27. 9. 20. 17. 30. 12... No they’re not this weekend’s winning lottery numbers but the amount of shots Rovers have had in each of their last six matches.

Now I know the old saying goes, if you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win the raffle, but from a total of 115 efforts, you would have expected a better return than five goals.


No wonder, then, that Gary Bowyer, speaking after Tuesday’s welcome if unnecessarily hard-fought win over Birmingham, stressed the need for his side to regain their ruthlessness in front of goal.

That has to be the focus going into a run of games before the next international break that, although appearing tough on paper, offer Rovers a real opportunity to continue their mini upturn.

And I say that because they are now looking a much better proposition at the back.

If Rovers’ profligacy is a cause for concern than their improvement in defence, and the hard work they have been putting in on the training ground to achieve it, is worthy of praise.

It is three clean sheets in six matches now and Bowyer faces a genuine defensive dilemma if skipper Grant Hanley returns from injury for Saturday’s trip to a free-scoring but faltering Nottingham Forest side.

As captain you would expect Hanley to go straight back into the team.

But Shane Duffy – that horrible night at Rotherham aside and, to be fair, he was certainly not the only one – has hardly put a foot wrong since his transfer deadline day arrival.

And can you remember Alex Baptiste, who like Duffy is looking like another shrewd Bowyer signing, having a bad game at centre back for Rovers since his summer switch? Because I can’t.

So, with the boost of also having Matt Kilgallon back from his ban, perhaps it would be wise to give Hanley, who does not miss matches lightly, another week to recover.

Credit must also go to the performances produced by Corry Evans, and in particular, Lee Williamson, in shielding the back four in the Birmingham victory and Ipswich draw.

But as good as Williamson was in both games there was no way he was going to grab the headlines off Ben Marshall.

Here’s hoping the confidence Marshall is currently playing with rubs off on some of his attacking colleagues, because if it does, there are points to be taken from these four matches.

Going into this weekend’s round of Championship fixtures Forest are without a win in six, drawing five and losing one, as are Reading, drawing two and losing four.

Millwall, meanwhile, are without a win in eight, drawing four and losing four, and Brighton are without a win in nine, drawing six and losing three.

Rovers are not in sparkling form themselves, but if they can rediscover their shooting boots and start to take more of the numerous chances they are creating, then the table could look a whole lot rosier come two weeks’ time.