Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out four talking points after the win over QPR.


Tony Mowbray has gone on record that the central defensive partnership of Darragh Lenihan and Tosin Adarabioyo is good enough to help Rovers in to the top six. The stats would suggest he’s right.

In the 12 games they have been paired together, Rovers have taken 26 points and have lost just twice. And their strengths compliment each other well.

Lenihan brings brute force, a desire and willingness to go and attack the ball, as shown in the opposition box as he powered home his second goal in two games. Their distances, the QPR equaliser apart, were very good, both repelling several left wing crosses in the second half.

Adarabioyo brings a calmness on the ball, a control playing out from the back, but his reading of the game is something that has really come on, making several key interceptions.

With no slight on Derrick Williams, there would be concern should either of them get injured, with Rovers having missed Lenihan’s physicality in the six matches he’s missed this season (four defeats) and the quality of possession out from the back in the nine matches Adarabioyo hasn’t started.



Brentford in November, Derby last April, and QPR in January, there is something about playing under the Ewood lights that brings out the best in Joe Rothwell.

He opened his Rovers account in the win over Derby, did everything but score in a fine solo showing against the Bees, and chalked up his first assists of the season against Rangers.

The one disappointment was that he wasn’t able to build on an impressive first half showing as a hamstring injury forced him off at the break. Without him, Rovers lacked fluency in the second half.

Bradley Dack’s injury has seemingly sidelined Danny Graham too, with Adam Armstrong leading the line. What that’s allowed Rovers to do is stretch the pitch, creating more space for the likes of Rothwell and Lewis Holtby to operate in.

Speak to Mowbray Rothwell and he will discuss a player with immense talent, but needing to add more end product to his game. A Carabao Cup strike against Oldham apart, he’s still waiting for his first goal of the season, and his two assists against QPR were his first of the campaign. With attacking options stretched, Rovers will hope to have him back sooner rather than later.



No team in the country have scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches than Rovers’ 11. Extend that to 20 minutes, and Rovers have 14.

It’s been synonymous with the season, and something they haven’t always taken advantage. But against a Rangers side who have scored the second most, but conceded the third most, Mowbray felt it was essential his side started fast.

They played on the front foot and tried to knock the visitors out of their passing stride, and but for a Grant Hall goal-line clearance, could have been 2-0 up inside 20 minutes.

It will always be hard to continue playing at that intensity, and there were moments of sloppiness that crept in to Rovers’ play.

But while Mowbray wants his side to become more controlled with the ball, they look particularly threatening when playing on the front foot, Lewis Travis snapping in to tackles and driving forward.

Their energy proved too much at times.



Rovers end January 2020 as they did January 2020, with 43 points from 29 games and everything set up for a tilt at the top six in the final 17 games.

What happens in the next 48 hours of the transfer window could well have a say in that, and Rovers won’t be alone in thinking they could gatecrash the top six. Just 10 points separate Bristol City in sixth, from Derby in 17th. 

Rovers will hope to avoid their season derailing in the same way it did last season, when they took just four points from the 11 games that followed an unbeaten January. But they look well placed to beat last season’s points tally of 60, while they do have a superior goal difference of six at the same stage.

Rovers are now unbeaten in 10 home games, with six of the nine teams above them in the table still to come to Ewood. No-one will be relishing that trip.