A dire game saw Rovers escape with a point courtesy of an equaliser from substitute John Buckley.

Buckley had been on the pitch for just a matter of minutes as Rovers came away with, rather than earned, a point against Stoke City on a dreadful Ewood Park pitch.

They trailed to a Nick Powell header from a set play late in the first half and were devoid of anything for much of the game, bar a flurry of action either side of Buckley’s equaliser.

That included a red card for Stoke City defender James Chester, a sending off for pulling back Adam Armstrong as he raced through on goal, moments after seeing a shot saved by Joe Bursik.

That arrived with 17 minutes to play, so poor was Rovers’ attacking play on a pitch that offered little encouragement to get the ball down.

Rovers conceded first for the eighth time in nine games, and looked to be slipping to a sixth defeat in nine before Buckley’s goal which wouldn’t overrule a performance that was unacceptable for the most part.

Mowbray rang the changes from the side knocked out of the FA Cup, including a debut for Jarrad Branthwaite and a first league start for Bradley Dack. Elsewhere there were returns for Thomas Kaminski, Barry Douglas, Harvey Elliott, Joe Rothwell and Adam Armstrong in a switch to 4-2-3-1.

Stoke were quickest out of the blocks though, and a better touch from Powell from Jordan Thompson’s pass would have seen him with a clear sight of goal, with Rovers not for the first time caught out defensively.

A backpeddling Dack headed wide a Douglas cross, after good work down the right initially from Nyambe, in what was a far from enthralling opening.

The Ewood pitch was playing a big factor, not least with players going down injured, including Rothwell whose afternoon looked to have been ended when holding his groin.

However, he played on, and was part of Rovers’ best moment of the first half, 24 minutes. Driving through the heart of the Stoke defence he rode a Joe Allen challenge before playing in Armstrong whose shot found a way beyond Joe Bursik, though his celebrations were cut short by the linesman flagging for offside, replays suggesting that was the wrong call.

As the game wore on though, while chances were at a premium, Stoke’s corner count was rising, Kaminski punching most away, but it looked a decent bet for a goal for the visitors.

So it was no surprise to see them take the lead through that method, Jordan Thompson’s delivery from the right met by a flicked header from Powell which Kaminski got a hand to, but couldn’t keep out.

Things were starting to unravel for Rovers quickly, Thompson crashing a shot against the post from a near identical position that he passed from in the fifth minute, while from another corner, this time on the left, Powell was first to the header, denied by a tremendous Kaminski save.

It was a miserable end to the half for Rovers who failed to muster a shot on target and were grateful to the woodwork, and their goalkeeper, for not falling further behind.

That was the eighth time in nine games Rovers had conceded first, with Mowbray turning to his substitutes bench at the break, bringing on Sam Gallagher and Jacob Davenport.

It wasn’t the flying start Rovers had hoped to the second half, with Stoke having three decent opening inside the opening four minutes since the re-start, the best falling the way of Powell, who unmarked from a Thompson cross, headed over.

Things weren’t getting any more fluent, or promising for Rovers, in a game littered with stoppages.

Lewis Holtby and Ben Brereton were sent on, the latter as Gallagher was unable to continue following a collision which saw him go flying over the advertising boards.

The wait for a goalscoring chance went on, Dack taken off as the game ticked into the final 20 minutes, the second half arguably poorer than the first.

The first shot on target arrived in the 73rd minute, Nyambe cutting back for Armstrong whose fiercely struck drive was met by the equally strong hands of Bursik.

That proved to be something of a turning point as within three minutes they were level thanks to Buckley’s close-range finish. He tapped home from inside the six yard box after being teed up by Elliott from the byline as a Nyambe cross made its way through to him.

Another game-changing moment arrived seconds later, Stoke captain James Chester sent off for pulling down Armstrong as he looked to race onto a ball forward, though still 30 yards from goal.

That added a different complexion to the game as from nowhere, Rovers were searching for an unlikely winner.

That chance fell the way of Lewis Holtby with six minutes remaining, Elliott and Armstrong linking up to put him in, his shot from inside the box over the bar under pressure from the covering Collins.

The one effort in the five additional minutes saw Brereton's shot on the turn gathered by Bursik.

Rovers: Kaminski, Nyambe, Lenihan, Branthwaite, Douglas, Johnson (Davenport, 46), Travis (Holtby, 64), Rothwell (Gallagher, 46 (Brereton, 61)), Dack (Buckley, 71), Elliott, Armstrong

Subs: Pears, Downing, Trybull, Dolan

Stoke City: Bursik, Collins, Souttar, Chester, Brown, Allen (Cousins, 83), Obi, Thompson, Norrington-Davies, Powell (Clarke, 61), Matondo (Batth, 83)

Subs: Nna Noukeu, Ince, Vokes, Smith, Oakley-Boothe, Clucas