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Report: Blackburn Rovers 5 Blues 2

Blues fell to defeat against Blackburn Rovers in their last game of the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship season.

An Adam Armstrong hat-trick was the difference at Ewood Park in a match where Blues twice came from behind.

Kristian Pedersen and Lukas Jutkiewicz efforts matched goals from Armstrong and Ben Brereton, before Harvey Elliott’s finish and two further strikes from the matchwinner saw Rovers go on and take the points.

Head Coach Lee Bowyer was absent from the fixture due to family reasons, with Craig Gardner will take charge of the team.

TEAM NEWS:

There were four changes to the side that hosted Cardiff City in Blues final home game last weekend. Kristian Pedersen and Nico Gordon came into the defence, with Rekeem Harper and Gary Gardner starting in midfield. There was also a first involvement in the matchday squad for Keyendrah Simmonds.

MAIN EVENT: 

Amidst blustery conditions in Lancashire, it was the hosts who had the game’s first chance after three minutes. Rovers’ top-scorer Armstrong fancied his chances from outside of the area but was left frustrated as his free-kick came back off the crossbar.

Although, with the weather failing to drastically improve, neither side was able to create anything as notable until Blues took the lead with 22-minutes on the clock. Blackburn were unable to deal with a flighted Steve Seddon set-piece and as Thomas Kaminski dropped the ball, Pedersen was on hand to finish into the unguarded net.

Unfortunately, the lead only lasted four minutes as Armstrong got his customary goal, converting from 12-yards after Jonathan Leko was adjudged to have fouled Amari’i Bell inside the area.

This setback failed to deter Blues’ first-half efforts and, during what was another assured central-midfield display, Ryan Stirk whistled a shot wide of the near post from 25-yards out.

However, the away side fell behind on the stroke of half-time following a well-worked Blackburn move. Former Blues man Sam Gallagher played Brereton in behind and the striker finished cooly beyond Trueman.

Half-time: Blackburn Rovers 2 Blues 1

Blues made two changes at the interval and one of those instantly pulled the visitors level. Stirk’s expansive pass found Seddon, with the full-back’s perfect cross being met by Jutkiewicz just moments after his introduction.

That header also meant he finishes up as top goalscorer for the season, edging out fellow frontman Scott Hogan by a single counter, and finishing top of the charts in successive campaigns.

The hosts then restored their lead 19 minutes from time as their own leading marksmen got his second of the afternoon. Running at Blues’ backline, Armstrong unleashed a skidded left-footed effort for Tony Mowbray’s men.

Blackburn sealed the final-day win as they scored their fourth and fifth goals of the game in the space of two minutes late on. First Elliott finished deftly when through on goal, before Armstrong completed his treble with a low finish after cutting inside.

KEY MOMENT:

Armstrong’s second of the afternoon was a blow that Blues could not recover from as a much-changed side were beaten in the North West.

FINAL OUTCOME:

Blues finish up in 18th position having collected a total of 52 points.

MATCH DETAILS:

Blackburn Rovers (4-3-3):  Thomas Kaminski, Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan (captain), Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Daniel Ayala 58), Amari’i Bell, Lewis Travis, Jacob Davenport (Stewart Downing 58), John Buckley, Ben Brereton (Tyrhys Dolan 67), Adam Armstrong, Sam Gallagher (Harvey Elliott 58).

Substitutes not used: Aynsley Pears, Bradley Johnson, Barry Douglas, Cory Evans, Elliott Bennett.

Booking: None.

Blues (4-3-3): Connal Trueman, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Nico Gordon, Kristian Pedersen, Steve Seddon, Gary Gardner, Ryan Stirk (Mikel San José 82), Rekeem Harper (Riley McGree 76), Jonathan Leko (Alen Halilović 46), Sam Cosgrove (Lukas Jutkiewicz 46), Amari Miller ( 79).

Substitutes not used: Zach Jeacock, Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Jeremie Bela.

Booking: Stirk 40.

Referee: Rob Jones.

NEXT STEPS:

With the campaign concluded, attention will soon turn to next term. Fixtures for the 2021/22 Sky Bet Championship season are scheduled for release on Thursday 24 June, 9am.

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