An alternative look at Rovers’ extended 2019/20 campaign.


A note handed from John Buckley to Tosin Adarabioyo was seen as the moment which inspired the November win over Sheffield Wednesday, and also a revival in their season.

While the actual note contained details of Rovers’ set play plans, we preferred Adarabioyo’s take, his Nando’s takeaway reward. “Half chicken, garlic bread, peri chips and cheesecake. Score and it’s yours big man,” read Adarabioyo’s version of the note.


Rovers failed to win a corner against Leeds United for the first since the opening day of last season at Ipswich Town. Also Adarabioyo went a whole season without a booking, some going for a centre half. Stay tuned for more cutting insight in 2020/21.


Rovers were kings of the early goal, netting 15 times (10 away from home) inside the opening 15 minutes of matches, conceding just five in the process. That was the most scored, and second fewest conceded in the division.

Only four teams conceded fewer goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, dropping just five points in the process. Last season, for example, 27 goals were shipped in the final 15 minutes of matches. Late goals this season won them seven points and cost them five.

The satisfying symmetry is that Rovers scored, and conceded, 33 goals in the second half of matches, shared equally between the three 15-minute time segments.


Rovers did the double over four opponents this season, three of which they will face again next season (Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday, Reading) but one of them, Hull City, will be plying their trade in League One. Indeed, since their return to their Championship, Rovers haven’t taken more points against any side than the Tigers, a perfect 12 from 12.


Of the three teams to do the double over Rovers this season, we won’t be seeing Leeds United again next season, and possibly not Fulham, should they come through the play-offs. Luton, by way of their final day win over Rovers, will be back next season.

The players to score in both matches against Rovers were: John Swift (Reading), Aleksandr Mitrovic (Fulham), James Collins (Luton), Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest), Jordan Hugill (QPR), Patrick Bamford (Leeds), Conor Chaplin (Barnsley), Andre Ayew (Swansea).


Swansea City pre-match music, with the accompanying lights display, would have been more suitable to Ibiza than Abertawe, but certainly got the blood pumping, as did Derby County’s in March, which blew away any Sunday afternoon cobwebs.


While Fulham were victorious over Rovers in both their matches this season, they were very gracious hosts to members of the press. A lovely meal before the game, followed by pick ‘n’ mix to take in to the ground, followed by homemade pies and cookies at half-time, here’s hoping for another trip to Craven Cottage next season.


Back to the football, and Rovers got themselves in to play-off contention three times throughout the season. The first came after a fine November/early December run moved them up to eighth, only to take two points from the festive fixtures, around the time Bradley Dack endured a season-ending injury. Then pre-lockdown they blew their chance of a top six spot for the first time this season, losing 3-0 at Derby when they knew victory would seal a play-off place. And then again, after the 3-1 win over Bristol City post-lockdown, they lost three matches in a row to fall from seventh, and one point off sixth, to 10th, and seemingly out of contention.


Joe Rankin-Costello got a deserved first Championship start when Rovers travelled to Middlesbrough in February. It was almost over inside the opening 10 minutes when he took a swift right hook from goalkeeper Ainsley Pears.

It was all in the name of challenging for the ball, but left the Rovers Academy flat out on his back, with blood pouring from his head. The battling qualities he would come to show later in the season were in full view though, helped to his feet and strapped up with a bandage before carrying on.


The penalty given away by Jacob Davenport in the final game at Luton meant Rovers moved in to double figures conceded across their 46 Championship games. Christian Walton kept out Jarrod Bowen’s spot-kick at Hull City, but since then, all nine have been successfully converted.

So long Rovers have been used to Charlie Mulgrew dispatching penalties, and prior to this season, had missed just twice in the last three seasons.

However, with Mulgrew not in the picture, penalty duties this season were shared among three plays. They scored five of their seven penalties in all competitions, with Dack scoring one from one, Graham one from two, and Armstrong three from four.


The issue of ball retrieval was mentioned by both Tony Mowbray and Steve Waggott ahead of football’s return. Well who knew that Rovers would have a willing ball boy in their ranks already.

Late in the game against West Brom, Darragh Lenihan just wouldn’t let go, involved in a tug of war with Baggies boss Slaven Bilic as they grappled with the ball, and then each other, before the referee finally intervened.

Then, on the final day, as Rovers chased a late equaliser against Luton, who were battling to stay up, the balls positioned around the ground on cones, as per the EFL guidelines, mysteriously disappeared.

And let's not get on to Lewis Travis taking one where it hurts in the Reading game...


For this one we have to hand it to Hertha Berlin and their strong contingent of fans who attended Rovers Under-23s against their B team in the Premier League International Cup.

Even before kick-off they made a right racket, even more so when they found out there was no beer for sale.