Tony Mowbray isn’t one for looking at the scores of other teams given Rovers’ inability to affect them. His concern this week will be ensuring Rovers keep up pace with the top six with victory over Stoke City on Wednesday.

Since the inception of the red button, with fans able to watch every Championship midweek game live, fixtures have been split across Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

At this stage of the season, it can offer intriguing incentives to teams, depending on when they’re playing.

Two weeks ago it was Rovers able to apply pressure to the top six, their win over Hull City on Tuesday, February 11 moving them up to eighth and three points outside of the play-off spots.

On the same night, Brentford and Leeds drew 1-1, while Nottingham Forest were surprisingly beaten by Charlton at home and Swansea held by QPR. Results couldn’t have gone much better for Rovers.

But within 24 hours the gap was restored to six points, Preston winning at Stoke City, Bristol City overcoming Derby while Cardiff City remained in the equation as they beat Huddersfield 3-0.

The ebbs and flows of the most predictably unpredictable league.

Rovers head in to this round of matches five points outside the top six after the weekend draw with Brentford, while a comeback win for Preston means they, along with Nottingham Forest, are locked on 56 points with the Bees as things group up again.

Bristol City’s fixture list pitted them against top two Leeds and West Brom in successive matches, with defeats in both leaving them still on 53 points.

Rovers and Swansea are two points further back, with Cardiff three while 11th-placed Millwall on 49 will still think they are in the conversation.

While Rovers will be fully focussed on their task in hand, the four sides directly above them are all in action before they kick-off against Stoke. The gap to the play-offs could range anywhere from five, six or eight points.



Brentford travel to Luton, Bristol City to Huddersfield, Nottingham Forest to Cardiff (who could overtake Rovers with a win) while Preston are at The Hawthorns to face West Brom. Fixtures on paper that don’t look easy, but predicting results in the Championship is particularly futile.

That makes working out how many points might needed for a top six finish, and ‘super-computer prediction tables’ a meaningless task.

Whatever the gap, whatever the results, it feels a pivotal week for Rovers and their hopes of maintaining a top six push. They remain outsiders, not least with the gap to the top six but also the injuries.

However, with one defeat in eight matches, and a good home record, Ewood fixtures are likely to prove pivotal, not least with the visit of Bristol City just around the corner, as well as top West Brom and Leeds.

Rovers know what they need to do - irrespective of results elsewhere. And whatever the outcome of their top six pursuit, they looked more than well placed to beat last season's tally of 60 points with 12 games remaining, and on course to achieve the 70 outlined by Mowbray at the start of the season.