As Tony Mowbray marks four years in charge of Rovers tomorrow, he reaches that milestone on the back of the worst run of results since his second anniversary, in February 2019.

Only five post-War managers can match Mowbray’s tenure in terms of matches, now up to 203, and he has undoubtedly brought the stability the club, and supporters, craved upon his appointment.

Stability doesn’t just come by choice however, success will be the defining factor, and throughout his tenure, Rovers’ momentum has been a forward one. Equally, stability shouldn’t come at the cost of progress or fear of the unknown, and after successive mid-table finishes, a third looks very much on the cards.

Progress can of course be determined by a number of different factors, player development, playing style, Academy prospects, of which we've seen, but for most supporters, that will mostly rest with points and results

Mowbray feels he’s on his second cycle with Rovers, stalwarts of his first, David Raya, Charlie Mulgrew, Richie Smallwood, Craig Conway and Danny Graham, moved on, others playing a much lesser role now. That first cycle brought promotion from League One and consolidation in the Championship, points tally’s of 60 and 63, and finishes of 15th and 11th.

The next stage of their development is to become certified top six contenders, and in the second cycle, which Mowbray dates back to the start of this season, it’s yet to yield any greater results over an extended period.

And with 12 first-team players out of contract in the summer, five loanees on the club’s books and a striker whose 20 goals this season will undoubtedly attract Premier League attention, the second cycle may soon have to become a third.

Rovers are now five points worse off than at the same stage last season, with one fewer win and three more defeats. After 30 games in 2018/19, they had four more points, the same number of wins, but four fewer defeats.

And it is that number of losses that is the concern. For the positives we’ve seen, and there were again at the City Ground moments of good play, it’s now eight defeats in their last 14 matches. Too many times, tight games are going against them.

In isolation, the performance at Nottingham Forest wasn’t anything to be overly concerned about, a penalty kick away from coming away with a point, and up to the final third they looked bright, but lacking some individuality, creativity and quality, and also numbers in the box, too often.

But it’s that frustrating pattern of not finding a way back into games after falling beyond, this game so similar to ones at Bristol City, Stoke City and QPR.  Repetition makes reputation, 10 times Rovers have now lost by the odd goal and in 12 of the last 15 games they’ve conceded the first goal.

We’ve come to learn that using social media as a guide for public opinion is far from fool proof, and it can become easy to get wrapped into the furore that follows a Rovers defeat.

However, much of that centres not just around an individual results or performances, or indeed those within a week or a month, but upon the patterns that emerge, and the discontent appears to be growing.

It feels as though we’ve seen much of this play out before, understandable given the length of time the manager has been in charge. This the latest trough in the up and down cycle of this Rovers side, but hopefully we’ve reached the lowest ebb.

This current period is playing out just as did exactly two years ago, February 2019, with four successive defeats to start the month on the back of a positive January, decimated defensive options, being edged out by one goal, and a season that is imploding infront of our eyes.

In the space of these four matches, Rovers have gone from firmly in play-off contention to battling to hold on to a top half spot and a need to get to 50 points as quickly as possible. Back in February 2019, things got worse before they got better, nine defeats in 11 before four successive wins started to turn things around.

A run of fixtures that includes the top seven in their next 11 matches awaits, and with injuries at the back and goals drying up in attack, it will take a strong mentality to see them get some momentum back into their season in the coming weeks, and avoid parallels with 2019 growing stronger.

The game was decided by a deflected Alex Mighten strike, the winger beating Lewis Travis to the loose ball after a set play was only half cleared, his 24th minute shot wrong-footing Thomas Kaminski.

It was Anthony Knockaert on the opposite flank who caused Rovers the most trouble in the opening 45 minutes, a break into the box saw him almost open the scoring, his shot beating Kaminski but not the covering Ryan Nyambe who headed off the line.

Rovers went with their two loan central defenders in the absence of captain Darragh Lenihan tried to get to grips with Glenn Murray who almost made it 2-0 soon after the opening goal, his shot flashing wide of the far post, while James Garner had a header clip the top of the bar in stoppage time.

Adam Armstrong, captain in the absence of Lenihan, went closest for Rovers in first half injury time, a stunning effort leaving Brice Samba rooted to the spot, the post coming to the ‘keeper’s rescue.

Ben Brereton couldn’t make the most of some promising openings on his return to his former club, two efforts saved by the keeper and another scuffed wide from distance.

While Rovers had more of the ball, Forest had the better chances to score, just after the hour they looked set to double their lead as after Kaminski tipped a Cyrus Christie shot onto the post, an unmarked Lyle Taylor put the rebound wide with the goal gaping.

That looked to have cost Forest when Nyambe’s persistence was rewarded by him winning a penalty as he was flattened by Samba. However, the ‘keeper got the better of Armstrong from the penalty, guessing right to push away his spot-kick.

Armstrong had earlier flashed one shot wide of the near post, but despite their territory, Forest held out for a second 1-0 victory over Rovers this season who failed to score for the ninth time.

With injury issues at the back, compounded by Nyambe injuring his hamstring late on, a lack of goals hasn’t been able to negate that at the other end, with just 12 in their last 15 matches.

Problems to solve at both ends of the pitch amid a growing injury list, it’s not how Mowbray would have wanted to mark his fourth anniversary in charge.