Rovers picked up a third win of the season with a 2-0 victory over Hull City courtesy of second half goals from Daniel Ayala and Ben Brereton.


When Josh Magennis turned home a Callum Elder cross, only for his celebrations to be short-lived because of the linesman’s flag, it had to act as a wake-up call to a Rovers side who at the time were toiling in possession and in need of a lift.

Tony Mowbray had sensed similar, a feeling too that Rovers could afford another attacking option on the pitch after Leighton Clarkson came into the starting line-up for Sam Gallagher in a move that pushed John Buckley out to the right.

Tyrhys Dolan had started brightly, a shot at either end of the first half going close when cutting in from the left, but Rovers needed to up their intensity.

A lift to the team, and crowd, came within seconds of the disallowed goal, Clarkson and Buckley off, Reda Khadra on for his debut and a first run out in a month for birthday boy Dan Butterworth.

That came in the 54th minute, both having attempts on goal soon after stepping onto the pitch, Butterworth’s a vicious swerving effort that was kept out by the chest of Matt Ingram.

Two corners were then won, the second of which, delivered by Joe Rothwell, was met by a bullet header from Daniel Ayala that nestled in the corner.

With 61 minutes on the watch, was the breakthrough Rovers had searched for and a clear shift in the momentum.
They were suffocating Hull who couldn’t find a way out, Khadra keen to impress and Butterworth eager to show that his performances on the training pitch are worthy of more game-time.

A front approach saw Lewis Travis crash an effort just wide, before Brereton shot straight at Ingram from a tight angle.

The Chile international now had support around him, and drifting out to the left from his starting central position saw him link well with Khadra. But it was of his own making that he put Rovers two goals ahead in the 65th minute, curling an unstoppable shot from the left edge of the box into the far corner, giving Ingram no chance.

It threatened to become similar to the February 2020 meeting, a 3-0 win for the hosts, Rovers struggling for the opening hour before a goal from a centre half (on that occasion Darragh Lenihan) opened the floodgates.

The game was won in 12 breath-taking minutes, Rovers then able to see out the game with relative comfort, though George Moncur did twice go close for the visitors late on.

The double-sub inspired the team, but also the crowd, whose concern at the first half display was soon forgotten as they roared behind their side and saw them to victory.

‘A young side deserving of their support’ was Mowbray’s post-match verdict, and the crowd showed once again that they will respond to a team playing on the front foot with purpose.



The start to the game mirrored so many of last season, Rovers dominating the ball against an opposition playing in a deep block to limit space in behind.

It felt an exercise in patience and imagination, but Hull, seemingly growing in confidence, then began to take the game to Rovers.

No goals in their previous five matches suggested they were lacking in firepower, but they were giving Rovers something to think about as they got a foothold in the game.

Were it not for the linesman’s flag early in the second half they would have had an opener to go with their territory.

As it was, Rovers switched things up, adding more mobility to their side, and pushed the Tigers back.

Rovers remain bottom of the possession statistics, with under 40 per cent, and are still to reach 50 in any match.

Their figure against Hull was 46, though Mowbray did suggest that with the make-up of the squad, and the pace at the top end of the pitch, that Rovers will look to play more on the counter-attack and afford the opposition more possession than may appear comfortable.

With Khadra now on the scene, as well as Dolan and Brereton, plus Gallagher and Poveda to come back in, it feels that would suit the make-up of the squad.

That will put more pressure on the back four to keep the opposition out, but Lenihan and Ayala appear to have struck up a good understanding, while after their attacking intent was to the fore against Luton, full backs Nyambe and Pickering stood strong against Hull’s two biggest threats, Keane Lewis-Potter and Mallik Wilks.

That meant for a first clean sheet in 16 games, while at the other end, Rovers are one of just five sides to have scored in every match so far, managing two in four of their seven fixtures.



Rovers have used only 19 players this season and have relied on the same faces in the early weeks of the season, but they are giving the manager everything they've got.

Thomas Kaminski, Lenihan, Ayala, Travis and Brereton have played every minute so far, while Pickering and Rothwell have started have been ever-present in the side.

Gallagher and Buckley have started all but one match, while Dolan and Nyambe have been in five, and four, line-ups respectively.

Of the others, only Hayden Carter and Leighton Clarkson have made more than one start, with Tyler Magloire, Jacob Davenport, Ian Poveda, Harry Chapman, Reda Khadra and Dan Butterworth completing the list.

Against Hull, Mowbray was keen to point out that 14 of the matchday 18 were aged 23, or under, and only this weekend’s opponents Barnsley have used players with an average age younger than Rovers’ 23.7.

Reinforcements will be on their way soon, with Gallagher’s absence only set to be shortlisted, while Tayo Edun, Bradley Johnson and Joe Rankin-Costello are all nearing full fitness.

Johnson will bring experience and muscle to the middle of the park, while Rankin-Costello and Edun offer versatility, though Mowbray will hope he doesn’t have to turn to them as injury replacements, keen to keep as many of his senior players fit as possible.