In an ideal world Rovers would have preferred Bradley Dack to have the night off.

But how glad they were to have their talisman on the bench as he scored one and created a 96th minute winner for Joe Rothwell, two minutes after Stewart Downing looked to have sent the game to penalties.

It was a crazy end to the game as Oldham thought they had snatched a shock victory, one which would have ramped the pressure up on Rovers, with just 10 minutes to go.

They had led for over an hour, after Gevano Nepomuceno opened the scoring, before the game turned on Dack’s introduction.

Eleven changes, a new captain in Danny Graham, and a debut for Greg Cunningham were the headlines from a Rovers team which saw six players who started at Fulham given the night off.

Rovers had put nine goals past League Two opposition in the early rounds of this competition last season, as well as beating Mansfield in pre-season, but the early signs were that it would be death by 1,000 passes.

Oldham, having lost their opening league matches like Rovers, made five alterations but looked much quicker out of the blocks.

Christopher Missilou sounded an early warning, blasting over from the left edge of the box, the same fate for Cunningham’s shot from a Stewart Downing cross moments later.

Richie Smallwood and Corry Evans were seeing plenty of the ball, but were guilty of being caught too far up the field as Oldham took a shock lead in the 14th minute.

Gevaro Nepomuceno had the freedom of the Rovers half to drive in to and his shot had enough power across Jayson Leutwiler to nestle in the far corner.

The first signs of groans from the home crowd began to arrive as a distinct lack of intent was on show, with Graham and Brereton becoming increasingly isolated.

Brereton was playing in his preferred central striking role, alongside Graham, but didn’t show the conviction in front of goal that was needed to draw his side level.

Finally he and Graham linked up to put the 20-year-old in the clear, but a poor first touch gave Alex Iacovitti all the invitation he needed to put a stop to a potential 40 yard dash towards goal.

And the attacker then couldn’t sort his feet out to turn in a dangerous Downing cross, though the ball did fall kindly to Evans, only for his long wait for a goal to go on as his shot was blocked on the line.

The chances continued to fall to Brereton but a header from a Cunningham cross glanced off his head and bounced wide with Gary Woods able to watch it wide.

Oldham were by far from under the pump though, or sitting back, springing defence in to attack at every given opportunity, with left winger Nepomuceno causing Ryan Nyambe no shortage of problems.

Mowbray turned to his bench eight minutes after the re-start, sending on Joe Rothwell, as Rovers began to gain a semblance of forward momentum.

The wait for a clear-cut chance went on however, despite the number of balls being fired across the area.

Mowbray’s intentions were clear as Harry Chapman replaced central defender Matty Platt while Bradley Dack was the third and final change.

The pair linked up to good effect moments later which should have brought an equaliser. Chapman’s backheel was followed by a Dack dink and somehow Brereton couldn’t squeeze the ball over the line, with a covering defender, and the post, coming to Oldham’s rescue.

Dack eased some of the nerves with 20 minutes to go with an equaliser which owed much to the nuisance factor of Graham. He held off his marker from Grayson’s ball forward, and when the ball fell to Dack eight yards out, he was never missing.

It was Graham’s turn to go close shortly afterwards, only for Woods to hold on to his low shot after good hold-up play initially.

Rovers did think, with 17 minutes to go, they had taken the lead when Rothwell’s free-kick was put in to his own net by a defender, only for Dack to be flagged offside after a long chat between referee and linesman.

There was no such discussions to be had when Oldham re-took the lead with 10 minutes to go however, as captain Mohamed Maouche was given the chance to curl home from 12 yards after Grayson was unable to fully clear a left-wing cross.

Dack was unsurprisingly Rovers’ best hope of an equaliser, and he drew a fine save from Woods after a neat reverse pass from Chapman.

But no-one inside Ewood could believe he missed a golden chance, unmarked from 10 yards, after a Graham knockdown, as it rolled wide with the goal gaping.

There was a late sting in the tale though, as in injury time, Downing lashed it home from 25 yards.

And then Dack had the presence of mind to set up Rothwell for a tap-in and cue bedlam in the stands.