Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out three talking points from the home defeat to Luton.


Rovers went in to the game on the back of three successive clean sheets at Ewood, registering seven points in the process, and having responded well to the opening day defeat to Charlton.

Their run of shut-outs came to end as James Collins headed the visitors ahead in the 17th minute, before Matty Pearson rose highest to power a right wing free-kick out of Christian Walton’s reach just before the hour mark to seal the victory.

That meant Luton became the sixth team to win at Ewood in 2019. Indeed, that is now six defeats in 13 games since Rovers notched up three successive victories in January.

Not since January 1 and a 2-1 victory over West Brom have Rovers conceded at Ewood Park and won.

Any top six push will likely be built on strong home form, and this is undoubtedly an area where Rovers can improve.

In their Championship campaigns since relegation from the Premier League they have managed 10, 8, 8, 11, 11 and 10 wins respectively, and must chalk up a higher number of points infront of their own fans if they are to challenge this time around.


Rovers have now gone 58 matches since wining after conceding the first goal. In that time they have conceded the first goal 25 times, going on to rescue a point in six, losing 19.

When Lewis Travis hauled Rovers level eight minutes before the break, it felt like the perfect platform from which to build. But they found themselves trailing again just before the hour mark struggled to find a response.

While late goals conceded blighted Rovers last season, it has been some time since they rescued a game, or indeed grabbed all three points, courtesy of their own late show (85 minutes or later).

Joe Nuttall and Adam Armstrong netted in the final five minutes of the win at Millwall in January, while Bradley Dack scored from the spot with three minutes to play against QPR in November. But those are the sole occasions since Adam Armstrong scored in the 87th minute to snatch a win at Portsmouth in February 2018.

After Dack’s disallowed goal, there were 12 minutes to play, plus six added on, but rarely did Rovers even threaten an equaliser.


It felt like a game Joe Rothwell would have thrived in, something conceded by Tony Mowbray post-match.

Rothwell was due to start at Reading seven days earlier, only to be withdrawn hours before kick-off with illness which again saw him miss out against Luton.

His ability to beat an opposition defender, or thread a pass through a congested area of the pitch, may well have been the bit of artistry Rovers required to break down a rigid backline.

There was plenty of creativity quality on the pitch, with Holtby, Downing and Dack all finishing the game, but with Armstrong not at his best, there wasn’t anyone able to commit an opposition defender, making it all to easy for Luton to defend the width of their 18-yard box.



Lewis Travis added his name to the list of players to score for Rovers this season, with his first at Ewood and second of his career.

He joins Bradley Johnson in finding the target this season and the central midfield pair, who have started seven of the nine games as a partnership, have the same number of goals as the combined tally of the three players (Armstrong, Gallagher and Graham) who have started up front so far.

Travis joined Johnson, Graham, Williams (2), Dack, Armstrong and an own goal as finding the back of the net for Rovers.

Ten goals in nine league goals isn’t the return you’d expect from a forward line that includes so much quality and options.

Sam Gallagher put in arguably his poorest display since joining, failing to build on his showing at Reading last weekend that was among his best.

Graham looked a threat after coming on and with just two starts, both at Ewood, and Mowbray said he was ‘kicking his heels’ at waiting for an opportunity. That might not be long in the waiting.