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Ewood roars its approval as gutsy Blackburn Rovers beat West Brom

Ewood roars its approval as gutsy Blackburn Rovers beat West Brom

A sun-kissed Ewood roared his approval as Jon Dahl Tomasson’s squad became the first Rovers team to win their first three league games since 1988/89.

They leaned on every ounce of energy on a leg-juicing afternoon to watch out for 11 extra minutes, with a makeshift backline.

Ben Brereton showed two moments of quality to score one and set up the other for Sam Gallagher on either side of halftime, with Rovers rushing out of the blocks after the restart and threatening to blow the visitors away.

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An accidental attack from Grady Diangana ended Rovers’ run without giving in, but with Daniel Ayala, a man at the heart of a botched backline, and the crowd urging them on, they almost held out.

An injury to Scott Wharton gave Ash Phillips the chance to make his league debut just six weeks after his 17th birthday.

While Rovers came into the game with a 100 per cent start, West Brom was also in a positive mood after taking points from fellow promotion fighters Watford and Middlesbrough and beating Sheffield United in the cup.

With Jed Wallace safe from Millwall on a free transfer, the Baggies completed one of the division’s standouts over the summer, and he was always expected to pose a threat.

It was his second minute corner where an unmarked Darnell Furlong headed over the top before John Swift tested Thomas Kaminski with a long range free kick equalized by the keeper.

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Ryan Hedges’ was Rovers’ in-form man in the first two league games, with three assists to his name. He almost got a fourth when he shot a ball over the goal after being found well by Callum Brittain, who was turned into his own goal by Jake Livermore and kept well away by a surprised David Button.

The star of the first 20 minutes went in the direction of the visitors. It was made by Wallace, another nice delivery from the right made Kaminski hesitate, with Grady Diangana stealing a march on Callum Brittain, but he could only head wide.

Rovers, however, did not step back, despite the visitors shaping the opening exchanges. They were committed to tackle and also willing to push players forward on offense.

The battle between Lewis Travis and Jake Livermore in the middle of the park was well underway, but while Rovers worked hard to contain the West Brom threat, they struggled to create much for themselves.

Still, a moment of Chilean international quality gave them the lead four minutes before half-time. Brittain found Gallagher whose touch was taken over by Brereton, while his shorts skillfully found the bottom corner.

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A Rovers defense who was already not a regular at Wharton, his run of 32 consecutive leagues is drawing to a close, Tomasson was forced to make another change as Great Britain had to be replaced.

Tyler Morton was on and involved in Rovers’ second goal, which came three minutes after the restart.

The hosts went wild, Brereton and Morton making contact before the goalscorer of Rovers’ first attacking Gallagher, who fired a shot with his left foot into the corner.

The intensity of Rovers proved too much for the visitors, who looked shocked so soon after coming out for the second half.

It was an impromptu defense for Rovers however, John Buckley went back to the right to accommodate the departure of Great Britain and the arrival of Morton.

Still, the thoroughbred challenges continue, with Morton especially sharp in the tackle, while Phillips threw himself in the way of a Conor Townsend long-distance runner.

Rovers had played 330 minutes of football this season without giving in. That streak was broken by a huge chunk of fortune when Diangana’s shot made a huge deflection off the hapless Phillips, misdirecting Kaminski and finding the corner.

Changing the whole momentum and feel around Ewood, the Baggies were revived and energized by the goal and also a triple change made by Steve Bruce.

Rovers’ task was made even more difficult when Phillips had to be replaced, with Tayo Edun in place while Pickering moved to centre-back.

Tyrhys Dolan and Bradley Dack were then forwarded as Rovers also wanted to add more energy to their side.

Dack got a shot blocked shortly after his introduction, but it was the Rovers target that was most threatened. Kaminski made a brilliant stop when he threw himself in front of a shot from Karlan Grant as the striker looked ready to turn in a cross from Diangana.

Rovers were on their feet, the fans scrambling to raise their voices, then the energy levels of those on the pitch in the grueling heat.

The 11 minutes of extra time signaled did little to ease the build-up tension, with Dack and Travis booking in quick succession as Rovers desperately tried to hold their own.

Hearts in the mouth in the eighth of the eighth, Kaminski hit for a corner he didn’t get, but Semi Ajayi’s header went wide of the far post.

Ewood rose at the final whistle as Rovers took a win to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.

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