Reading's season came to a close with defeat at Ewood Park this afternoon; a stunning first half free kick from Yann Kermorgant wasn't enough to prevent a 3-1 loss as the curtain came down on a disappointing league campaign.
Rovers took the lead through a very well-taken finish from Elliott Bennett and doubled their lead when Danny Graham sidefooted a first time volley home, but Yann Kermorgant thundered a spectacular set piece in off the stanchion to get the Royals back into the game before the break. But Grant Hanley made it 3-1 with a close range finish near the end and Rovers took the spoils.
17-year-old Josh Barrett made his full professional debut at Ewood Park this afternoon, starting for Brian McDermott's men in the final game of the 2015-16 season, while 20-year-old centre-back Rob Dickie was involved in the first team squad for the first time in his career. A fit again Hal Robson-Kanu joined Dickie tarting on the bench as two of seven Academy graduates involved in the 18.
The first shot at goal came after five minutes when a slip from Stephen Quinn allowed Ben Marshall to scurry forward and arrow an effort on target that was easily blocked by the body of Paul McShane. Good work from Williams and Kermorgant almost unlocked the Rovers defence at the other end.
But Blackburn took the lead with a fine finish from Elliott Bennett minutes later. A ball into the box from the left was controlled by Bennett and then very well struck, volleying on the turn to arrow across the body of Ali Al Habsi and into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Bennett was causing problems again down the right, beating Cooper to the ball to cross low into the area where McShane was well position to cut it out and put it behind for a corner.
However, it was 2-0 soon after. A ball over the top from the left floated over Cooper found Graham running in behind the back line and he steered a first time volley wide of the dive from Al Habsi and into the back of the net.
Marshall fizzed a free kick over via a deflection off the Reading wall, then Lenihan lashed over from the edge of the box as a dominant Blackburn pressed for another.
But Reading found a route back into it via a quite spectacular free kick from Yann Kermorgant. Rakels was bundled over 20 yards out and referee Andrew Madley awarded a free kick. Norwood and Kermorgant stood over it, but the Frenchman struck it to perfection, sweeping the ball over the Rovers wall and in off the stanchion, the ball bouncing over the line and the assistant referee confirming it as a goal with a wave of his flag.
A left-footed cross from Gunter was cut out just before it could find Rakels in the middle, then with half-time approaching the offside flag scuppered Rakels as he scampered onto a threaded ball in behind the Blackburn back line.
Williams scuttled forward to pull the trigger on a shot 22 yards out in injury time at the end of the opening period, but Jason Steele calmly gathered the ball in to preserve the hosts' lead going in at the break.
Half time: Blackburn 2-1 Reading
Two changes at the break saw young defender Rob Dickie make his Football League debut, coming on for Barrett while Hal Robson-Kanu was brought on for Kermorgant up front. Garath McCleary moves into midfield with Dickie slotting in at right-back.
Six minutes into the second half and a Ben Marshall free kick almost found Shane Duffy in the middle but the Royals scrapped clear courtesy of a well-timed tackle from Norwood inside the box.
An overlapping Dickie found himself in the opposition area soon after, striding onto a McCleary ball but his low cut back was cut out and cleared before Reading could threaten an equaliser.
Cooper did well to hamper Graham's shooting opportunity just after the hour mark and Al Habsi prevented the corner, then Dickie held off the attack of Grimes down the left and blocked the cross into the box.
Graham nearly capitalised on a loose touch from Al Habsi following McShane's back pass, but the Omani recovered well to clear the danger with 20 minutes remaining.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Rakels fizzed a low cross across the six yard box and Williams' lunge at the far post almost got the touch it needed to turn it home from close range. But the Royals were running out of time.
Robson-Kanu won a free kick near the left corner of the Rovers box, but Norwood's inswinger was untidily headed clear. Then Gunter got in behind down the left but the offside flag meant his low cross looking for Rakels wouldn't count for anything.
And Rovers put the result beyond doubt with a third when a deep inswinging corner was bundled over the line from close range by Grant Hanley.
Robson-Kanu had the ball in the back of the net but was denied a goal as the referee awarded a foul as the substitute wrestled past his man illegally before firing home. And McCleary was thwarted by the same flag as Steele pulled off a good save from the winger's low injury time drive. The final whistle sounded on a disappointing end to a frustrating season.
Full time: Blackburn 3-1 Reading
Blackburn: Steele, Duffy, Hanley (c), Kilgallon, Marshall (Evans 57), Lenihan, Lowe, Grimes (Conway 74), J Gomez, Bennett (Jackson 68), Graham.
Subs: Raya, Henley, Ward, Williamson.
Reading: Al-Habsi, McCleary, Gunter, Cooper, McShane (c), Norwood, Quinn (Evans 87), Williams, Barrett (Dickie HT), Kermorgant (Robson-Kanu HT), Rakels.
Subs: Bond, Watson, Kuhl, Stacey.
Att: 13,140 (446 away)