Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Aston Villa Player Ratings: Majestic Mulgrew

What a job Mogga has done at Ewood Park! –

Conor Hourihane’s injury-time free-kick meant an even game between Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa rightly ended in a 1-1 draw. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Blackburn Rovers

David Raya – the goalkeeper, who performed well in League One last season, was not overworked – his second half saves from Jedinak and Abraham were simple ones – but could not have done an awful lot about Hourihane’s injury-time free-kick. 6

Ryan Nyambe – the academy graduate went into the season with a little bit of work to do to convince some fans that he can be a strong performer at this level, but the energetic right-back has so far adjusted well and he did not look out of place here. 6
Charlie Mulgrew – the former Celtic man is wonderfully gifted in possession and that was reflected in not only his distribution, but also in his crosses and set pieces, one of the latter would have set up the opener but for a dubious offside flag. There cannot be too many more centre-backs in England who contribute going forward in so many different ways. 8
Darragh Lenihan – defended well early on and headed wide at the back-post from a free-kick just after the quarter-hour mark. Having started out as a tough-tackling midfielder, he has certainly applied that aggression as a centre-back. 7
Amari Bell – the left-back wasn’t quite given the attacking licence he likes in the first hour, but got it once Williams came on to allow him to move to wing-back, winning a corner within seconds of the switch and helping his side apply pressure. 6

Corry Evans – put in one or two smartly-timed challenges in the first half and negated Grealish’s threat effectively; his contribution was not eye-catching, but useful nonetheless. 6
Richie Smallwood – the midfielder, a major part of Blackburn’s promotion campaign, was very quick to second balls and did the simple things well. That said, he was lucky not to concede a penalty just before the half-hour mark for a foul on McGinn. 7
Elliott Bennett – the utility man slotted in on the right-side of midfield; although not as exciting as Armstrong on the other side, he did just as an important job tucking in to help Smallwood and Evans, occasionally forcing Taylor back with his selfless runs. 6
Bradley Dack – caused problems with his deliveries and nearly made a key contribution by getting on the end of one from Mulgrew; his header from a free-kick though was dubiously ruled offside. The attacking midfielder had perhaps a tougher second half but got his goal eventually by turning home Graham’s effort late on. Rovers fans were delighted to see Dack back available and this match showed why. 8

Adam Armstrong – the forward has shown plenty of quality at this level and there were moments when he struck fear into Hutton down the left. Equally though, his reaction to losing the ball was perhaps a tad questionable on one or two occasions before he was taken off in the second period. 5
Danny Graham – a relatively quiet afternoon overall, but the striker came up trumps at a key moment, patiently working the angle for his 77th-minute shot that Dack turned home. 6

Ben Brereton (on 58) – offered good movement when he came off the bench and helped Graham occupy centre-backs. 7
Harrison Reed (on 67) – the midfielder combined energy with a velvet touch which contributed to the goal, but he also gave away the free-kick that led to the equalizer and fired over from the 18-yard-line in the dying moments. 6
Derrick Williams (on 73) – the switch to a back-three helped Rovers and Williams slotted nicely into the defence, showing intelligence in possession. 7

Aston Villa

Orjan Nyland – arguably his best save came from his own player, Tuanzebe inside the quarter-hour. Comfortably held Mulgrew’s free-kick just after the half-hour mark, although he spilt another one from the Scot later on to perhaps highlight his propensity for a clanger. Couldn’t have done much about Dack’s goal though. 6

Alan Hutton – didn’t look comfortable up against Armstrong early on, nor did he offer the pace and drive in the opposing half to create space for Elmohamady to deliver as, perhaps, the now loaned out Ritchie De Laet might have done. His desire could not be questioned but Villa need more from their right-back. 4
Axel Tuanzebe – endured a mixed period early on, when he turned behind an awkward cross behind, but after the resultant corner he headed Mulgrew’s cross towards his own goal, his blushes spared only by Nyland. The centre-back can do some of the eye-catching, last-ditch defending well yet equally, there is a lack of maturity about his game which could be problematic in John Terry’s absence. 5
James Chester – the Welshman looked more like his 2017-18 self here, showing the composure in tight areas that he became renowned for last term. After an uncharacteristically poor start, this performance gives the ex-Hull man something to build on. 8
Neil Taylor – in the first half, he always treated the ball like a hot potato, passing backwards quickly rather than trying to do something positive with it. In the second half though not only did he pick up better positions, he also showed more positivity with the ball; without being able to attack on the outside, he took the initiative to cut inside for a shot on one occasion. 6

Ahmed Elmohamady – played on the right-wing, there were times when Elmohamady was almost too far up the pitch. He’s not going to offer any thrust in the final third and might have been better suited to a deeper role that allows him to swing in crosses from deep. Defended well but needs to be used better. 5
Mile Jedinak – the type of player who sometimes misses with his initial challenge but his persistence allows him to make up ground; this performance showed that characteristic is best served not at his previous position of centre-back but in midfield, where he has the insurance of defenders behind him to reduce the risk of an initial error being costly. 6
John McGinn – started the game well by showing class in possession, even if there wasn’t always the number of bodies in the box for him to launch one of his usual deliveries. Unlucky not to win a penalty though just before the half-hour mark and looked bright for spells of the second period, even if he wasn’t a constant influence on proceedings. 7
Albert Adomah – always looked to get to the back-post from Elmohamady’s crosses and hug the touchline; sometimes this can give Villa width yet equally it left them short of men in the box. Covered Taylor well when asked to. 5

Jack Grealish – the playmaker has been key to Villa’s attacking play over the last six months and that was the case once again here, especially in the second half, when he managed to link up with the striker and find gaps in behind Blackburn’s midfield. He needs to be in those areas rather than his own half, especially considering the midfielders behind him don’t get into the box much. 6
Tammy Abraham – it is vital in a Steve Bruce system that the main striker relishes physical duels and Abraham looks a good signing in that regard, especially in the second half when the midfield got closer to him. Had a couple of chances in the second period that he might have done better with. 6

Jonathan Kodjia (on 69) – showed that he can give Abraham the necessary support if Bruce is happy to play the two together, although any permanent switch would create conundrums in other areas. 7
Conor Hourihane (on 77) – the Irishman has always had the ability to make defining contributions to games and that showed again with a wonderful injury-time free-kick that saw Villa take a point. 9
Yannick Bolasie (on 77) – made some threatening runs down the right channel and already looks potentially an asset at this level. 7