WHEN Jordi Gomez’s injury-time free kick, whipped wonderfully and beautifully around a futile wall, rippled the back of the net it made the previous 90-odd minutes of toil worthwhile.

It was one of those priceless moments.


But, as Paul Lambert is only too aware, players who can conjure up something magical at the most opportune time come at a cost.

And, if Rovers are to make Gomez’s move permanent, they are going to have to stump up the kind of cash they have not since the summer that landed them in such a financial mess in the first place.

The club are still paying for the reckless mistakes they made in the market before the tumultuous 2012-13 campaign.

But in a division that gets more competitive by the year, Lambert knows Rovers need to start spending again on players of the quality that match-winner Gomez possesses.

That is why, after this vital victory, the Rovers boss once again stressed the need for it to be a big summer.

With Lambert having no intention of enduring another year of struggle, it is clear he wants the club to put a plan in place for next season.

But at 3.45pm on Saturday, next season was the last thing on the mind of fed-up home fans.

It may have worked out all right in the end but the insipid first half was a reminder of why inconsistent Rovers are not out of the woods yet.

Jimmy Armfield supposedly once said in commentary that Ewood Park can be more of a jury than a crowd.

And the Rovers faithful certainly delivered a damning verdict when they booed their side off the field at the break.

The reaction was unsurprising. The least supporters want to see is hard work.

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But it was not until after Lambert’s half-time dressing down, and tactical rejigging, that his players began to show what should be a prerequisite.

And, through Gomez, there was skill, too, the Spaniard bringing Rovers level with a classy header and then sealing back-to-back home league successes in the most thrilling of fashions.

His glory shot, far from removed from much of what had gone before it and made all the more special by the time at which it arrived, got his team out of jail. 

But, in reality, the result was all that mattered.

And, as good as the displays were at Derby County and Middlesbrough, wins are the only way Rovers are going to put to bed lingering fears of relegation.

That said they are going to have to perform considerably better in tomorrow’s return showdown with Boro and Saturday’s derby at Burnley.

Lambert said afterwards that Rovers were still feeling leggy after the tough-to-take defeat at the iPro Stadium.

But while that was understandable — this was their fifth match in a run of 11 in 36 days — there was no excusing the complete lack of urgency they displayed in the opening period.

Having already hit the bar through Jake Forster-Caskey it came as no surprise when the Dons marched through the middle of the pitch and opened the scoring through Samir Carruthers.

Cue the first whistles of derision which only grew louder when Chris Brown wasted the best chance he will get to open his account for the club.

The striker, who has now gone 18 starts and 15 substitute appearances without a goal, copped the most flak.

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But Brown was not alone in falling way below the standard needed in the first 45 minutes.

And, when Operation Ewood Park Exercise sounded over the tannoy, there was a fair few in the ground who must have hoped it was their cue to leave.

But, credit where credit is due, in a difficult atmosphere, Rovers could have collapsed.

Instead they came out fighting in the second half, restoring parity through Gomez and then going in front through Elliott Bennett, whose first goal for the club was another finish that was harder than it looked.

However this would not be Rovers without making life difficult for themselves and, after Dean Bowditch and Dean Lewington passed up excellent opportunities to equalise, Alex Revell did exactly that after fellow substitute Josh Murphy easily skipped past Ben Marshall’s replacement Adam Henley.

But, just when the Dons seemed set to leave Ewood for the first time with the point they will feel they deserved, up-stepped Gomez.

Only time will tell if the Spanish stylist starts the 2016-17 campaign in the blue and white halves.

But, for now, Rovers are just thankful to have him.