunities but scored an absolute cracker of a goal.  Despite missing chances he continually got into goalscoring positions and his colleagues were finding him with the ball which augers well for the future.
    Whilst it was disappointing not to pick up three points it was a very encouraging performance and for the second time in a matter of days there were signs that the manager and his coaching staff are gradually integrating the new players into the an efficient unit.  The need now, of course, is to turn that potential into points – hopefully starting with a win on Saturday against Charlton Athletic.

    By vdb, in News,

    Rovers wait for their first win of the season continues as they were pegged back twice against QPR last night.
    Manager Gary Bowyer felt that his team were the better side  “We were outstanding in the first half and the game should have been dead and buried with the amount of chances that we created. The football we played was terrific.
    “But the timing of their first goal was ridiculous. We gifted them it, it was poor all the way around.
    “The response from us was terrific, we got our noses back in front, and we should have stayed in front as we had the chances to capitalise again.  But their second goal, you have to have accountability and a responsibility for marking your man at set-plays – and it’s as simple as that".
    Rovers take on Charlton on Saturday at Ewood with the game kicking off at 3.00pm.
    Saturday 12th September 2015 – The Premier Academy Under-18 League
    Blackburn Rovers Under-18 1 v 1 Manchester United Under-18 - By Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers Under-18 (1) 1
    Grayson 39
    Andrew Fisher; Lewis Travis, Matthew Platt, Charley Doyle, Josh Askew; Lewis Hardcastle; Mason Fawns, Stefan Mols, Joseph Grayson (Joseph Rankin-Costello 69), Ramirez Howarth.
    Subs not used: Joe Boyling (gk), Joel Steer, Stuart Callaway, Alex Curran.
    Coach: Billy Barr
    Manchester United Under-18 (0) 1
    Rashford (penalty) 63
    George Donnington; Warren Tyrell, Ro-Shaun Williams, Jimmy Dunne, Tyler Reid; Charlie Scott (Callum Whelan 62); Kayne Diedricke-Roberts (Jake Kenyon 62), Callum Gribbin, Tosin Kehinde, Angel Gomes; Marcus Rashford.
    Subs not used: Matty Campbell (gk), Lewis Thompson, Harry Spratt.
    Coach: Paul McGuinness
    Referee: Mr. M. Hooper
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers Under-18 – Lewis Travis
    Manchester United Under-18 – Tosin Kehinde, Tyrell Warren
    The Under-18’s impressive start to the season continued with this hard won point in a highly competitive game at Brockhall.
    The Rovers started brightly and dominated the opening fifteen minutes with Lewis Hardcastle spreading the ball around from a deeper position in midfield.
    An excellent flowing move enabled Joe Grayson to fire a shot wide and then Lewis Mansell hit a drive straight at George Dorrington in the United goal.  Mansell then rose to head the ball towards goal but Dorrington held the ball just under the crossbar.
    The Rovers were playing some fast, flowing football that had the United defence at full stretch.
    United finally made a serious threat when Marcus Rashford went on a good run on the right but was stopped with a tackle as he got into the area.  From the resultant corner, Andrew Fisher came out and caught the ball in confident fashion.
    Just past the fifteen minute mark the impressive Grayson fired another long range effort over the bar as the Rovers continued to put pressure on the visitors.
    United threatened on the counter-attack and Fisher had to be alert when a speculative through pass looked to have opened up the defence but the ‘keeper was quick off his line to collect the ball.
    Mansell then went down in the area under a challenge from Angel Gomes and despite appeals for a penalty, Mr. Hooper remained unmoved and allowed play to carry on.
    United responded with a decent move of their own down the left wing but when the ball came to Tyler Reid, the full-backs cross was woeful and went out for a goal-kick.
    Another flowing move which saw several players swapping passes at speed ended with Grayson hitting another powerful long range effort over the bar.
    The Rovers almost broke the deadlock when Josh Askew whipped in a ball to the far post where Mansell and a defender went up to meet the cross and the ball flew back across the area for Stefan Mols to head the ball against the crossbar.
    On the half-hour mark Fisher was called into action when he had to push a free-kick from Callum Gribbin over his crossbar.  Fisher then had to make a save at the foot of the post when Ro-Shaun Williams fed Gribbin and the United man moved into the area before hitting a fierce shot which Fisher did well to hold.
