Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out five talking points from the FA Cup tie with Crewe Alexandra.


After a match-winning contribution off the bench in his last Rovers outing, Dominic Samuel was given the chance to shine from the start against Crewe.

And his man-of-the-match award this time should have been celebrated with him having put Rovers safely into round three of the FA Cup.

He terrorised the Crewe defence in the first half, scoring two excellently taken goals to take his tally to eight for the season, as well as playing a neat reverse pass for Danny Graham to get on the scoresheet.

His role changed after the two red cards. He was left to plough a lone furrow but should take great credit for the way he persevered and worked the channels to try and offer Rovers an option when they did win possession.

The striker is looking back to his best and he did his claims for a recall in the league no harm. And the contribution of Danny Graham shows that using the two strikers as a pair might not be a bad option moving forward.


Referee David Webb and his assistants certainly had a huge say on proceedings.

The decisions to send off Rekeem Harper and Elliott Bennett while failing to dismiss Crewe defender Brad Walker were among a number of contentious decisions.

The penalty award that brought Crewe their first was about right, though Tony Mowbray described the brandishing of the red card to Harper as ‘baffling’, while opposite number Dave Artell also felt the decision was harsh.

Walker, carded early on for a foul on Samuel, should have been booked again when he clattered into the Rovers striker just before half-time, but was let off the hook and promptly replaced.

Bennett’s red card appeared harsh and was issued on the advice of the assistant closest to the incident with replays offering no real conclusion as to what went on.

However, the referee could have taken charge of the situation before it reached any possible boiling point by halting play for a dropped ball after Crewe defender Perry Ng, who committed host of misdemeanours throughout, had the ball trapped between his legs.

The officials battled, but failed, to keep a lid on things.


While always difficult with nine men, and not helped by the referee, all three goals which Rovers shipped were avoidable.

Harper was caught on the ball for the penalty while two identical set plays in the space of two minutes turned the game on its head.

That will be a huge frustration to Mowbray who wanted to see his play higher up the pitch despite their numerical disadvantage.

Only after being pegged back at 3-3 did they show any real signs of trying to pin the visitors back and relieve the pressure on the backline.

But they contributed to their downfall with each of the goals conceded.


Rekeem Harper has had to bide his time since agreeing a season-long loan spell at Rovers in August and that wait is likely to increase after his lapse in concentration gave Crewe a route back in to the tie.

He is at Rovers to learn and develop his game, but with plenty at stake for Rovers this season, Tony Mowbray knows that can’t come at the expense of the team.

So after a bright opening half an hour in which he showed what qualities he has, a lapse in concentration saw him give away the penalty and subsequently be sent off.

Trying to force his way in the starting XI is difficult with three experienced players ahead of him in his position, but his attributes mean he does offer a different option to the manager.

But Mowbray has to be able to trust the teenager before handing him more opportunities and Harper still has some way to go on that front.


The previous cup tie between these sides brought seven goals and needed extra-time to settle it.

So after a six goal thriller at Ewood it will take a replay this time around to decide who makes it through in to round three.

Crewe of course, were the last side to dump Rovers out of the FA Cup before round three 45 years ago.

And they may well feel it was an opportunity missed as they tried to push on for a winner after bringing it back to 3-3 with 25 minutes remaining.

So there should be no betting against another cracker at Gresty Road on Tuesday week.