Match: Blackburn Rovers v Aston Villa
Date: April 29, 2017
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
Venue: Ewood Park
Weather: 12C, partly cloudy
Danny Graham (54 mins)
Villa fell to a narrow defeat in their final away match of the 2016/17 Championship campaign.
Danny Graham’s strike early in the second half proved to be the difference.
Steve Bruce made three changes to the side which saw off Birmingham City with Jonathan Kodjia returning from suspension and Gary Gardner and Conor Hourihane coming into midfield.
In what was a must-win game in their bid to avoid relegation, the home side started well and went close as Derrick Williams capitalised on some hesitation but fired wide of Sam Johnstone’s goal.
That set the tone for a first half which was, by and large, the story of the two goalkeepers.
Villa were indebted to their on loan Manchester United stopper – his low save denying Rovers academy graduate Ryan Nyambe.
Graham’s snapshot then deflected into the path of Elliott Bennett – Johnstone producing the goods once more.
At the other end, Ivory Coast international Kodjia looked the most likely for Villa – his dipping strike forcing a fine low save from David Raya.
The visitors finished the first period on the front foot and Henri Lansbury’s free-kick was gathered by Raya.
Once again Tony Mowbray’s men were quick out of the traps as the second period got underway.
They took the lead on 54 minutes – Graham latching onto skipper Jason Lowe’s ball in and firing home.
From then on there was more precision in Villa's passing, just lacking the final ball in the last third.
With 20 minutes remaining, there were worrying signs for Villa - Kodjia was stretchered off after picking up an injury.
In the closing stages, substitute Albert Adomah’s effort was over the Rovers goal before Lucas Joao shot wide for the hosts.
BLACKBURN: Raya, Williams, Lowe (C) (Akpan 87), Graham (Conway 75), Mulgrew, Ward, Gallagher (Joao 90), Guthrie, Nyambe, Leniham, Bennett. Unused subs: Steele, Hoban, Emnes, Mahoney.
VILLA: Johnstone, Hutton, Chester (C), Baker, Taylor, Gardner, Lansbury (Agbonlahor 64), Bacuna, Hourihane (Adomah 73), Kodjia (Grealish 71), Hogan. Unused subs: Bunn, Bree, Amavi, Elphick.
Referee: Mr G.Eltringham
Assistant Referee 1: Mr J.Flynn
Assistant referee 2: Mr B.Smallwood
Fourth Official: Mr A.Madley