    Grayson then played a peach of a pass through the United defence which set Mansell free but as he cut into the area his cross was blocked for a corner.
    The Rovers finally broke the deadlock on thirty-nine minutes when Reid miscued a pass and put the ball straight to Grayson who took it into the area before picking his spot and almost passing the ball into the net past a stranded Dorrington.  It was no more than the Rovers deserved as they had been by far the better side up to that point.
    The Rovers might well have increased their lead moments later when Ramierz Howarth cut in from the left and curled an effort just inches wide of the far post.
    Early in the second half, Grayson’s free kick was pushed against the post by Dorrington and then Mansell broke free of the defence but fired wide as the Rovers continued to press in search of a second goal.
    Eventually, United started to enjoy more possession and Tyrell Warren got forward from right-back and popped up in the area but dragged the ball wide when in a good shooting position.
    The Rovers did get the ball into the net when Mason Fawns headed home but the celebrations were cut short by a linesman who had signalled that Fawns was in an offside position.
    The game had become an end to end affair with some fairly robust challenges going in which led to more than one confrontation between the players.
    After, sixty-three minutes United drew level from the penalty spot.  Gomes was brought down in the area by Charley Doyle and the referee, rightly, awarded a penalty.  Rashford, who had been a constant threat, stepped up and beat Fisher from the spot despite the ‘keeper diving the right way and almost getting a hand to the ball.
    Grayson then sent in a header which Dorrington managed to get a hand to the ball and keep it out.  Mols then got into the area but his shot went straight to Dorrington whilst both Gomes and Jake Kenyon had shots which Fisher held.
    Both sides gave everything in tricky conditions with driving rain at times making it far from easy for both sets of players.  In the end a draw was a fair result although one suspects that the Rovers will be disappointed that they didn’t make the most of the numerous chances they created in the first half.
    There were a number of excellent performances from the youngsters.  Andrew Fisher was a safe pair of hands in goal whilst Matthew Platt was outstanding at the heart of the defence.  Lewis Hardcastle, Joe Grayson and Stefan Mols all played well in midfield both in creating chances and in defending when required.  Lewis Mansell was a willing runner up front and caused the United defence a number of problems with his robust style of play.
    Monday 14th September 2015 – Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division Two
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 4 v 3 West Ham United Under-21 - By Parsonblue
    Blackburn Rovers Under-21 (1) 4
    Green 20, Forrester 55, Mahoney 79, Mahoney 83
    Simon Eastwood; Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Scott Wharton, Jack Doyle; Connor Mahoney, Sacha Petshi (Willem Tomlinson 72), David Carson, Modou Cham; Anton Forrester, Devarn Green.
    Subs not used: Ryan Crump (gk), Sam Lavelle, Connor Thomson, Dean Rittenberg.
    Manager: Damien Johnson
    West Ham United (2) 3
    Knoyle 10, Samuelson 32, Cullen 64
    Tim Brown; Kyle Knoyle, Doneil Henry (Josh Pask 46), Emmanuel Onariase, Stephen Hendrie; Djair Parfitt-Williams, George Dobson, Josh Cullen, Martin Samuelsen; Marcus Brown (Amos Nasha 71); Elliott Lee.
    Subs not used: Danny Boness (gk), Jordan Brown, Grady Diangana.
    Manager: Terry Westley
    Referee: Mr. J. Hunt
    Bookings: Blackburn Rovers Under-21 – Devarn Green
    West Ham United Under-21 – None
    Attendance: 220
    The Rovers first under-21 League match of the season at Ewood Park turned out to be a real cracker with the Rovers youngsters edging a seven goal thriller.   The Rovers made several changes from the starting eleven which beat Barrow last week in the Lancashire Senior Cup.  Simon Eastwood, Darragh Lenihan Modou Cham, Anton Forrester and Devarn Green were all drafted into the team as Damien Johnson and John Filan rotated the players available to them.  The West Ham team included Doneil Henry, who had such a successful loan spell at Ewood last season and who was returning from injury.
    The visitors were the first to threaten when Elliott Lee, the son of England international Rob Lee, broke through with some nimble footwork and forced Eastwood to make a good save at his near post.
