Four talking points after Rovers’ 1-1 draw at Luton Town


Joe Rothwell’s quality on the ball has been unquestioned since he arrived at the club in the summer of 2018. He accepts the one question mark hanging over him has been his tally of goals and assists.

He managed two of each last season, and while he’s still waiting for that elusive goal, he has managed two assists already this term.

But away from the numbers, his performances are deserving of a place in the side, his ability to isolate players and drift beyond them like they’re not there was even throughout the 90 minutes here. Indeed, he was the one player you had the most belief in that something would happen when the ball landed at his feet.

He has played much of his football for Rovers on the left of an attacking three behind the central striker, but a move to the 4-3-3 we’ve seen so far appears to have brought the best out of him.

His place in the side now is as secure as it’s been during any stage of his Rovers career.

He will need to add more goals and end product, he knows that, but his ability to drive forward with the ball is something, particularly without Lewis Travis, that Rovers don’t have in midfield


Sam Gallagher may have been brought on to play from the right wing, but it was in a natural centre forward position that saw him draw Rovers level. He showed good anticipation to get on the end of Barry Douglas’ knock-down, knowing all it likely needed was a touch to turn the ball home.

He went closest to finding a winner too, his left foot shot on the turn drawing a save from Simon Sluga which neither Ben Brereton or Rothwell could turn home.

Of Gallagher’s eight appearances this season, seven have come from the bench, a mixture of a stop-start season with injury and also the form of the current players occupying the front three positions.

All he can do to force Mowbray’s hand is produce the goods when coming off the bench, with all of his last four Rovers goals coming as a substitute.

In Adam Armstrong they possess the Championship’s top scorer, but more regular sources of goals elsewhere would be very much welcomed.  


Rovers were kings of the fast starts last season, with 17 per cent of their goals coming in the opening 10 minutes. It’s a trait they looked to be continuing this season, not least the three goals inside 15 minutes at Derby County.

However, in their last nine Championship fixtures they have scored just two first half goals, coming in the 4-0 win at Coventry and 4-2 defeat to Reading.

Only Norwich have managed more than Rovers’ 187 shots at goal, with 15 more at Luton, but it wasn’t until the closing stages that they really started to threaten the hosts’ goal.

Crucially they equalised three minutes after Luton’s goal, particularly important given how the Hatters saw out victories in the two meetings last season.

But for all their late pressure, they couldn’t find that elusive winner as a wait for a win at Kenilworth Road in the league stretches to 20 matches.

And much of that owed to the fact it took them to fall behind to add any real intensity to their play.


You can often get a sense from a referee early on that he could well have a big say in how the match will play out.

The first five minutes, he gave the impression he’d forgotten is whistle as fouls appeared to go unpunished for both sides.

The inconsistency of decisions was there from the moment he opted to book Rothwell for a tug of the shirt, less than two minutes after Glen Rea had escaped similar punishment for a carbon copy foul.

The bookings for Bradley Johnson and Harvey Elliott could bring no complaints, but referee Ward took centre stage in the four added minutes at the end of the game.

First, neither he or his linesman, adjudged Adam Armstrong to have been bundled to the floor by Rhys Norrington-Davies, despite being the wrong side of the attacker when making a challenge, and no contact with the ball.

Rovers then quickly recycled possession, Rothwell skipping beyond his man before finding Brereton whose run towards the box looked to have been cynically blocked off by Martin Cranie. The referee blew his whistle, and the like the ‘foul on Armstrong’ looked certain to give Rovers a free kick in a promising position.

However, the whistle was blown to indicate Brereton had dived, the yellow card brandished. While the Armstrong decision drew bemusement from the striker, Brereton made his anger clear.

Brereton, in the Craig Conway mould, has won several cheap free kicks already this season, but this didn’t appear to be one of those occasions.

With neither decision denying Rovers a penalty, simply free kicks just on the edge of the box, the timing of both in Rovers’ quest for a winner, emotions ran high.

Baffling, bizarre and bemused, Rovers move onto Preston, and Mr Ward to Millwall, where he will hold the board up for substitutions and to indicate added on time, as well as get more of an earful from managers on the touchline.