Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out four talking points from the defeat at Barnsley.



When the Championship re-started with nine games to go, there were very few teams who could be viewed as having nothing to play for. As the matches ticked by, that number was always going to grow, and Rovers could well have now joined that club.

After Saturday’s defeat, I wrote how many more opportunities would Rovers get? But after defeat at Barnsley, it raises the question of how many do they need?

Think back to the Christmas period, going in to it with 16 points from the last 18 available, and the top six in sight, they took just two points from back-to-back home games with Wigan and Birmingham, and then lost at Huddersfield, in the wake of Bradley Dack’s injury.

The door opened up again at Derby pre-lockdown as results elsewhere went their way, only to be over-run in a 3-0 defeat.

The Bristol City win breathed life back in to the season, but within 10 days, you’d be hard pressed to find a Rovers fan thinking they could make the top six. They now face a season petering out as it did last term where after four January wins in a row put them in contention, they faded badly, winning just one of their next 11 games.

Rovers are four points shy of beating last season’s tally of 60 points, but Tony Mowbray’s target of 70 now looks beyond them. And the biggest disappointment is that it probably won’t require much more to reach the top six this season given the way the majority of play-off chasing teams have stuttered since the re-start.



There would be a debate to be had on what would be Rovers’ strongest XI with everyone fit, but you’d be hard pressed for it not to include Darragh Lenihan, Lewis Travis, Corry Evans and Bradley Dack.

So to be without all four in the same match, it was always going to rely on others stepping up to the plate. Too many missed their opportunity to impress.

There have been peaks and troughs to Rovers’ availability list all season, but you’d have got good odds after the Bristol City win that just two games later they would finish a match with Charlie Mulgrew, Jacob Davenport and Harry Chapman all on the pitch.

They are now deprived of three options at left back and two of their likely starting central midfielders.

There was a patched up and ragged look to the way Rovers finished the game. Being 2-0 down at bottom of the league and seeing Danny Graham taking a long throw in the direction of Sam Gallagher, the only man in the box up against four Barnsley defenders, summed it up.

They lacked shape and discipline in the closing stages that were a tough watch, unrecognisable from the organised and effective way they shut down Bristol City.

And their stats when Lenihan isn’t available don’t make for great reading. Since promotion back to the Championship he’s missed 20 matches, of which Rovers have won three, drawn four and lost 13, conceding 38 in that time and keeping just one clean sheet.



In isolation, Rovers’ goal return this season is more than acceptable, 55 in 40 games. However, they have now failed to score in four of their last six, and five of their last 10 fixtures.

At times it’s been a difficulty in creating chances, but at Oakwell, the problems were in taking them. Dominic Samuel passed up two golden chances, his reaction to missing the second one when found totally unmarked from a Stewart Downing free kick showed how big a chance it was.

Mowbray waited until after going a goal down to make his move, changing his whole front three for the third game running, but whereas the subs added something in the previous two matches, a show of petulance from Ben Brereton ended his night, and with it Rovers’ chances of a fightback.

Between Armstrong, Graham, Gallagher, Brereton and Samuel, they have made a combined 81 starts and further 52 substitute appearances in the Championship, contributing 20 goals.

Defenders Lenihan, Tosin Adarabioyo and Derrick Williams have nine between them.

There are mitigations, not least several of those attacking players may point to a lack of a run in the team, others to not being utilised in their favourite position. But even the manager acknowledges there will be scrutiny and criticism when the goals don’t flow.

For the last two seasons, Rovers have found it hard to come back when conceding the first goal, which makes it even more vital to take your chances when they do come along.

There was a feeling of inevitability when good opportunities went begging that Rovers would be made to pay, and they were just that.



Rovers counted themselves unfortunate to be relegated having amassed 51 points in 2016/17, with goal difference eventually sending them down.

Well with six games still to play, that figure looks increasingly like being topped by at least one team who will drop out of the division.

Both the bottom two have remained unbeaten since the re-start, as are Charlton who’ve climbed to 19th and Wigan whose three consecutive wins have moved them in to the comparative safety of mid-table.

As for Rovers, well defeat at Oakwell means they have taken 22 points from a possible 45 against the current bottom eight, with still Luton Town to travel to on the final day.

They have been beaten by each of the current bottom three, and while the ‘anyone can beat anyone’ Championship mantra is true, dropping points against teams in the bottom third of the table is a huge source of frustration.

Rovers will likely look back at each of those games where points have been lost and seen them as a missed opportunity – this one will be close to the top of matches where they should have had three points, could have had one, but ended up with none.