    However, after ten minutes Eastwood was beaten by a tremendous effort from Kyle Knoyle.  Lee played the ball out to Knoyle on the right and, after having got past Cham, the full-back hit a thunderbolt of a shot from distance which flew past Eastwood into the net.
    Ten minutes later and the Rovers were level after Forrester headed the ball on into the path of Green who raced past Henry into the area and then beat Tim Brown with a shot which went in off the post.
    It was proving to be a hugely entertaining game with the visitors playing some very neat football but often being let down by a poor final ball into the area.  Just before the half-hour mark Marcus Browne hit a long range shot which flew past Eastwood’s post.  However, moments later West Ham took the lead.  Martin Samuelson, the Norwegian youngster signed from Manchester City in the Summer and incorrectly listed as seven on the teamsheet, struck an effort from outside of the area which took a deflection and found the top right hand corner of the net.
    In truth, West Ham deserved their lead at the interval for they had produced the better attacking football up to that point.
    Henry, who was having his first outing after a recent injury, didn’t reappear after the break and was replaced by Josh Pask.  West Ham began the second half as they had ended the first – on the attack.  Browne broke down the right flnak before he pulled the ball back from the byline to Lee.  The West Ham striker showed a distinct lack of composure and blasted his shot high over the bar from about twelve yards out.
    The Rovers gradually started to get back in the game and Lenihan was unfortunate to see a powerful header saved by Brown following a corner from Connor Mahoney.  Sacha Petshi, who had been very quiet in the first half, started to get forward more and showed excellent ball control before he cut in from the left and curled a decent effort just wide.
    On fifty-five minutes the Rovers drew level with a wonderful goal from Forrester.  A Cham free-kick was headed away for a corner which the Rovers winger took.  Forrester got his head to the ball but his effort was blocked and came back to him.  He showed a fantastic touch to control the ball and then hit a powerful shot on the turn which flew into the bottom left hand corner of the net from the edge of the box.  It was a wonderful piece of opportunism from the young striker.
    Another excellent run from Cham presented Forrester with another chance but this time his well struck shot was deflected wide for a corner.  Mahoney’s corner was met by the head of Lenihan but his effort was well wide of the goal.
    On the hour mark, Cham sent a free-kick over the wall and forced Brown to dive full length and catch the ball, a really outstanding piece of goalkeeping.
    On sixty-four minutes it was the Hammers who took the lead when Josh Cullen curled a wonderful free-kick around the Rovers’ wall and into the top left-hand corner of the net.
    The Rovers responded immediately with another excellent run by Cham into the area and when he got to the byline he pulled the ball back to Forrester but the former Everton youngster hit his shot over the bar.  Lenihan then headed another Mahoney corner over the bar as the Rovers increased the pressure on the visiting defence.
    On seventy-two minutes the Rovers replaced Petshi with Willem Tomlinson and seven minutes later the youngster earned the Rovers a free-kick some 25 yards from goal.  Mahoney stepped up to take the kick and bent the ball around the wall and into the bottom corner of the net with Brown unable to get down quickly enough to save it.
    Having pulled level, the Rovers went all out for a winner as West Ham visibly tired and wilted under the sustained pressure.  It was Mahoney who had suddenly sprung into life and was causing West Ham untold problems on the right wing whilst Cham was doing the same on the left.  Scott Wharton fed Mahoney and the winger fired in a shot from distance which just flew inches past the far post.
    However, on eighty-three minutes the Rovers took the lead with Mahoney replicating virtually the exact goal that he scored at Barrow last week.  After beating a defender in the area, he skipped along the byline before he rifled in an effort from the narrowest of angles into the top right hand corner of the net.  It was a fantastic end to what had been a splendid game of football.
    Several performances from the Rovers youngsters caught the eye.  Connor Mahoney and Modou Cham proved to be a lively pair of wingers in the second half who caused West Ham no end of problems with their direct running and willingness to get into the opposing penalty area.
    Darragh Lenihan and Scott Wharton defended well in and around the penalty area and Lenihan was always a threat at corners.
    Anton Forrester and Devarn Green proved a hardworking combination up front who linked up well together throughout the game.
    In midfield, David Carson was his usual tenacious self although wasn’t at his best by any stretch of the imagination.  Sasha Petshi grew into the game and got better as it went on.  He is still raw there are flashes that there is a talent within his sizable frame.