(Mulgrew, 13) (Graham 60) (Mulgrew, pen 69)


(Nolan, pen 35)

CHARLIE Mulgrew scored twice as Rovers put in one of their most impressive performances of the season to beat promotion rivals Shrewsbury Town at Ewood Park.

Not even a controversial penalty for the visitors, which saw them level in the first half, could deny Rovers a deserved three points.

Mulgrew had Rovers ahead with a 25-yard free-kick, before scoring from the spot to make it 3-1 midway through the second half. Danny Graham scored his ninth of the campaign to restore Rovers’ lead on the hour mark.

The win sees Rovers close the gap to the automatic promotion places to just two points with 20 games of the season remaining.

Rovers looked to start on the front foot and forced the save of the game after just five minutes. Bradley Dack showed good feet before playing in Craig Conway whose cross found Graham. He found a yard of space before shooting on the turn, with Dean Henderson saving low away to his right.

The Manchester United loanee would pull of an even better save two minutes later, this time to deny Dack. Bennett’s ball was cushioned by Dominic Samuel in to path of Dack whose effort looked destined for the far corner, only for the ‘keeper to tip it around the post.

Rovers were really looking to get at the visitors but were indebted to a good block from Mulgrew to deny Morris getting a shot away as Shrewsbury launched a counter-attack.

And within a minute the skipper would curl his side ahead with his 10th of the season. After Samuel was hauled down, the Scot curled the free-kick up and over the wall and in to the corner despite Henderson’s best attempt.

Rovers were good value for their lead and seemingly beating the visitors at their own game with some excellent pressing.

It took Shrewsbury until the 31st minute to register a shot at goal, Alex Rodman firing wide of David Raya’s near post after collecting Omar Beckles’ pass on the left edge of the box.

But then came a huge turning point in the 35th minute as the visitors levelled from a controversial penalty. Referee John Brooks was quick to award the spot-kick after Carlton Morris went down under the challenge of Raya. The Rovers players protested but the decision stood, with Jon Nolan slotting the penalty home.

The crowd were incensed, having previously not been happy that Beckles wasn’t shown a second yellow card for a foul on Samuel moments before.

Rovers’ quest to re-take the lead before the break saw Graham rise highest to meet a Conway cross, but his glancing header was watched wide by Henderson.

The first opening of the second half saw Nolan presented with a good chance to score his second of the afternoon. Paul Downing midjudged the flight of the ball which allowed Morris to make yards down the left before finding Nolan but under pressure, he fired wide.

Rovers thought they had re-taken the lead in the 51st minute, only for the officials to again deny them. Downing found himself unmarked at the far post and lashed home from six yards, only for Rovers to be penalised for a push in the build-up.

As the referee continued to irritate the  home fans Rodman drove forward and blasted wide on the hour mark with the game evenly poised.

But with Adam Armstrong poised and ready to make his Rovers debut he watched on as his side re-took the lead. Dack shot beat the keeper but not the post, with Graham on the spot though to turn in the rebound.

Armstrong was sent on, in place of Conway, and almost scored with his second touch. Samuel’s cut-back found him, with his miss-hit shot saved on the line by Henderson.

Rovers were really trying to press home their advantage and made it 3-1 with 21 minutes to play through a penalty of their own. This one was less controversial, but still the referee took an age to give it as Samuel was flattened by the onrushing Henderson.

Mulgrew stepped up and after a stuttered run-up, rolled the ball in to the corner for his 11th of the campaign.

Shrewsbury made a double switch and looked to force a way back in to things, with Nyambe making a good block to deny Ogogo with 14 minutes to play.

Graham deserved his ovation as he was replaced by Joe Nuttall with 10 minutes to play before Samuel got a good hand as he was replaced by Lewis Travis.

Amstrong showed some nice touches after coming on, and all three substitutes combined before the end, with the move ending with Max Lowe blocking Travis’ effort.

But Rovers saw the game out with relative comfort to extend their unbeaten run to 15 league matches.