Late Blackburn equaliser denies Town three points
An added-time equaliser from visitors Blackburn denied Town a fourth straight win, but Neil Warnock’s men were given a standing ovation off the pitch after a monumental effort against another Play-Off chasing side.
Town went two goals up thanks to another Matty Pearson header and a first John Smith’s Stadium goal for Jack Rudoni, but Blackburn deserved their point on the balance of play.
Despite the disappointment at full-time, this point extended our record to 11 from the last available 15 against some of the division’s best sides.
Warnock made one change from the side that won at Watford on Good Friday, with Joseph Hungbo returning for a first appearance in five games at the expense of Rarmani Edmonds-Green.
It was the visitors who made the running early doors, with 85% possession for the men in red in the opening quarter of an hour. Young midfielder Adam Wharton had their first effort inside eight minutes – a tame effort straight at Tomáš Vaclík – before our Czech international was called upon to make a much better save two minutes later, getting down low to his left to push away Joe Rankin-Costello’s goalbound effort from just 15 yards out.
Then, typical of the run Town came into the game on, Warnock’s men took the lead with their first proper attack in the 16th minute. In-form Josh Koroma won a corner on our left side, allowing Rudoni to drift a corner towards the back post. Tom Lees won the first header, and a Blackburn player diverted it towards his own goal, meaning goalkeeper Aynsley Pears head to tip the ball into the air. The ball looped right over Matty Pearson, who had the simple task of nodding the ball into the vacant net for his fourth in just three games!
Town soon doubled the advantage, with Rudoni’s first John Smith’s Stadium goal. This time Vaclík’s long free kick was flicked on by Ward’s head into the path of Hungbo, who went on the outside of his man and crossed low for Jack to get across the defender and nutmeg the goalkeeper at close range.
Blackburn moved the ball nicely and still carried a threat, as they showed on the half hour as top scorer Ben Brereton Diaz broke our offside trap. Thankfully he was running wide as he tried his luck and only succeeded in pulling his low shot well wide.
Play went quickly to the other end, where David Kasumu broke clear from a clever flick by Ward. He charged towards the Blackburn area but made a mess of his attempted through ball to Koroma. That allowed Rovers to launch a counter-attack, but thankfully Sammie Szmodics was flagged offside.
Szmodics was dangerous at times, and it took another great block from Lees to deny him a clear shot at goal inside the area in the 38th minute.
Unfortunately, the tone of the second half was set when Blackburn reduced the arrears inside 90 seconds. Although Blackburn’s corner was initially cleared, they kept the ball alive, and Rankin-Costello got into the area thanks to a one-two with Dolan before deftly lifting the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.
Blackburn continued to boss the ball thereafter, but Town defended the box so well, with bodies flying into tackles and blocks. When Blackburn did get a chance to shoot, they found Vaclík in inspired form.
Town had chances on the break again but couldn’t capitalise. An excellent pass from Hogg sent Koroma into space down the left in the 67th minute and he cut inside Carter, only for a defender to block his goalbound shot wide.
Vaclík saved well from substitute Harry Leonard moments later, but then Hogg should have done better with a header from a wide Rudoni free-kick won by David Kasumu.
Town got a bit lucky with 10 minutes left when a pass from Morton dribbled straight through the penalty area before hitting the far post, with Pearson clearing the rebound ahead of Leonard.
The impressive Rankin-Costello forced two further excellent saves from Vaclík as the minutes passed by, but Blackburn did manage to equalise late on when Rankin-Costello’s header was saved, only for substitute Hedges to knock home the rebound.
Town’s team (4-3-3)
Tomáš Vaclík; Matty Pearson, Tom Lees, Michał Helik, Josh Ruffels; David Kasumu, Jonathan Hogg (c), Jack Rudoni; Joseph Hungbo (Ben Jackson, 77’), Danny Ward (Kian Harratt, 86’), Josh Koroma (Scott High, 86’)
Nicholas Bilokapic; Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Tyreece Simpson, Matthew Lowton
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