Bristol Rovers vs Blackburn Rovers on 14 Apr 18 - Match CentreChris Lines secured Rovers a point against Blackburn in dramatic fashion, volleying home superbly deep into stoppage time to cancel out Charlie Mulgrew's penalty. In selecting his side of the encounter, Manager Darrell Clarke elected to include two changes to the side that battled to a win a point last weekend at home to Charlton.
The striker connected well with his strike, but his attempt was smothered by Raya, who made himself big to produce the save from close-range. As the hour mark passed, the visitors were awarded a penalty as Tom Broadbent was judged to have fouled Richie Smallwood inside the area, after the defender lunged into a challenge. Charlie Mulgrew stepped up to take the spot-kick and dispatched a side-footed finish to the left of the diving Slocombe to open the scoring. In the moments after the goal, Blackburn had the opportunity to extend their slender lead, as a curling cross to far-post was somehow headed wide by Derrick Williams from close-range, after the angle of the delivery had meant the ball wasn't dealt with by the Rovers defence.
Leading up to the break, Bradley Dack managed to navigate his way to latch onto a bouncing ball inside the Rovers area. The attacking midfielder looked certain to stab the ball home and after advancing in behind the Rovers defence, but a perfectly executed sliding challenge from Tom Lockyer took the ball away from Dack just as he was poised to shoot. In first-half stoppage time, Ellis Harrison outmuscled Darragh Lenihan and broke through on goal. The striker opted to check back on his run instead of shooting and the chance went amiss.
In a quest for an equalising goal, Darrell Clarke made a double change, introducing Mo Baghdadi and Dom Telford, with Baghdadi becoming the latest member of the Development Squad to make a debut in the EFL. As the clocked ticked down, the home side committed more men forward. Kyle Bennett and Baghdadi combined down the right to mount a quick break, as Bennett fired a dangerous low cross into the area that narrowly missed the blue and white shirts inside the area. Chances were still presenting themselves, as Tony Craig picked out a cross from the right that was snatched out of the clutches of Raya by Gaffney, but as the ball pinballed around the six-yard area it didn't drop kindly for hosts. In the final minutes, Lee Brown's low cross from the left took a heavy deflection from substitute Paul Downing, which saw the delivery glance the post on its way behind for a corner, before a deflected free-kick didn't quite fall for Dom Telford to shoot at goal.
Following the break, the home side registered the first opportunity of the final forty-five minutes, as Byron Moore controlled a long-ball forward and touched a pass to Ollie Clarke. The midfielder patiently waited for the ball to run across his body before directing a right-footed attempt that appeared to be heading towards the target, but was deflected wide. The host kept up an attacking intent and almost took the lead when a delightfully weighted chipped ball by Kyle Bennett cut open the Blackburn defence, with the delivery landing perfectly into the path of Ellis Harrison.
A well-timed challenge by Byron Moore on the edge of the Rovers lifted the pressure on the Rovers back-four as the winger set off on a run down the right before lifting a ball into the path of Ellis Harrison. In a wide position, the striker shielded the ball and picked out the advancing Ollie Clarke, who shot just wide of the target from twenty-five yards out. The move by Moore instigated a run of chances, as Ellis Harrison picked out the unmarked Kyle Bennett, with the forward having the option to run a pace into the final third. Bennett broke to edge of the area, before checking back his run to shift the ball to his right foot, but his eventual attempt was blocked.
The first chance of the game for the home side escalated when Byron Moore produced a silky sequence of footwork on the edge of the Blackburn area that allowed him to work a pass through to Kyle Bennett. Bennett took a touch to set the ball out of his feet and launched a left-footed attempt that continued to rise over the frame of the goal. A rushed clearance from Ollie Clarke resulted in Blackburn breaking into the Rovers area, as Danny Graham attempted to force a pass across the face of goal to Bradley Dack, who ballooned his first-time attempt over the crossbar, with both Tony Craig and Tom Broadbent tracking back.
The changes came in the shape of Chris Lines and Tom Broadbent, who replaced Bernard Mensah and Liam Sercombe. Amongst the substitutes, Mo Baghdadi was included, as the forward became the latest Development Squad member to feature in the matchday squad. The battle of the Bennetts looked primed to be a key feature of the afternoon, as the pair lined up in direct competition, with Kyle Bennett operating in wide left berth, while his brother, Elliott, was selected at right-back for the visitors. In the early moments, there was an anxious period for the home side, as a free-kick kick from Charlie Mulgrew crept underneath the crossbar, with Sam Slocombe alert to the effort to tip the ball around the upright. Tom Broadbent was caught in possession in the middle of the pitch by Richie Smallwood, as the Blackburn broke at speed through Craig Conway. With Lee Brown in pursuit, Conway directed a lofted ball to the far post that was glanced wide of the target by Danny Graham.