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FULL-TIME: Blackburn Rovers 0 Bournemouth 1
Updated 10:02am Thursday 13th March 2014 in News
ROVERS were booed off the pitch last night after they went down to a third straight league defeat for the first time this season.
Lewis Grabban’s 67th-minute goal gave Bournemouth a deserved victory – their third on the run – and condemned Gary Bowyer’s confidence-drained side to a loss that seemingly leaves their play-off hopes in tatters.
With Ipswich, Brighton and Reading all triumphing on Tuesday it was imperative that Rovers returned to winning ways after two straight defeats in order to keep in touch with the top six.
But after a bright first five minutes it quickly became apparent that was never going to happen on what was a desperately disappointing evening.
The reverse means Rovers remain nine points behind sixth-placed Reading, having played one game fewer, going into Saturday’s must-win trip to Huddersfield Town.
Rovers boss Bowyer, for what was his 50th match in charge of the club, made two changes to the team which started Sunday’s disheartening derby defeat to Burnley by dropping the out-of-form Adam Henley and the not fully fit David Dunn to the bench and replacing them with Todd Kane and Rudy Gestede.
Bournemouth, in contrast to their hosts, came into the match with a spring in their step after back-to-back victories and clean sheets.
But that did not stop their manager, former Burnley boss Eddie Howe, from altering his line-up as he opted to deploy a fifth midfielder in the form of Harry Arter meaning Grabban started up front on his own.
And the Cherries top scorer had a golden chance to put his in-form side ahead in the fifth minute after a pass down the line from Ian Harte evaded Grant Hanley.
But Grabban, clean through on goal, could only side-foot straight at Robinson before his second effort was blocked by the retreating Hanley.
Robinson was tested again in the 12th minute when he got down low to his left to push Matt Ritchie’s 25-yard daisy cutter around the post.
It was not until the 18th minute that Rovers forced Lee Camp into his first save of the game as Jordan Rhodes, in space on the edge of the area, shot straight at the underworked Bournemouth goalkeeper. The hosts were in desperate need of inspiration.
But none was forthcoming and they had to rely on the woodwork and Robinson to ensure they went in level at half-time.
After the impressive Ritchie saw another long-range strike deflect inches wide, the unmarked Steve Cook headed against the post from an inswinging Harte corner.
Harte then sent over another corner which was cleverly worked out to Simon Francis who, from 25 yards, let rip with a rising drive that Robinson tipped over the bar.
Rovers, who had blitzed Bournemouth with a sparkling first-half display in their 3-1 win at the Goldsands Stadium in September, were met by jeers at the break and although they showed sign of improvement after the restart, with Michael Keane heading a Craig Conway corner wide, it was no surprise when Bowyer brought on Dunn and Liam Feeney for Gestede and Luke Varney.
The double substitution, though, did not have the desired effect as the Cherries took in the lead through Grabban 23 minutes from time.
The striker was afforded time and space 25 yards from goal and he punished Rovers by firing low past Robinson at his near post to take his tally for the term up to 15.
And it could have got worse for moments later had Robinson not denied Cook from close range.
If Rovers, who were forced to withdrawn captain Hanley with 15 minutes to go, were going to get back into the game it was clear it would come through the tireless Conway.
The hard-working winger sent over one inviting cross which Tommy Elphick did well to clear behind for a corner and another which Rhodes headed wide.
But, despite some late pressure, Bournemouth held on comfortably to claim their first league win at Ewood Park.
Rovers: Robinson, Kane, Hanley (Williamson 75), Keane, Spurr, Varney (Feeney 62), Evans, Lowe, Conway, Gestede (Dunn 62), Rhodes. Subs not used: Eastwood, Taylor, Dabo, Henley.
Bournemouth: Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie (Coulibay 82), Arter, O’Kane, Surman (MacDonald 86), Fraser (Pugh 54), Grabban. Subs not used: Allsop, Pitman, Smith, Rantie.
Goal: Grabban 67.
Referee: David Webb.
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