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Blackburn win for departing manager Tony Mowbray as Birmingham fans protest

Blackburn seal winning finale for Tony Mowbray (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Blackburn seal winning finale for Tony Mowbray (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Blackburn turned on the style for departing manager Tony Mowbray as he signed off with a 2-1 win against Birmingham at St. Andrew’s before a mass pitch invasion by home supporters at full-time chanting for the removal of the board.

Goal of the season contenders from John Buckley and Ben Brereton Diaz put Rovers comfortably in charge by half-time as Mowbray, 58, prepares to bow out after five years and 267 games in the Ewood Park hotseat.

Kristian Pedersen pulled one back late on but it was not enough to deny Blackburn’s 10th away success of the season.

Despite the efforts of stewards and police, thousands of Birmingham fans swarmed onto the pitch at the final whistle, and gathered in front of the Kop Stand to protest at the unpopular owners Birmingham Sports Holdings.

The win saw the visitors secure their highest finish in the Sky Bet Championship of eighth under the former Celtic, West Brom and Middlesbrough manager.

Birmingham’s 10th home defeat of the season left them in 20th spot amid talk of a takeover of the club by City supporter Paul Richardson and former Barcelona player Maxi Lopez.

Blackburn made the better start and created two early chances after Birmingham prospect Jordan James fired straight at goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.

Former Birmingham loan striker Sam Gallagher sent a volley on the turn straight at goalkeeper Neil Etheridge from Harry Pickering’s pass.

Then Brereton Diaz, playing almost certainly his last game for Rovers as clubs look set to battle for his signature this summer, glanced well wide from Ryan Hedges’s cross.

Rovers forced the first save, in the 22nd minute. The lively Hedges cut in from the right onto his favoured left foot and his fiercely-hit low drive was pushed away by Etheridge.

Rovers took a deserved lead in the 29th minute with a superb goal started and finished by Buckley.

The 22-year-old midfielder, on his 99th appearance for the club, turned Ivan Sunjic just outside his own area before spreading play to Brereton Diaz, who found Hedges to tee up Buckley for a rising 25-yard drive that thundered into the top corner of the net.

Hedges should have made it 2-0 after Gallagher’s clever pass, but he blazed over with only Etheridge to beat.

Birmingham’s best effort of the half came in the 41st minute when Juninho Bacuna drilled well wide from Onel Hernandez’s pull back.

But Rovers deservedly doubled their lead in the 45th minute.

Brereton Diaz picked up a short pass from Pickering and, from just outside the left corner of the box, unleashed a tremendous curling shot into the far corner of the net for his 22nd goal of the season.

Birmingham improved after the break and Lyle Taylor’s header was tipped onto the post by Kaminski from Tahith Chong’s corner.

But Rovers continued to carve out more chances, forcing Etheridge into two more saves.

Brereton Diaz forced a diving save with a low curling shot from the edge of the box before Hedges’s dinked effort was blocked.

Pedersen, playing his last game for the club, reduced the arrears in the 78th minute.

The Danish left-back exchanged passes with James and beat two players before sliding a shot past Kaminski.

Etheridge again denied Rovers when he blocked a shot from clean-through substitute Dilan Markanday.

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