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Match Reports

REPORT | BLACKBURN PROVE TOO MUCH FOR BATTLING BANTAMS

29 March 2018

Despite a battling effort from Simon Grayson's Bantams, Blackburn Rovers' title-chasing quality eventually shone through to ensure City's first visit to Ewood Park in over twenty-eight years ended in defeat.

Grayson's men had showed great resolve to hold off Blackburn until the interval, but second half strikes from Bradley Dack and substitute Craig Conway proved enough to secure a 2-0 win for the one-time Premier League champions.

The victory for Blackburn moved the hosts back to the top of the Sky Bet League One table, strengthening their automatic promotion chances, while City will now look to their home match with Walsall on Easter Monday to rekindle their push for a play-off place.

Free from suspension after a three-game ban, Charlie Wyke partnered last Saturday's match-winner Dominic Poleon up top in the only change made by Grayson from the starting XI that began against Gillingham last time out.

Roared on by an away support of nearly 1,700, City tried to make a positive start to the contest but in-form Blackburn were clearly keen to make up for lost time.

Rovers, who had won five of their last six games going into Thursday's encounter, hadn't actually played in nineteen days previously due to a postponed game and recent international call-ups.

Matthew Kilgallon was required to make an important block after the ball had dropped invitingly into the path of Elliott Bennett in just the second minute.

Corry Evans went closer for Rovers fifteen minutes in when he won possession deep inside City's area but Colin Doyle made a bright save from the midfielder's angled shot.

Rovers kept pushing at this stage, and Marcus Antonsson perhaps should have scored minutes later when he planted a header wide of the far post from Richie Smallwood's free-kick delivery into the box.

City were having to dig deep as the opening half reached its halfway point.

From one Blackburn corner, Nathaniel Knight-Percival was required head away from off his own line before Antonsson and Dack then saw shots deflect off the woodwork in quick succession.

Having started with a back three in a 3-5-2 formation, City moved to a 4-3-3 shape as the first period progressed.

Rovers continued on the front-foot up until the interval, but the changes for City did seem to help their efforts to repel the hosts.

Adam Armstrong fired wide from outside the box and Dominic Samuel struck straight at Doyle with a later effort, but City held strong going into the break.

Rovers kept probing for an opening after the restart but wayward efforts from Samuel and Antonsson was the closest they came in the first fifteen minutes of the half.

Just past the hour mark a low cross from Armstrong bounced out into the path of Evans inside the box but the midfielder's goal-bound shot was repelled by the frame of Knight-Percival.

Shortly afterwards, City brought on Omari Patrick and Shay McCartan for Dominic Poleon and Alex Gilliead in attempt to injection more potentancy into their attacking play.

The pair had only been on the pitch a few minutes, however, when Rovers finally broke through the City defences.

Dack was played into space behind City's back-line and the talented Rovers attacker showed commendable composure to ram the ball home past Doyle.

The goal was understandably a huge blow to the Bantams, who perhaps had just started to get to the stage where they believed a hard-fought point could be possible.

With Timothee Dieng now on the pitch as replacing fellow midfielder Callum Guy, Rovers then made sure of the points nine minutes from the end of normal time.

From a swift attack forward, Armstrong's shot for goal was blocked by the leg of Kilgallon but an unmarked Conway was on hand to crash in past Doyle by his near post.

Despite the scoreline and the clock being against them, City - to their credit - kept looking for a way to get themselves on the scoresheet.

Patrick fired wide while in space just outside the box, with the sub then going even closer a few minutes later when headed over from a decent position after connecting with a Dieng cross.

It wasn't to be City's game, though, and Grayson's men must now turn their attentions to Easter Monday's home match with Walsall.


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