REPORT: Blackburn 3-2 MK Dons: Gomez leaves it late

Blackburn Rovers midfielder on loan from Sunderland, Jordi Gomez (14)  celebrates his goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-163655002
Blackburn Rovers midfielder on loan from Sunderland, Jordi Gomez (14) celebrates his goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-163655002

Jordi Gomez’s superb free kick three minutes into stoppage time to give Blackburn Rovers a 3-2 win over MK Dons at Ewood Park.

A scrappy first half saw chances few and far between, but Dons led through a Samir Carruthers effort from the edge of the area.

Blackburn Rovers  celebrate Blackburn Rovers midfielder on loan from Sunderland, Jordi Gomez (14)  goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-164943002

Blackburn Rovers celebrate Blackburn Rovers midfielder on loan from Sunderland, Jordi Gomez (14) goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-164943002

Rovers looked renewed in the second half though, and were level seven minutes after the restart as Gomez headed home, before Elliott Bennett fired Blackburn into the lead with 19 minutes to go.

Substitute Alex Revell appeared to rescue a point for Dons when he converted Josh Murphy’s cross with four minutes to go before Gomez’s wonderful set-piece beat Cody Cropper to ensure all three points for the home side.

The defeat, combined with Rotherham’s unlikely win over Brentford, means Dons are now just three points outside the relegation zone.

After suffering the heartbreak of a late equaliser against Huddersfield Town last Tuesday, Karl Robinson made two changes to the side. Out went goal-scorer Alex Revell, replaced with Nicky Maynard, while Samir Carruthers returned from suspension, taking over from Josh Murphy.

MK Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers (14) scores for MK Dons  during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-162902002

MK Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers (14) scores for MK Dons during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-162902002

With both sides battling at the wrong end of the table, it was a messy opening half hour. While Dons got the ball down, their passing was distinctly lacking in the final third with neither Carruthers or Dean Bowditch able to get involved on the flanks.

Jonny Williams, who shone in the first half against Huddersfield on Tuesday, was Dons’ best attacking outlet, but felt the physical force of Blackburn, intent on bringing him down each time he got on the ball. And it was from one of those free kicks that Dons struck the frame of the frame of the goal, as Jason Steele tipped Jake Forster-Caskey’s effort onto the crossbar.

Blackburn’s struggles of late were clearly playing on the minds of players and fans as the Ewood Park faithful quickly turned on their own, and there was something of an exodus for a half time cup of tea when Dons took the lead on 36 minutes. Winning the ball in his own half, Forster-Caskey played forwards to Bowditch to drive on towards the penalty area. With Maynard to his left, he instead slid in Carruthers on his right, who took a touch before striking low into the bottom corner past Steele.

Having shown a poor touch and radar for goal already in the half, Blackburn striker Chris Brown bore the brunt of the home fans’ abuse when he missed a sitter to deny the Rovers an immediate response. Jordi Gomez was on hand to rifle Danny Graham’s well-played lay-off, forcing Cody Cropper down low to his left to palm it away. Brown was first on the scene to the loose ball but incredibly launched the ball high over the bar from inside the six yard box.

MK Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers (14)  scores for MK Dons  during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-162850002

MK Dons midfielder Samir Carruthers (14) scores for MK Dons during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-162850002

As poor as Blackburn were in the first half, they came out with renewed vigour in the second and were soon level. As Dons failed to deal with a corner, Cropper and Baldock both had to stop efforts on the line before Gomez eventually managed to get his header over the line to draw level seven minutes into the second half.

Robinson blamed nervousness and inexperience for letting points slip away this season, and panic stations set in among the Dons players. All forward momentum was rushed as they desperately tried to regain the lead, but Blackburn had found their feet and were playing with the wind in their sails.

And their pressure finally told with 19 minutes to go when Dons failed to clear another corner, this time letting it drop to Elliott Bennett on the edge of the box, who smashed a left footed strike past Cropper to give Rovers the lead.

The introduction of Josh Murphy, Blackburn’s tormentor in the reverse fixture, began to pay off as the game wore on as he started to get the better of Ben Marshall, and his replacement Adam Henley.

MK Dons midfielder, on loan from Crystal Palace, Jonny Williams (23)  during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-162838002

MK Dons midfielder, on loan from Crystal Palace, Jonny Williams (23) during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Milton Keynes Dons at Ewood Park, Blackburn, England on 27 February 2016. Photo by Simon Davies. PNL-160227-162838002

And he’d turn provider for another substitute in Alex Revell as Dons snatched an equaliser. Crossing low to the near post, Revell got a deft touch to lift the ball past Steele to fire the visitors towards a point.

However, Gomez would have the final say deep into stoppage time. Lining up a free kick on the edge of the box, he bent it brilliantly up and over the wall to beat Cropper for his second of the afternoon, handing Rovers all three points.

Referee: Simon Hooper

Attendance: 12,693 (345)

Blackburn: Steele, Spurr, Hanley, Brown (Jackson 60), Marshall (Henley 77), Graham, Gomez, Duffy, Lenihan, Evans (Grimes 50), Bennett

Subs not used: Raya, Watt, Ward, Conway

MK Dons: Cropper; Baldock, McFadzean, Walsh, Lewington (c); Potter, Forster-Caskey; Bowditch (Hall 80), Williams (Murphy 60), Carruthers; Maynard (Revell 68)

Subs not used: Burns, Spence, Kay, Emmanuel-Thomas

Booked: Bennett, Brown, McFadzean, Lenihan