Rovers reporter Rich Sharpe picks out three talking points after the defeat to Stoke City.


While the focus before kick-off was on the absence of Bradley Dack from the starting line-up, arguably the biggest surprise was Lewis Travis dropping to the bench.

It is something Tony Mowbray has done before, with Travis on the bench against Preston before returning against Wigan four days later.

And it surely has to be the case again on Tuesday, with the 21-year-old having got closer to Stoke City midfielder Peter Etebo than any of his counterparts before his arrival.

Travis brought energy to the middle of the park, with Rovers having conceded ground a little too easily before his arrival.

The 21-year-old may lack some tactical understanding at times, but he’s been Rovers’ stand-out, and most consistent performer of 2019. With most thoughts already focused on next season, here is a player who has to be a big part of the plans moving forward, and not to see him start was strange.


Rovers failed to score for a fourth home game out of their last five, and have scored in the first half at Ewood in five of their 20 home fixtures.

As they did against Middlesbrough, as best they could with 10 men, and Preston last month, they came out for the second half trailing, and certainly dominated territory and played with a greater intensity.

But they have struggled for goals, and to also look threatening. It felt desperate at times, with the crossing again a particular disappointing.

Rovers aren’t being outclassed at Ewood, and are certainly giving their all. But turning that pressure in to goals, or at least chances, has proven beyond them.

Without top scorer Dack they struggled to get support to Danny Graham, while Joe Rothwell’s influence after a bright start dwindled. And with Ben Brereton the only real attacking option on the bench, there was little room for Mowbray to manoeuvre.


Goalkeeper David Raya said pre-match that he wanted to prove his critics, including boss Mowbray, wrong with some positive performances.

Here, he made two excellent saves, but then it is his shot-stopping that hasn’t been behind the criticism.

He moved smartly, and quickly, to his right to keep out Bojan’s penalty, while diving to the same side in the second half, he brilliantly palmed away a Sam Vokes header.

There are few players at the club guaranteed of a starting spot next season, and while Rovers should look to provide more competition to the 23-year-old with the addition of a goalkeeper in the summer, Raya is definitely someone worth persevering with.

He could be the player to have learned most from a full season at this level.