Blackburn Rovers 2-4 Reading: Clinical Royals maintain their lead at the top after hard fought win at Ewood Park
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Blackburn Rovers welcomed Championship league leaders Reading to Ewood Park, with the hosts looking to push on towards the play-off places, whilst the visitors were looking to keep up their fantastic start to the season, they were unbeaten in all seven league fixtures going into this game.

Both sides were coming into this match on the back of convincing wins over newly promoted teams, Rovers beat Coventry City 4-0 and Veljko Paunović’s Royals were victorious over Rotherham United, coming away 3-0 winners.

Reading were sitting pretty at the top of the Championship table coming into this fixture, whilst Tony Mowbray's side had shown promising signs, particularly in front of goal, with Adam Armstrong having already scored seven goals in the first seven league games, something which no other player in the league had bettered. 

Story of the match

First Half:

Straight from kick-off, Aynsley Pears came off his line after a long ball from Reading with no apparent danger, although the ball hit the heel of Barry Douglas before giving Yakou Meite the simple task of tapping the ball into an empty net after just nine seconds, giving the Royals the earliest lead of the season.

Just a couple of minutes later, Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott got to the by-line for Rovers and picked out Adam Armstrong with a cross, who expertly guided the ball into the corner of the net, maintaining his position at the top of the Championship scoring charts.

On the fifteen minute mark, after a Reading throw on the right, it suddenly became a three-on-one situation in favour of the visitors. Joe Rankin-Costello missed a tackle and Michael Olise ran at Derrick Williams, who made a lunge for the ball, but the midfielder evaded the tackle before rolling the ball into the bottom corner.

18 minutes in and Reading continued to apply the pressure, Omar Richards’ ball from the left-hand side was cleared as far as Josh Laurent who brilliantly curled the ball in off the post to give the Royals a two goal lead.

Lucas Joao’s fiercely hit cross from the right-hand side on the half hour mark just needed a touch to make it four for the visitors, but no one was there on hand to finish.

Ben Brereton’s header back across goal was then flicked towards goal by Armstrong but Rafael Cabral was able to hold onto it.

A clinical display from the Royals saw them go into the break with a deserved lead, the hosts probably had the better of it in the final 15 minutes but didn’t create too many clear cut chances.

Second half:

Eight minutes into the second half, Barry Douglas’ ball into the box seemed to be inch perfect for Armstrong, who just needed to get a touch on the ball to get the hosts back into the game, but he couldn’t quite connect with the ball.

With 15 minutes to go, a terrific delivery from Rankin-Costello was met by Armstrong who guided his header out of the reach of Cabral, bringing the hosts back into the game.

After 78 minutes, Reading nearly regained their two goal advantage on the counter attack, Pears made a great save to deny a Williams own goal after a cross from the left hand-side.

For much of the second half, Blackburn were applying the pressure in an attempt to get themselves back in the game, with the visitors looking to hit them on the break.

10 minutes from time, Lewis Holtby found some space on the edge of the box after coming in from the left, although his effort was saved by the Reading 'keeper, with the resulting corner leading to nothing.

With eight minutes to go, Lucas Joao got a fourth for Reading on the break, he ran into the left-hand side of the box, opened up his body and placed the ball into the far corner to continue his fine run of form.

On the 90th minute, Armstrong was denied a hat-trick when he won yet another header in the box, Cabral had to be at full stretch to make the save.

That was the last real chance of the game, even though Blackburn had much more of the ball, Reading were very clinical and punished Rovers for their errors. Despite a brilliant performance from the likes of Armstrong for the hosts, they were beaten 4-2.

Takeaways

Clinical Royals

Despite Blackburn having more attacks in the game, it was the clinical nature of the Royals that ensured they took away all three points.

The first goal came after just nine seconds with Meite already ready to pounce on a mistake, whilst the goals from Olise, Laurent and Joao were all brilliant and clinical finishes.

Whether it was at their earlier dominant spell or the late counter attacks, Paunovic’s side showed a real ruthlessness in front of goal and looked worthy of a side at the very top of the Championship table.

Errors proved costly for Rovers

Blackburn will be disappointed with the manner that they conceded some of their goals in this one, the first after just nine seconds was unfortunate but frustrating with the ‘keeper off his line, allowing Meite to strike.

The second goal was perhaps the worst from a Blackburn perspective, shortly after a Reading throw, the hosts found themselves in a one versus three situation, which they were punished for.

Soon after that a clearance from a Reading cross fell to Laurent who had all the time in the world to have a go at goal and ultimately score.

As good as they looked going forward at times, they simply cannot afford to make so many errors defensively, as they will almost certainly be punished for them again.

Man of the match: Adam Armstrong

It’s not often that a side will win a game, score four goals but arguably not have the man of the match in their team.

In the end there wasn’t any way to look beyond Armstrong, another couple of goals have seen him go ahead of Ivan Toney in the goal scoring table, whilst he could easily have had at least one more on another day, creating danger with the ball at his feet and in the air.

Having him in the side means Blackburn will be dangerous this season and continue to score plenty of goals.

 

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