doc

ROVERS reporter Rich Sharpe picks out five talking points from the 1-0 win at Scunthorpe United. 

AWAY DAY JOY

THE win made it three on the bounce away from home for Rovers against the sides who had the fifth, third, and second best home records in League One last season.

Bradford had gone 31 home league games without defeat before Rovers became the first side since March 2016 to leave Valley Parade with all three points.

And Rovers ended Scunthorpe’s unbeaten start to the season on Tuesday night, and in the process won for a fourth consecutive league game for the first time since October 2007.

Playing four of their opening six games away from home, against teams who finished in the top 10 last season, has given Rovers a real insight in to life in the third tier.

To come through it with 12 points, as well as three straight clean sheets on the road, make it an impressive start to the campaign, despite the early jitters.

ROVERS’ RESILIENCE

THERE is more than one way to win a football match, as Rovers have proved in their most recent two games.

They overcome a tough first-half to blow Rochdale away with an impressive showing after the break at Spotland to earn a 3-0 win.

Rovers weren’t at their fluid best at Scunthorpe, but owed much to their defensive resilience, aided by some good goalkeeping from David Raya and the return of skipper Charlie Mulgrew, to dig out the victory.

They still however, had three excellent chances, and took one of them, as Marcus Antonsson swept home an Elliott Bennett cross.

If Rovers are to achieve their promotion aim, then points will need to come along by whatever means And they have shown they have a stomach for the fight in this run of four consecutive wins.

SWEDE FINISH

MARCUS Antonsson was just about to be substituted prior to coming up with the only goal of the game.

It was clear from his strike at the weekend at Rochdale, the relief, and burden that lifted for the on-loan Leeds United man as he broke his goal drought.

He’d had few sights of goal at Glanford Park, and wasn’t getting much change out of the Iron’s central defensive pair, before coming up with a neat finish to volley home Bennett’s cross just before the hour.

Antonsson is very much a work in progress.  His hold-up play can appear clumsy at times, but his enthusiasm and attitude mean he’s always showing willing, with his workrate a key reason behind his inclusion.

He will be judged on goals however, so it was particularly pleasing to see him come up with the winner, given much of his work without the ball can go unnoticed.

DACK MAKING A DIFFERENCE

BRADLEY Dack has endured something of a frustrating start to life at Rovers having been forced off with niggling hamstring injuries in the two games in which he has started.

While disappointing on the opening day at Southend, Dack has shown enough in the four appearances since to indicate why Tony Mowbray made such an effort to bring him to Ewood Park.

He may not have come up with the goals, and assists, that will be expected, but his quality on the ball has been seen in some impressive cameos off the bench.

At Rochdale, there were two or three pieces of skill and tight control to get away from his marker that illustrated his quality.

That continued at Scunthorpe when operating from the left of a midfield four.  His ability to carry the ball up the pitch helped relieve the pressure, while he would have claimed an excellent assist for Danny Graham had Matt Gilks not denied the Rovers striker with a fine stop. 

Dack gave Rovers an attacking outlet down the left, and while Mowbray won’t want to push him too hard too soon, the attacker’s undoubted quality will come to the fore moving forward.

REKEEM’S ROLE

THE WEST Brom loanee was brought in for his debut in place of Craig Conway in what was a straight swap on the Rovers left.

Harper’s energy and ability to get up and down the pitch was the reason behind the switch, but much of his time was spent tracking back in a first half that Scunthorpe dominated.

His use of the ball was good, rarely giving possession away, but it was clear that this was an unnatural role for the 17-year-old, more used to playing in the central areas.

In what as a show of faith from Mowbray, he didn’t let anyone down, tracking back diligently, and he would have claimed the glory had he planted his forehead on Bennett’s cross just before the break, rather than glancing an effort wide of the target when unmarked.

His stature is impressive, and his style brings something different to the Rovers midfield, so it is hoped that the groin injury which forced him off at the break won’t keep him sidelined for too long.