After a run of five straight defeats, how can Rovers arrest their slide down the table?


In the 11 matches in which they have scored first, Rovers have won 10 and drawn the other at Brentford. The first goal has always been huge, but feels imperative now.

Since that Brentford draw on December 5, Rovers have conceded first in 13 of their 16 matches, the others being a 2-0 win at Birmingham City and 1-0 successes against Middlesbrough and Luton.

The other points in that run were 1-1 draws with Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday.

Equally, in that same period, Rovers have only scored three times in the first half, and their first half record at Ewood this season is the worst in the division.

Last season Rovers were quick out of the blocks, scoring more than anyone in the division in the opening 15 minutes of matches, but goals have dried up in the first half.

They have trailed 2-0 in each of their last two home matches, and getting their noses infront seems vital.


It sounds simple and obvious, but a victory would settle everyone, including the players, down, but needs to happen before Rovers find themselves in real trouble.

Rovers are now in the territory of trying to salvage something from a season that offered so much early promise, and now even 50 points looks a way off, and they’re also 24 off last season’s tally of 63.

This isn’t new territory, Rovers won one of 11 matches between February and March 2019, but a home victory over Derby County settled them down and was the start of four consecutive wins.

This weekend’s visit of Coventry is made even more important because of what comes after. If not, then things may well get worse before they get better.

The concern for Rovers is this feels like more than a poor run we’ve been accustomed to, and with games every three games the pressure is only going to ramp up with every passing defeat.

And while February is yet to yield a point, March looks a dauting one on paper, their six games leading up to the international break seeing away trips to Reading and Millwall, home games against Swansea, Brentford and Bristol City before heading into the international break after a trip to Norwich City.

Any fixture looks tough when you have suffered five straight defeats, not least against four of the top six and two other top half teams.


Rovers’ best football this season has come with a front three of Adam Armstrong, Harvey Elliott and Ben Brereton, the latter pair both on the scoresheet against Watford.

Brereton looks the best of any of Rovers’ options on the left, and he looked particularly bright off the bench against Watford. His run of 15 consecutive starts was ended by injury, but since returning from Boxing Day, he’s started four of the last 11 fixtures.

While Brereton has had to wait for his opportunities after his injury return, Lewis Travis has been a regular, but has toiled of late, and could do with a rest. Yet the limited options available leave Mowbray with little option but to start him.

Equally, the issues in defence offer little option for change, so a return to the attacking football from the early season may mean attack is the best form of defence, and could even accommodate Dack and Rothwell as part of a midfield three.

Rovers have so much attacking talent, they need to find a way of unlocking it.

They pressed the life out of the Sky Blues in the reverse fixture, and that front-foot pressing could be the best way forward.


Whether it be a siege mentality, or a calmness within the camp, Rovers need to maintain a unity within the playing squad as it will require a team effort to turn things around.

Mowbray said he has tried to shouting and bawling approach, and last night opted for a calmer manner, while still getting his point across. The manager said he understood the frustration and was aware of the pressures that are mounting, those cannot be ignored.

Rovers did keep going to the very end, and they would have snatched an unlikely late point had Jarrad Branthwaite bundled home a Stewart Downing free kick at the far post.

Rovers’ three loanees will never have experienced anything like this before, and while they need to stand up and be counted, they also need the help of others around.

This isn’t the most experienced group of players available, but leaders need to emerge, and Armstrong has looked a maturing figure at the top end of the pitch, while it was pleasing to see Rothwell take it upon himself to go after the Watford defence in the lead up to the first goal.

The season has unravelled within the space of two-and-a-half weeks and five matches, and the task now is to ensure they don’t become the side to get dragged into trouble out of nowhere.