Blackburn see off Bristol City

12 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Blackburn moved to within two points of the play-offs with a 2-1 win over Bristol City.

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s men halted a two-game losing streak thanks to Arnor Sigurdsson’s fifth of the campaign in the 35th minute before Scott Wharton’s towering header early in the second half doubled their advantage.

However, they were made to work for the points thanks to a spirited response from the Robins who pulled a goal back in the 60th minute through Mark Sykes’ close-range finish and from there, the visitors were the much better side.

Liam Manning’s side could easily have come away with a share of the spoils but found Blackburn goalkeeper Leo Wahlstedt in inspired form and he made a hat-trick of late saves to thwart Jason Knight.

Rovers remain well placed for a top-six push but while City have only won one of six under Manning, they can take heart from a performance that so nearly produced a fightback.

The Robins frustrated the hosts early on and created the best chances, though Sam Bell’s 10th-minute effort sailed wide of the upright. Tommy Conway almost profited from sloppy play from Adam Wharton but his ferocious effort was too high.

Blackburn were uncharacteristically loose in possession but found their feet and after Sammie Szmodics curled a free-kick just wide, they took the lead 10 minutes before the break with their first flowing move of the game when Adam Wharton’s pass was flicked by Szmodics into Sigurdsson whose touch took him into the area and he casually lifted the ball into the left corner.

It boosted the hosts who finished the half strongly and doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute when Adam Wharton’s deep corner found his brother Scott who rose powerfully to head home at the back post.

The visitors fought back admirably with Conway flashing one just wide soon after before they halved the deficit on the hour.

Taylor Gardner-Hickman pounced on a loose ball before Jason Knight cleverly fed Sykes on the right to slot home from 12 yards for his fourth goal of the season.

It completely changed the complexion of the game and Knight was thwarted three times by Wahlstedt.

First, his low 25-yard drive was parried behind by the sprawling keeper, before a lung-busting Sykes run and cross found the midfielder who swivelled and shot but Wahlstedt was down smartly again to deny him.

Knight went close again with 10 minutes remaining but could only direct his header straight at Sykes and though they kept pressing, City could not force the elusive equaliser.

The managers

Blackburn’s Jon Dahl Tomasson:

“I think the first half we weren’t brave enough. We turned a lot of opportunities down to play forward. I know that Bristol were defending really well and kept the pitch compact but we should have played more forward. We scored an excellent goal. An extremely clinical finish, what we’ve been missing in the last weeks. It was a great goal and a great pass that hurt. We spoke at half-time that we need to do that more. Don’t turn those passes down.

“I think we started extremely well in the second half, scored a well-worked corner. Great to see the whole Wharton family, not only the two boys involved in that goal but also the whole family in the stand. When we conceded that goal, it gets a bit nervous and you can see the squad is a bit stretched. The boys were digging in. When you’re not playing that well, it’s always great to get three points.”

Bristol City’s Liam Manning:

“Obviously the (first) goal knocked us a bit. We got a little emotional after that, felt sorry for ourselves. Then to be fair, disappointing to concede off a corner. Subs came on, we scored straight away and I thought actually the last 25-30 showed what we need to be about which is that fight, togetherness, that spirit, intensity in how we work. Just gave ourselves too big a challenge to overcome.

“I think the scoreline takes away some of the context in terms of whether they become a little more passive because they were two ahead. I think overall if you were to go on chances, there wasn’t a lot in it for me in terms of areas we got into, chances we created, shots on goal were quite similar, if not we had more on target I believe. So yes, I’m always going to sit here and say maybe we should get something out of the game.”

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