Tony Mowbray praised the influence of Daniel Ayala as Rovers earned a point on the road at Bristol City.

Mowbray said he even toyed with bringing on the Spaniard after 20 minutes given Rovers’ vulnerability to set plays.

The hosts eventually led in the 35th minute through Callum O’Dowda before Ayala was introduced just before the break, albeit in unfortunate circumstances for Ian Poveda, with the Leeds Untied loanee having sustained suspected ankle ligament damage.

Rovers were much more solid in the second half when going with a back three and earned a point with their only effort on target, 15 minutes from time, as Ben Brereton scored his 14th of the season.

“We struggled first half, we didn’t really get to the levels we needed to be at,” Mowbray said.

“I was toying with the idea of putting Ayala on after 20 minutes really because we were struggling with their directness and their long throws and free kicks coming into the box.

“But I wanted to give an opportunity to the team that did so well against Sheffield United to try and do it again.

“Yet ultimately it was the physicality that caught us out and Daniel helped put that fire out, heading balls out, and that gave us the platform second half to go out there and be more aggressive and ask more questions of them.

“I think that was how the game panned out, I think that was the least that we deserved, they were always a danger from their long throws and their directness but second half we carried a threat, we felt as their box was under more threat than ours.

“We have to take the point and try and follow it up with a victory on Wednesday if we can.”

Ayala had been out for the previous two matches with a calf injury while the suspension of Jan Paul van Hecke opened up the chance for Scott Wharton to return to the side after 11 months out.

Mowbray felt the pair, alongside Darragh Lenihan, helped settle things down for Rovers and believes that Wharton can learn plenty from the experienced Spaniard.

“Daniel has only had one day training, which is why he was on the bench. There was the idea that he was coming on at some stage, but he was so vulnerable to start the game and break down at some stage and potentially be out for another four weeks and that wasn’t a risk I was willing to take,” Mowbray explained.

“As the game unfolded it was something that needed to be done and he helped us immensely.

“I’ve said to Scotty Wharton, that’s his target and the level he has to try and get to.

“Look at how dominant he is with his body, how many first contacts he makes, Scott struggled a bit with (Bristol City striker Chris) Martin in the first half and how he used his body, sticking his backside in and holding him off but he (Martin) couldn’t do the same against Ayala.

“It helped our team and we were on the front foot more.”