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Full-time: Blackburn Rovers 2 Blackpool 0
A FIRST goal of the season for new Rovers club captain Grant Hanley sealed a comfortable and deserved victory at a wind and rain-lashed Ewood Park.
David Dunn set Gary Bowyer’s side on their way to a win which moved them up to eighth in the Championship with a wonderful solo strike in the 20th minute.
And that was the way it stayed until Hanley – who has taken over the skipper’s armband following Scott Dann’s sale to Crystal Palace – headed home seven minutes from time.
Rovers, who replaced the injured Adam Henley (Achilles) and Lee Williamson (concussion) with Todd Kane and Chris Taylor, created the first opening three minutes into the match.
The recalled Taylor, playing on the left-hand side of a midfield diamond, cut inside on to his right foot and sent over a cross which Rudy Gestede, from just inside in the box, headed over Matt Gilks’ crossbar.
But nine minutes later the struggling Seasiders, without a win in 13 games and now under the command of former Rovers midfielder Barry Ferguson, wasted an even better opportunity.
Andy Halliday’s inswinging free kick found the unmarked Isaiah Osbourne who headed over from 12 yards out when he really should have tested Paul Robinson.
Nine minutes later and Osbourne’s wastefulness was punished in thrilling fashion by Dunn.
Tom Cairney was the creator, setting the evergreen midfielder away on a run which saw him drift effortlessly past Gary MacKenzie before advancing to the edge of the area and firing an unerring left-footed drive past Gilks from 18 yards.
The lead would have wiped out six minutes later, though, had Robinson not pushed a swerving 25-Steve Davies shot, which zipped off the greasy surface, past the post.
While the rain continued to lash down the chances dried up although Kirk Broadfoot’s attempted headed clearance, from a Dunn cross, hit Jordan Rhodes and went just past Gilks’ left-hand upright.
The game livened up at the start of the second half and, after Osbourne won a 50-50 in the box with Kane, Davies side-footed into the side-netting.
Rovers went straight up the other end and Tommy Spurr took a pass from Taylor and crossed for Rhodes to flash a near-post header wide.
Hanley went closer still when his stooping header from a Dunn free kick hit Broadfoot and went narrowly wide.
Both teams then made double substitutions with debutant Craig Conway and Josh King coming on for Rovers.
And it was the lively Conway who created the 83rd-minute goal that made the game safe.
The winger – signed from Cardiff City yesterday – sent over a corner and Hanley’s downward header bounced off the ground before flying into the roof of the net despite Gilks’ best efforts to keep it out.
Gilks could have been beaten again yet Rhodes’ header, from a Conway cross, went over the bar.
The victory ended Rovers’ four-match winless run in all competitions.
Rovers: Robinson, Kane, Hanley, Kilgallon, Spurr, Taylor (King 70 (Olsson 90)), Lowe, Cairney, Dunn (Conway 69), Rhodes, Gestede. Subs not used: Eastwood, Dabo, Morris, Mahoney.
Goals: Dunn 20, Hanley 83.
Blackpool: Gilks, McMahon, Broadfoot, MacKenzie, Cathcart, Osbourne, Perkins (Dobbie 61), Basham (Tyson 81), Haroun, Halliday (Keogh 61), Davies. Subs: Warner, Chopra, Eccleston, Martinez.
Referee: Michael Naylor.
Attendance: 15,045 (1,591 away).
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