Rovers can forget about matching or bettering last season’s return of 15 clean sheets if this is the type of defending they are going to serve up.

Grant Hanley’s absence is already being keenly felt. Elliott Ward, for the 21 minutes he was on the pitch, did not look like he will be able to fill the captain’s boots, Adam Henley looked a fish out of water at left-back, and questions remain over whether captain Jason Lowe is the long-term solution at right-back.

Shane Duffy didn’t cover himself in glory either but, of the defenders at the club, his is the only name certain to be on the team-sheet.


That said Gordon Greer’s should be too if he can build on the showing he produced after coming on for Ward.

If there were any positives to take from a thoroughly depressing afternoon it was the performance of the substitutes.

Jack Byrne showed more in half-an-hour than most of his midfield team-mates combined while Stokes burst into life after a quiet pre-season with a lively display off the bench which he capped with a fine goal.

All three should start tomorrow’s EFL Cup clash at Mansfield Town. And why not throw a couple of the youngsters, Scott Wharton and Connor Mahoney, in too?

Lancashire Telegraph:


With season ticket sales down there were just 11,116 Rovers supporters in the lowest crowd recorded at Ewood Park (12,651) for an opening game of a season since August 1991. To think just six years ago, and mere months before the arrival of Venky’s would change the course of the club’s history for the worse, there were 25,869 packed into the ground for the 1-0 win over Everton which kick-started the 2010-11 campaign.

That was the last time Rovers started a season with a victory and from the moment Jacob Murphy crashed a stunning shot into the top corner it quickly became clear that barren run would continue.

Any set of supporters would have booed at falling three goals down in the space of 25 minutes and any set of supporters would have made their displeasure about such an abject display known at half and full-time.

But overall the Rovers fans stuck by their side, when in reality, they did not deserve that support.