Inspired changes

Following our victory over Peterborough, we host 8th-placed Blackburn Rovers and go into the game as 13/8 underdogs. Victor Piturca, the Romanian manager, is one of the 8,714 in attendance and he’s watching Dacian Varga and Gaman. I make two changes, with Ryan Mason coming in for Michel and Federico Cenci replacing Jonny Hayes. The changes work well – in the fifth minute, Mason curls in a 25 yarder for his first goal of the season and to give us a flying start. Nine minutes later, we go close to extending the lead when an outswinging Bertin Matip corner is met by Michele Marconi at the near post, but cleared off the line by the Rovers defence. The action then calms down until the 31st minute when Limberksy is booked for fouling Varga. Two minutes later, Scocco shoots from 18 yards, but Jonathan Bond is able to tip it over for a corner. In the 37th minute, we go close to doubling our lead again from a set piece; this time an inswinging Matip corner is met by Cenci, who heads just wide. Two minutes before the break, Scocco has another go from 18 yards, but Bond gets down well and holds on. Two minutes into stoppage time, the dual between Scocco and Bond continues and Bond wins again, pushing a shot from 20 yards behind for a corner. We clear the corner and Mason picks up on the clearance, but he can only shoot straight at Forster.

The first action of note in the second half comes in the 56th minute when a cross by Varga from the left hits Tomkins, but Forster is alert and prevents an embarrassing own goal. In the 65th minute, Mphela levels from 6 yards after a right wing cross. He runs off celebrating, but stops in his tracks when he sees the linesman’s flag up for offside. We’re still winning 1-0, but it shows that it’s not comfortable. A minute later, I make my first change as Aiman Mustafa comes on for Marconi. Mustafa gets on the end of an outswinging Matip corner in the 78th minute, but doesn’t strike it cleanly. Thankfully, the ball falls to Cenci who scores his 9th goal of the season from 2 yards to give us a 2-0 lead. Two changes coming into the match and they both score! Jay Spearing comes on for Bradley Johnson in the 82nd minute as I look to shut the game down. McGugan enters the referee’s book in the 87th minute for a foul on Matip. A minute from time, Bond saves well from Goodwillie, but can’t hold on. The rebound falls to Scocco. It’s going to be a grandstand fini… no it’s not – he puts the rebound wide! In the 90th minute, Mason plays in Mustafa, but he shoots straight at Forster and a minute later, Mustafa shoots just wide from 20 yards as we record a 2-0 victory. Ryan Mason is named Man of the Match with a rating of 8 and a goal. We stay 4th in the table.

Whilst we remain 4th, West Bromwich Albion wrap up the title. Konstantin Manov returns from his loan spell at Coventry.

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