Blackburn Rovers vs Reading. Sky Bet Championship.
Saturday 7 May 2016 16:19, UK
Paul Lambert was given a winning send-off as Blackburn beat Reading 3-1 in their final game of the Sky Bet Championship campaign.
The Rovers manager activated a release clause to bring his short tenure to an end but his team still gave everything for him and Elliott Bennett's eighth-minute volley and Danny Graham's controlled effort six minutes later set the hosts on their way.
Yann Kermorgant's third of the campaign - an unstoppable free-kick - gave the visitors a lifeline but a quiet second half was ended perfectly for Lambert's men as Simeon Jackson tapped in a third.
Blackburn end the season with a second consecutive win - against the team that inflicted the first defeat of Lambert's tenure.
Both sides will be glad to see the back of an underwhelming season, especially Reading who have ended it with a sixth defeat in their last seven outings.
Lambert named an unchanged side for his final game, while Brian McDermott handed teenager Josh Barrett his first Reading start in the only change from last weekend's defeat to Preston.
Rovers took an early lead when Matt Kilgallon's left-wing cross was deftly controlled by Bennett who swivelled and rifled a left-foot volley into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Blackburn's dominance continued and the lead was doubled in the 14th minute. Kilgallon again was the architect as he launched a pinpoint diagonal that Graham dispatched with a superb controlled volley from 10 yards - his seventh goal of a productive loan spell.
Aguero? Ozil? De Bruyne? Pick your Fantasy Six-a-Side team for the chance to win £10,000
Flicks and tricks were on display as Blackburn discovered a swagger and a third goal almost came when a corner fell to Darragh Lenihan who was denied brilliantly at point-blank range by Ali Al-Habsi.
Lenihan then fashioned space before blazing over as Blackburn threatened to run riot but the Royals gave themselves a lifeline in the 31st minute. Kermorgant lined up a 25-yard free-kick, which was powerfully curled beyond Jason Steele and was adjudged to have bounced over the line after hitting the underside of the crossbar.
The second half did not produce much in the way of chances early on but was noticeable for large sections of the ground voicing their displeasure at the Venky's ownership.
Graham was almost given an easy second courtesy of a poor Al-Habsi touch, but the goalkeeper recovered.
It did not matter though as Blackburn secured the points four minutes from time when Player of the Year Grant Hanley headed a Jordi Gomez corner into the path of Jackson who had a simple tap-in.