THERE is only so far a 41-goal forward line can take you if you cannot defend leads.

Just one strike partnership, Watford’s Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, have scored more times in English professional league football than Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes this season.


But whereas the Hornets sealed promotion to the Premier League on Saturday, Rovers served up another reminder of why they are remaining in the Championship.

Gestede and Rhodes are not perfect.

There have been times in this most frustrating of campaigns when they have under-performed just like the majority of their Rovers team-mates.

And there have been times when they been guilty of missing gilt-edged opportunities, just as Rhodes was here.

But fundamentally they have done their jobs, as one swift glance at their impressive goals tally would testify.

Instead it is Rovers’ inability to keep the ball out of the net at the other end of the field that means they will finish the season ninth and at least 10 points from the play-off positions.

And, while they have the chance to end the campaign strongly and unbeaten in seven games, that is the only statistic that really matters.

The gap to the top six would be nowhere near as big had Rovers not thrown away a never-ending amount of advantages.

After a quickfire double strike from the prolific Gestede and Rhodes here, this was the 11th time this season they have failed to take three points after going in front.

But there were mitigating circumstances for their latest collapse and it is unfair to point the finger of blame at the defence alone, particularly one as makeshift as the one Rovers boss Gary Bowyer was forced to select here.

In fact stand-in centre-backs Tommy Spurr and Darragh Lenihan were among Rovers’ better performers in what was an entertaining Roses clash.

The way impressive full debutant Lenihan raced out to close down – albeit unsuccessfully – Joe Lolley’s late leveller summed up Rovers’ desire not to let another lead slip.

But let it slip they did and Bowyer has to find a way of solving the problem that has blighted his side for too long now.

Worryingly, though, it may not be the biggest problem he will face come the end of the campaign.

Gestede’s comments before the match that he wants to play in the Premier League next season may have been truthful.

And, as Bowyer said himself, there is nothing wrong with a player showing ambition.

But Gestede’s words were not something that Rovers fans wanted to see splashed all over a national newspaper.

In fairness, the targetman also did his talking on the pitch, with his 21st goal of the campaign breaking the deadlock in the 27th minute.

Rhodes was the creator, showing skill and strength to set up his strike partner, and four minutes later Rovers’ captain for the day turned scorer, showing smart movement to head home a Craig Conway corner.

It was Rhodes’ 20th goal of the season and his fifth in his last three visits to the club where he forged his fearsome reputation.

It should have been enough to set Rovers on their way to a second successive success.

But Huddersfield had shown before they fell behind that they posed a threat, with Simon Eastwood saving from Mark Hudson and Conor Coady hitting the post with a cross-shot that deceived the recalled goalkeeper.

It did not come as too much of a surprise, then, when the Terriers halved the deficit in the 39th minute through a brilliant Jacob Butterfield free kick that he curled over the wall and in off the bar.

Whether it was a free kick was another matter, though, with Spurr harshly adjudged to have bundled over Ishmael Miller.

The 84th-minute equaliser was also contentious as Lee Williamson appeared to be fouled before Lolley lashed home from 22 yards.

But it was hard to argue that Huddersfield did not deserve a share of the spoils, not when they had two further goals ruled out for offside and not when Eastwood, who had a mixed afternoon on his return to his old club, also denied Nahki Wells.

That said Rovers did have chances to put the match to bed, the best of which fell to Rhodes.

But he blasted one shot into the side-netting and saw another incredibly cleared off the line by Oscar Gobern after Alex Smithies had saved from substitute Josh King.