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



FOR the third time this season Rovers came away from an away game with nothing to show for what was for the most part, an enterprising and encouraging display.

They had 50 efforts ay goal across three games against recently-promoted duo Bournemouth and Watford, only to be beaten 3-2 and 3-1 respectively, as well as being knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Newcastle United.

In all three matches Rovers dominated possession, and moved the ball around the pitch extremely well, and managed a combined 50 shots. But a ruthlessness in both boxes, that we’ve seen them capable of in the away win at Derby, has evaded them otherwise.

Rovers look a side who for the most part are doing everything that’s been asked of them between both boxes, moving the ball with confidence, enabling to get up the pitch with ease.

Having struggled to find a way through rigid defences in Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest, they fared much better against Watford’s back three, having 19 shots at goal and forcing fine saves out of Ben Foster.

However, as things wore on, it became more apparent that Watford were willing to sit in and hold on what they had, using the pace of Ismaila Sarr on the break, and let Rovers have the ball.

Whether it be that way, or the Cardiff and Forest approach, those two differing ones have caused Rovers trouble so far, and things they must overcome.

Rovers have now had the most shots in the division (101). They have looked more threatening on the road, than at Ewood, but must find their ruthless touch once again.



A FEATURE of Rovers’ play was the link-up between Ryan Nyambe and debutant Harvey Elliott down the right-hand side.

This was not the first time Mowbray has opted for a similar style of approach having previously utilised Lewis Holtby, Jack Payne and Peter Whittingham, a left footer on the right flank.

It’s one that allows the wide player to drift inside and allow Nyambe to gallop forward from right back, something he did time and again, and to good effect.

Mowbray was enthused by the debut of Elliott, giving him more minutes that he would perhaps have anticipated after just two days’ training, but the quality of his close control were clear to see.

His weight of pass was also excellent, none moreso than when playing in Armstrong whose chip over Ben Foster went narrowly over, via a touch from the keepers’ fingertips.

It’s that combination that Mowbray feels will get better with time, with Armstrong looking to play on the shoulder, and Elliott having the necessary quality to play him in.

With the axis of Holtby, Elliott and Nyambe down that side, it was a promising combination.



TOM Trybull was the second debutant of the night, albeit as a second half substitute.

The Rovers midfield which fired them to victory over Derby and Wycombe has lost some of its snap in the last two games, though still offering a level of control on the ball.

Corry Evans hasn’t looked as suited playing in a three, as part of a more defensive-minded two that he has previously occupied, and with no Joe Rothwell, Rovers have felt an attacking player light at times without him.

Trybull was making just a seventh appearance of the calendar year when replacing the Northern Irishman, while Barry Douglas, an unused substitute at Watford, has played just once this season for Leeds before leaving on loan.

The pair will likely prove to be key assets to the team moving forward, as while seeing plenty of the ball at Watford (only Darragh Lenihan touched it more), Amari’i Bell’s delivery into the box, and several forward balls, were found wanting.

Trybull looks the best bet of playing the holding midfield pivot that this side has lacked at times, the on-loan Norwich man looking like someone who can hold the centre of the pitch and distribute the ball from there.

His 28 touches of the ball included 25 passes, his willingness to move the ball quickly a facet of his cameo.



THERE have been peaks and troughs when it comes to Rovers’ availability list this season, and just when it appeared to be getting better, their bench against Watford looking far stronger than against Forest, there are still fitness issues to overcome.

Daniel Ayala limped out of the second half with a groin problem which would put his involvement against Coventry City in doubt, which would make the timing of Derrick Williams’ return all the more important.

Sam Gallagher too has had a stop-start time of things this season, missing the opening three games, and pre-season, with a muscle problem before coming off the bench in the home matches with Cardiff and Forest.

Gallagher rolled his ankle in training which ruled him out of the Vicarage Road trip but he too should come back into the reckoning at the weekend.

Joe Rothwell has been a miss in the last two matches, as he self-isolates, and it’s likely to be the visit of Reading next Tuesday before he’s back in contention.

The packed Championship schedule, and injury concerns, made that deadline day business all the more important.