Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out four talking points from the midweek defeat at Reading. 


No team in the division averages fewer crosses in to the box this season than Rovers. At Reading, they put 21 balls in to the opposition penalty area, six more than their average. Only four found their target, following on from a one in 12 conversion rate against Bristol City.

Crossing from the wide areas becomes more difficult without Danny Graham, but it was disappointing to see balls constantly floated in to the arms of Reading ‘keeper Emi Martinez, or behind for a goal kick.

Rovers’ game-plan of pressing Reading high up the pitch worked well, the Royals regularly failing to play through the squeeze. Twice in the first half Corry Evans won the ball high, leading to chances for Adam Armstrong who was denied by Martinez.

For all their control and territory though, Rovers couldn’t carve out too many clear-cut openings, and were made to pay at the back when Amari’i Bell failed to deal with a bouncing back down his side, while Jack Rodwell failed to deal with a 60 yard diagonal to Nelson Oliveira who was then afforded too much time to shoot beyond David Raya.


Mowbray hinted at changes before the game and made four in total.

Graham, as so often in a three game week, was rested, while Bradley Dack, having not looked 100 per cent against Bristol City, dropped to the bench. For the second successive game, the left backs switched, while Harrison Reed, whose tank looked empty towards the end against Bristol City, was also among the substitutes.

Mowbray’s three man midfield helped with the high intensity press, while a front three of Brereton, Armstrong and Conway showed promise.

As Joe Rothwell claimed an assist off the bench, it can’t be too long before he’s one player given the nod from the start. He has made 25 appearances this season, but just five as a starter in the league. He has played a total of 954 minutes which is 75 fewer than Craig Conway, who has featured 20 times.

Now is the time for Rovers to work out who is able to help take the club forward. There is the chance for players such as Brereton and Rothwell to be given extended runs in the team. Adam Armstrong has stood up and proven he can take some of the goalscoring reliance away from Graham, Dack and Mulgrew.

It is now the turn for one of the fringe attackers to step forward and provide the ammunition. 


Since the 1-0 win over QPR on November 3, Rovers have lost eight of their next 16 Championship fixtures having lost three of their opening 15. In that time, they have won five times, four during successive January matches, but those seem a long time ago.

Rovers won’t want to let their season simply fizzle out, falling to their lowest league position since the opening two weekends. The league remains tight and they are just three points behind eighth-placed Birmingham.

Their faint hopes of a top six finish are now all-but over, though Mowbray admits the team raised the expectations levels with that January run. They won’t want to continue sliding down the table as they have however, falling six places in the space of 11 days.


Rovers went through the whole League One promotion campaign without suffering a defeat in midweek matches.

This time around, they have just two points from their five midweek matches, with three successive defeats.

They drew with Reading and Derby in August and September, before losing to Sheffield United and Swansea in October, and now Reading in February.

They will hope to break that curse when hosting Wigan in March and Derby in April.