It was a goal worthy of winning any game, Colin’s header the perfect end to a sublime five-man move and proving enough to beat Blackburn.BCFC
It was a goal worthy of winning any game, Colin’s header the perfect end to a sublime five-man move and proving enough to beat Blackburn.
Blues had other chances to increase their advantage, notably Lukas Jutkiewicz’s fierce shot that crashed back off the bar, whilst Lee Camp’s fingertips ensured the visitors didn’t grab an equaliser late on.
There were two changes to the Blues side that lost narrowly at Leeds, the suspended Ivan Sunjic replaced by David Davis whilst Kerim Mrabti was preferred as the strike-partner for Jutkiewicz, Alvaro Gimenez dropping to the bench.
Sam Gallagher was the only alteration to Blackburn’s last starting 11 as he lined up against his former loan club. And the ex-Southampton man was the first to try his luck on goal, his low effort from 20 yards flashing wide of Camp’s right-hand post.
Blues responded with an opening of their own and it came from a long punt forward from Camp, Jutkiewicz flicking on for Mrabti whose shot was well blocked by Tosin Adarabioyo.
A great pass from Mrabti carved open the Rovers defence on 15 minutes after he’d showed good alertness to steal possession of the ball in the middle of the visitors’ half. The Swede teed up Fran Villalba with a shooting chance, the Spaniard’s drive beaten away by Christian Walton.
Crowley fired just over the bar from the same attack, but the midfield playmaker got an even better opportunity moments later when he advanced into the area, Adarabioyo again in the right place to get in the way of his eventual effort.
Both defences were on their metal, Kristian Pedersen on his toes to prevent Armstrong’s shot from troubling Camp after he’d been put through by Gallagher.
Blues continued to knock on the Blackburn door, a good interchange between Crowley and Mrabti setting up Jude Bellingham with a sight of goal, the teenager’s shot from the edge of the area beaten away by Walton.
Bellingham instead turned creator as he started the move that led to Blues taking the lead with a sublime fast-paced attack on 31 minutes.
From well inside his own half, the 16-year-old brought Mrabti into the play, who in turn laid the ball through for Crowley. The former Arsenal youngster played a neat one-two with Villalba before dinking a beautiful cross from the left wing towards the far post where Colin rose to head home.
Blues went in at the break one-up and were looking good for their lead, but Rovers came straight out of the traps after the interval in search of a leveller. Lewis Travers was allowed the time and space to crash in a shot from 25 yards but fortunately his effort was deflected over. Then from the second of two successive corners, Adarabioyo rose unmarked in the centre of the area but couldn’t get over the ball enough to send his header on target.
Josh McEachran was introduced for his debut on 62 minutes, Bellingham making way, whilst Tony Mowbray also decided to shuffle his pack at the same time, Danny Graham and Joe Rothwell thrown into the fray.
That proved the precursor to a crazy couple of minutes as Clotet’s side gave the ball away on numerous occasions but fortunately weren’t punished, the spell of Blackburn pressure ending with Stewart Downing flashing a low shot wide of the right post.
Blues really needed the cushion of a second goal and it almost arrived on 69 minutes, another sweeping move involving Crowley and Jutkiewicz ending with Villalba’s sidefooted effort from 15 yards being turned away by the feet of Walton.
The hosts came even closer to increasing their lead three minutes later, Jutkiewicz letting fly with a fizzing drive from 25 yards that crashed off the underside of the bar and bounced down just in front of the line.
Jutkiewicz then pounced on some hesitancy in the Rovers defence to nip the ball away from Walton almost by the byline, but as the Blues striker turned and struck a shot towards goal from the narrowest of angles, the keeper had got back and was able to punch the ball clear.
Blues were almost guilty of gifting their opponents a route back into the game, Davis’ slip on the halfway line setting Rovers on a counter-attack that ended with Danny Graham’s low shot veering narrowly wide of the post.
And moments later an unfortunate deflection off Davis sent Elliott Bennett’s shot looping up and over Camp, but thankfully the Blues keeper scurried backwards and brilliantly tipped the ball over the bar.
Clotet’s men lived on the nerve in the closing moments but undoubtedly deserved to take the spoils, a victory that moves Blues up one place to 11th, three points adrift of the play-off places ahead of another home game this weekend against Luton Town.
Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Colin, Dean, Roberts, Pedersen; Villalba, Bellingham (McEachran 62), Davis, Crowley (Maghoma 73); Mrabti (Gimenez 79), Jutkiewicz.
Subs (not used): Harding, Clarke-Salter, Bailey, Stockdale (GK).
Goal: Colin (31)
Bookings: Dean (55), Davis (67)
Blackburn Rovers: Walton; Nyambe, Adarabioyo, Williams; Bennett, Travis, Johnson (Rothwell 62), Downing (Buckley 76); Dack, Armstrong; Gallagher (Graham 62).
Subs (not used): Bell, Evans, Rankin-Costello, Leutwiler (GK).
Bookings: Williams (85), Buckley (90+3)
Attendance: 18,561 (679 away)