Talking points from Rovers’ win at Norwich City in the FA Cup third round.



Rovers hadn’t won an FA Cup tie since 2017, losing in the third round in five successive seasons, before ending their drought at Carrow Road.

Indeed, Jon Dahl Tomasson has enjoyed his first taste of England’s domestic cup competitions as a head coach, with Rovers winning through three rounds in the Carabao Cup and now into the FA Cup fourth round.

In the previous seven seasons, Rovers had won only 10 cup ties.

With a home tie against Forest Green Rovers or Birmingham City to come later this month, there is a big opportunity for Rovers to go deep in the competition.

Tomasson went stronger than many expected, making six alterations, in a change of tack to the Carabao Cup.

The changes included starts for Scott Wharton and Lewis Travis, who have previously been regulars in the side, as cup specialists Aynsley Pears, Hayden Carter, Dilan Markanday and Jack Vale came in.

There will be over a week from Rovers’ fourth round tie, played on the weekend of January 28/29, to their Championship game with Wigan Athletic on February 6, so the opportunity is there for Tomasson to name an equally strong side.



In the week he was named among the top 50 teenage prospects in the world by FourFourTwo, Phillips put in the kind of performance to demonstrate just why there is so much hype around the 17-year-old.

Thrust into the action early after Scott Wharton’s withdrawal, Phillips put in a faultless display alongside the colossal Dom Hyam, his best since emerging on the first-team scene.

Lancashire Telegraph:

In this competition 12 months ago, Phillips had his first involvement with the Rovers first-team, and a year on he’s firmly in Jon Dahl Tomasson’s plans.

His opportunities have dried up since his early season run, with his last Championship start coming in early October, but he put in his best display to date to repel Norwich’s threat.

Phillips used all of his 6’4 frame to clear a succession of set pieces, while his reading of the game was typified by intercepting a Teemu Pukki cross late on.

While he may have to be patient for opportunities in the immediate future, his place in the long-term plans is undoubted.



With George Hirst recalled by Leicester City, and the transfer window open, Vale gave a timely reminder of his credentials with the winning goal to send Rovers into round four.

Rovers pounced on a Grant Hanley error as Bradley Dack kept his head to square for Vale to side-foot home his second senior goal.

Vale has been firmly in Tomasson’s plans this season, with 15 appearances in all competitions, but he has twice been subbed at half time when given his chance from the start.

The 21-year-old has only recently returned from injury, but got through 67 minutes, and as well as his goal he helped link the play well.

His influence diminished in the second half before his withdrawal, but claiming the winning goal on his first start since the West Ham tie will have done his confidence the world of good.

Incomings in his position are being targeted before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, but he will have been pleased to have taken his chance when it came.



Aynsley Pears was the villain of the piece as Rovers exited at the third round stage last season.

Yet he showed his resolve to keep Norwich at bay with a series of saves.

While many of them were from long range, he had to show strong handling in what were difficult conditions to keep the hosts at bay.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The pick of the saves came either side of half time to deny Gabriel Sara and then Onel Hernandez, while he was positive in his play from Norwich’s set pieces.

His outing at Norwich was his fifth of the season, already more than last season, but his opportunities look set to be restricted to the cup competitions, with Thomas Kaminski Rovers’ undisputed No.1.

Pears will want more regular football, and this display mall well raise interest in his services, but it would create a problem that Rovers could do without should he push for a loan move.



The attacker was the one player confirmed as a starter by Tomasson ahead of the game and came through 90 minutes. Along with Bradley Dack, he will have been one to have benefited most from an extended run-out.

However, his display told us little we didn’t already know.

The attacker is blessed with excellent close control, low centre of gravity and an ability to weave his way out of tight situations.

Yet Tomasson will still want to see Markanday become more reliable in possession, and whether a consequence of their personnel or not, Norwich did look to target Rovers down their right-hand side.

He didn’t offer Hayden Carter the same protection as Ben Brereton did Harry Pickering on the opposite side, and being a part of Rovers’ defensive structure is a step he will have to take.

The positive for Markanday is the improvements that Tomasson has seen on the training pitch, despite his lack of minutes.

His immediate future will depend upon Rovers’ incomings, but having seen development in him despite his game-time in the first half of the season, Tomasson may feel it best served to keep him in Rovers’ ranks.

Particularly with the current make-up of the squad, he feels he can have a role to play in the league.