Plenty of column inches, social media posts and hours down the pub have been spent debating, analysing and at times questioning Tony Mowbray’s team selection.

As the manager regularly points out, there is regularly criticism after a win, and defeats are sometimes exclusively blamed on who played, or often, who didn’t.

In most people’s eyes, Mowbray nailed it in the Brentford win, stuck with it at Stoke City in a rare unchanged XI, but he deserves huge credit for his substitutions, and the timing of them, as Rovers made a hat-trick of wins to end the month.

The last two have come via winning goals full of quality, but matched with enough dogged determination over the 90 minutes to make sure of the victory. 

Rovers had taken 14 points from the last 18 available at Ewood, a stark contrast from their form on the road that had seen them lose five of their last six. Mowbray said it was their away results that would define their season, believing his side will prove tough to beat on their own patch.

They had travelled to West Brom, QPR and Preston and scored twice, but lost. At Birmingham and Leeds they struggled to possess any goal threat. So could they find the right balance on the road?

Mowbray felt the return to fitness of Darragh Lenihan would be key, and so it proved, repelling continuous direct balls aimed in the direction of Sam Vokes. Lenihan, captaining the side for the second game running, won 12 towering headers, two more than defensive partner Tosin Adarabioyo who looks to be settling in to the back four and showing just why Mowbray showed so much faith by making him his sole central defensive summer addition.

Of course Rovers have had enough false starts not to get carried away. They kept four clean sheets in six matches earlier this season, and have collected just one on the road all season, but possessing not one, but two, players able to head away danger makes such a difference.

With Lewis Travis and Corry Evans in front, there is another combination Rovers will hope can provide the necessary protection to the back four, and platform for the front four. 

On the wings, Adam Armstrong and Joe Rothwell got another go, but both, after promising openings, struggled to reach the same intensity as three days earlier and were forced off with knocks. With Rovers back in action so soon after the expanding so much energy against Brentford, the substitutes were always going to be key,

Having gone seven months without a substitute scoring, Mowbray has now seen three score in the last five matches, including two winners. Easier in hindsight, but even at the time, the changes Mowbray made felt the right ones.

At a time when Stoke were the ones sensing victory after getting back level, Rovers came up with their best move of the match to snatch it late on. Ryan Nyambe and Bradley Dack helped free substitute number one, Elliott Bennett, who put it on a plate for sub number two, Sam Gallagher, to sweep home.

That made it three very different wins in a week. The run started with Dack’s double bailing them out against bottom of the league Barnsley despite a below-par showing, was followed by a season’s best performance in seeing off in-form Brentford in a toe-to-toe encounter and a resilient, dogged display at the bet365 Stadium rounded off a fine week.

The first half was oh so comfortable, possibly too much, as Rovers dominated the ball but didn’t make the most of the open spaces on offer. They led courtesy of a fourth goal in three games for Dack, turning home from close range after Lenihan and Adarabioyo had seen efforts blocked.

Stoke were insipid, apathy and anxiety spread around the home fans, something Rovers seized upon. At times it lacked purpose, but they were totally in control.

Stoke raised their level after the break, peppering the box with continued balls forward towards Sam Vokes, but for the most part they were dealt with.  

Tom Ince blasted inches wide from 25 yards, before Christian Walton made a smart stop to keep out a Vokes header. The pressure was beginning to build as Mame Diouf forced another save from the ‘keeper, with Lenihan well placed to clear his follow-up off the line.

From a corner moments later, the equaliser did arrive, Walton seemingly too concerned by the attentions of Scott Hogan in front of him, only to push a right-wing corner against Corry Evans as the ball trickled over the line.

Atmosphere replaced anxiety, and it was very much game on. But credit to Rovers, thereafter Stoke didn’t have a sniff.

Few have predicted that Rovers would end November with 12 points from a possible 15 and back in the top half of the Championship. The top three sides apart, it feels an open division. Having gone in to the international break seven points behind where they were at the same stage last season, within three game they’re one point ahead.

Work lies ahead and they will want to avoid the yo-yo form that we have seen in 2019. Having known this kind of form was within their grasp, it is pleasing to see them deliver it.