This wasn’t your average Rovers Under-23s game. With near to 100 rowdy Hertha Berlin supporters tucked in to a corner close to the Blackburn End it was never going to be.

Rovers were in unchartered waters, coming up against German opposition as they began their first venture in to the Premier League International Cup. Unfortunately, they turned in one of their most disappointing halves of the campaign so far to slip to a 2-0 defeat.

Whether you take the view of the Under-23s games as being about development, auditioning for the first-team, simply fitness, or a combination of all three, there was certainly plenty to take away from the game.

Rovers aren’t without talent in their Academy ranks, with Joe Rankin-Costello certainly knocking on the door of the first-team, his goal threat putting him right in contention, with Dan Butterworth and Jack Vale two attacking prospects who the club hold in high regard.

In defence, Sam Barnes isn’t without admirers, and has been one of the most consistent performers in the Under-23s ranks this season.

The more senior players, in terms of game-time not necessarily age, always attract more scrutiny in these games given that more is expected of them.

Harry Chapman is something of a curious case. He was frustrated a figure all night, his body language not giving the impression of someone busting a gut to break in to the first-team, taking issue with the referee and then an opponent in injury time, as his shove sparked a brawl that threatened to overshadow the game. It was all very unnecessary.

Chapman remains popular with the club’s supporters owing to his dazzling displays off the bench in the early days of Rovers’ League One campaign. Since his return in January, he’s made three substitute appearances for the senior side, and largely been used by the Under-23s.

His output in terms of goals and assists has been impressive at times, his attitude in others less so. Tony Mowbray wants Chapman to understand the seriousness of the game. You can have all the talent in the world, but not applied correctly, it will only make for more frustration.

Jacob Davenport’s sole senior outing remains a promising substitute appearance against Swansea City on the final day of last season, but is yet to fully take charge of a game at this level that you feel he really needs to. He gets about the pitch well, and moves the ball about, but you feel more authority is needed from the 20-year-old.

Dominic Samuel had a goal-laden first spell with the Under-23s on his return from a long-term knee problem, and has been back with Billy Barr’s side for the last two matches after suffering a setback.

He looks lean, strong, and quick, but it’s now two years, albeit he missed 12 months through injury, since his last goal at first-team level, and returning at the same time as Ben Brereton could see him edged out for a spot on the bench. 

So it's nearing decision time with all three as the January window approaches. The issue is leaving pressing with Davenport, given he signed a four year deal when arriving from Manchester City last summer. But Samuel at 25 and heading in to the final six months of his deal, and Chapman now 22 and still with only four senior starts to his name, it feels crunch time for the pair.

Rankin-Costello has so often been a source of creativity and goals for the Under-23s, but had a rare off night against Hertha, while Butterworth, with four goals in four games prior to this, struggled to get in to the game. Rovers were disjointed, and lacked rhythm. 

But they started the brighter and should have led in the six minutes, only for Samuel to miss his kick from inside the six-yard box as Rankin-Costello whipped in a cross from the right.

Play was being broken up a little too easily for the game to develop any sort of flow, but it was Rovers who were doing the much of the pressing.

And opposing goalkeeper Luis Klatte, happy to take chances with the ball at his feet, showed he wasn’t bad with his hands in the 20th minute to palm away a thumping Ben Paton strike.

The visitors’ threat was coming from the link-up between attacking duo Irwein Pfeiffer and Jessic Ngankam, the former thumping an effort in to the side netting in a rare sight of goal in the first half.

Rovers had enjoyed the better of things however, and Klatte made another smart stop moments before the break to smother a Rankin-Costello effort after good work by Davenport.

Hertha weren’t afraid to shoot from distance, with Barnes fortunate to see his swipe at Jonas Dirkner’s shot drift just wide, while Muhammad Kiprit drew a save from Joe Hilton.

As time wore on it was Hertha, beaten in their opening group game by Benfica, who grew the stronger.

Niko Bretschneider fired wide on the half volley before forcing an excellent save out of Hilton, who was at full stretch to tip his effort round the post on the hour mark.

The better movement was being displayed by the visitors and the lively Ngankam broke the offside trap and rounded Hilton, only to inexplicably find the side netting with his finish with the goal gaping.

That huge let off for Rovers came with 17 minutes to play, but it wasn’t long before Hertha got the goal they had threatened. Stefan Mols was robbed of possession, allowing Panzu Ernesto to stride forward and thump an effort beyond the outstretched arm of Hilton.

Shots continued to fly in from range as first Kiprit and then Dirkner firing wide from promising positions.

In desperation, Rovers sent central defender Hayden Carter up front as they went in search of an unlikely equaliser. That only left them short at the back, with Hertha capitalising on that in injury time as substitute Timur Gayret rolled the ball home at the far post following more good work by Ngankam.

It proved to be a disappointing night for Rovers, one leaving Under-23s boss Barr, and his first-team counterpart Mowbray, with plenty to consider.

Rovers: Hilton, Whitehall, Barnes, Carter, Paton, Davenport, Mols (Brennan, 87), Rankin-Costello, Butterworth, Chapman, Samuel

Subs: Evans, Eastham, Boyomo, Pike, Saadi, Burns