THE current staggered schedules of the three sides chasing promotion to the Championship is only adding to the intrigue and unique nature of this three way fight.

After Rovers and third-placed Shrewsbury Town traded 0-0 draws on Tuesday and Thursday night respectively, there was the chance once against for Tony Mowbray’s men to extend their cushion to seven points on their first ever visit to the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

That looked to be the case as the game headed in to a fourth minute of injury time with their lead at 1-0 courtesy of goal number 13 of the season from Charlie Mulgrew. A club record 13th away victory of the season and top spot were within touching distance, that until a late sting in the tail.

Referee Kevin Johnson would have had the whistle to his lips as Danny Graham looked to have headed clear the danger from a late long throw only for Chris Lines to have other ideas.

The midfielder will have hit fewer sweeter volleys than his 94th minute effort from the dropping ball.

There was a nervous wait from those in black and red when it left his foot, then despair as they slumped to the floor having seen it nestle in the bottom corner.

The promotion picture will become clearer in the next week or so.By 5pm on Saturday they will have all played the same number of games. On Tuesday, April 24 they will all be in action for the first time since March 10.

 Before that, the eyes of Shrewsbury, without a game on the weekend, and leaders Wigan will be on Ewood Park on Thursday when Rovers host Peterborough United.

It will be Rovers’ turn to take a watching brief on Tuesday and then Saturday when the other duo in this battle to the finish promotion race.

Rovers controlled proceedings for large parts on a particularly heavy surface.

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to Bradley Dack. He, like most in the ground expected Graham to shoot when the ball fell kindly to him in the box. Instead he opted to cross, with Dack turning over from six yards out.

Mulgrew drew a save out of Slocombe with a sixth minute free-kick, while just before the break only excellent covering from Tom Lockyer denied Dack a free shot at goal after running on to a Graham knockdown.

Ellis Harrison at the head of the hosts attack was offered little support, but took advantage of a rare Darragh Lenihan slip in the 45th minute. Corry Evans did well to halt his initial dart towards goal before the forward shot tamely at David Raya.

There was nothing tame about his volley 10 minutes after the re-start when he met a Kyle Bennett cross, but the Spaniard was well place to keep out his effort.

The hour mark wasn’t even reached before Mowbray had made his three substitutions, and by the midway point of the second half Rovers led. Richie Smallwood was felled by Tom Broadbent, who escaped a second yellow card, allowing Mulgrew to calmly dispose of the spot-kick.

A game changing moment came shortly afterwards as somehow when a left wing Adam Armstrong cross fount its way to him, Derrick Williams glanced wide from two yards out with the goal at his mercy.

The hosts then threw caution to the wind. Nerves were building in the Rovers backline, Raya forced to save from a Paul Downing miscue, while a mix-up between the Spaniard and Mulgrew saw Downing come to the rescue.

Cruelly in injury time Lines denied them top spot and that seven point cushion. Ten points from their final four games is needed to guarantee promotion, though don’t bet against more nervy moments involving all three sides.