Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out four talking points from the win at Cardiff City.



For the first time since the re-start, Tony Mowbray didn’t use his full allocation of five substitutes. He also left it longer than he has in any of Rovers’ previous four games to make a change, the 69th minute, and that was an enforced one, as Joe Rankin-Costello hobbled off to be replaced by Elliott Bennett.

Joe Rothwell followed seven minutes later, with Rovers using their third and final window three minutes from time as Sam Gallagher and Lewis Holtby added fresh legs.

There is the caveat that for the first time since the Bristol City win, Rovers were ahead and not needing to chase the game, which would likely have had an impact on the thinking.

But Mowbray was likely conscious of how well his side were playing, and not willing to break that up.

There was a triple substitution against Bristol City in the 65th minute, one minute earlier the same number of players were introduced at Wigan, while four were sent on at Barnsley midway through the second half.

It was nearly an entirely different team for the final quarter of those matches, whereas there was a more familiar look about the side until the late introductions of Gallagher and Holtby.

Sometimes, less can be more.



On Saturday, Adam Armstrong made it the magnificent seven with his free kick against Leeds United. He moved to an extraordinary eight with an incredible strike against Cardiff City.

Now more than half of Armstrong’s 15 goals this season have come from outside the box. And none further out than his incredible winning strike at Cardiff City.

It was a stunning piece of skill, the quick-thinking to have the wherewithal to first spot Alex Smithies off his line before he executed the finish.

There was an anticipation of the loose pass initially, and then an out-of-this-world effort to dip the ball under the crossbar from 45 yards.

“Just a moment of class. He's put it in the roof of the net from 45 yards, fair play to the lad,” was how Cardiff boss Neil Harris summed up the strike.

It was part of an excellent second half from Rovers, but also Armstrong, who had come to life and terrorised the Cardiff backline with his direct running.

He had a hand in the second goal for Dominic Samuel, and is without a doubt Rovers’ most potent attacker. An ability to score goals that get you off your seat helps, and the only downside was that fans weren’t able to enjoy it live. Think Le Tisser at Ewood in 1994/95, this is one that would have had even the home supporters applauding.




Hull City, Reading, Stoke City, Bristol City Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton and now Cardiff City, all places Rovers have won on the road this season.

They have now beaten last season’s tally for away wins, and matched the number achieved in 2013/14, previously their highest since relegation from the Premier League.

Rovers’ away record so far reads seven wins, three draws and 11 defeats, with 24 points achieved. That is more points won on the road, with still trips to Millwall and Luton to come, than the last three seasons, and also 2012/13. They will have to win both of their last two however, to match the 30 points chalked up in 2013/14.

They averaged more than two goals a game against last season, with 48 in their 23 away fixtures, and even after shipping nine in their last four, they’ve still conceded 11 fewer goals than last season.

There have been some blips on the road, the second half performance at Preston to lose 3-2, the dour affair at Birmingham City in November, going 1-0 up at Huddersfield Town but falling to a 2-1 defeat; points have been thrown away.

But Rovers have looked less likely to succumb to pressure on the road across the season as a whole, despite showing signs of vulnerability lately, but more importantly have found a way to win.



A member of staff at Rovers once said that Joe Rankin-Costello was so good that he could play anywhere. Left back wouldn’t have been top of the positions you’d expect the 20-year-old to come in and make his own, but you’d be hard pressed not to see him as the best option in the squad right now.

He’s physical strong, very good in the air, as demonstrated by him beating 6’4 striker Robert Glatzel to an aerial challenge, and happy to get forward and go down the outside, not simply check back on to his right foot, which gave Rovers more drive down that side.

For just his seventh Championship appearance, he looks assured on the first team stage.

And while Rovers started the game with five players whose contracts at the club end at the end of the season, here’s a player who they can consider very much part of their plans.

Rankin-Costello was one of four Academy graduates in the starting line-up, alongside Darragh Lenihan, Lewis Travis and Ryan Nyambe, with Mowbray likely to build around his Brockhall graduates.

To do so, Rovers will need address the contract situations of both Nyambe and Rankin-Costello, whose deals expire next summer, and with funds likely to be tight this summer, looking to young players from the Academy, such as John Buckley, Dan Butterworth and Jack Vale, to at the very least supplement the squad, will be important for Mowbray.