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Paul Wheelock column: Bolton defeat can galvanise Rovers
GETTING a beating by Bolton could well be the best thing that could have happened to Rovers going into Sunday’s crucial East Lancashire derby.
As surely it must have refocused minds and served as a timely reminder that if you let your standards slip in the Championship, no matter the opposition, you will get punished.
The display at the Reebok Stadium certainly smacked of a team that had been bitten by the complacency bug. The players knew just how important winning at Reading the week before was and, having achieved their objective, they took their eye off the ball.
How else can you explain a performance that was just so out of character?
But one bad performance should not overshadow the good that came before it and the praise this column showered on Rovers last week still stands – this is a spirited side prepared to fight for the blue and white halved shirt.
It was just on Saturday, inexcusably, they did not show it.
Now if they fail to show it against the Clarets, too, then they can kiss goodbye to the club’s proud unbeaten record against their rivals.
But something tells me that will not be the case and come 2.30pm on Sunday the record will still be intact.
Logic suggests that this is Burnley’s best chance to put one over Rovers for the first time since 1979.
Even the most biased Rovers supporter would have to admit that Sean Dyche’s side, five points clear of third-placed Derby and unbeaten in the league this year, are having a superb season.
But on Sunday they will be encountering a wounded team desperate to show their supporters that what happened at Bolton was a one off.
Throw in the fact the psychological edge Rovers undoubtedly possess – 35 years without a win in a derby weighs heavily – and all of a sudden that same logic that suggests the Clarets will end the hoodoo and continue their relentless march toward promotion does not look so sane.
Beating Burnley may not stop them from finishing in the top two.
But what it would definitely do is put Rovers’ play-off push back on track and banish the memories of a chastising afternoon at the Reebok.
Roll on Sunday.
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