Formation, subs and the Nutt – 3 talking points from Barnet

After Rovers picked up a 3-1 victory over Barnet, Cameron Deacon looks at the talking points from the cup tie.

The FA Cup is back and for the first time in 38 years, Rovers entered the competition in the 1st round – along with all non-league qualifiers and League 1 and 2 teams.

Blackburn was given a less romantic draw against League 2 Barnet, which would be the first time the 2 teams have ever played. Around 3,700 people were lucky enough to go and watch Rovers eventually win the game 3-1, even after going 1-0 down.

The game won’t be one of those FA Cup memories we’ll look back on in 20 years, but Rovers made sure, eventually, they got the job done.

These are three talking points from Blackburn vs Barnet.

Formation

When the line-ups were announced, I was quite surprised.

There was a lot of first-team players in the squad, whereas I had imagined that we would have picked a more youth based team. But what was really surprising was the formation that we played.

3-4-2-1?

It’s a formation that I have seen teams use, and Rovers did try 3 at the back for the first two games of the season – you can see how that went.

You could be tricked into thinking that we were playing 5 at the back, but Hart and Caddis were actually playing as wingers with Downing, Mulgrew and Williams acting as our back 3. But it really didn’t work…at all.

Graham once again demonstrated why playing him alone up front is a bad idea. He had no outlet, no-one making runs for him and was constantly forced to pass backwards. Blackburn really were limited with the opportunities in the first half and this wasn’t helped by the performances of Gladwin and Harper.

Obviously, you can’t jump on Harper’s back, the lad is only 17 and the fact that he has already made it into the West Brom first team speaks volumes in itself.

However, Gladwin cannot be defended. He has played a handful of games for us now and hasn’t really shown or added anything. He has a few pot shots a goal but beyond that absolutely nothing. He didn’t work well with Dack. and was really poor in the transition from defending to attacking. He looks knackered and can’t beat his man.

But that said, the formation didn’t work. I still don’t really understand why Mowbray played the half the way he did? Was it meant to work like a 5 at the back with attacking wing backs, or were Dack and Gladwin were meant to act as shadow strikers?

I’m not really sure, but in the second half when Nuttall came on for Hart and we switched back to a 4 at the back, let’s just say I was glad to see the back of that formation – and long may it never come back!

Substitutions

Mowbray has received some criticism for his substitutions over this season, but yesterday was different.

The substitutions that Mowbray made were perfect. They were attacking, positive and showed real intent in the second half – something that past managers have fallen short of doing.

Nuttall came on at the start of the second half and changed the game. It took him only 18 minutes to get on the score sheet, and he was involved in some way to every goal we scored, but more on him later.

Then Mowbray took Gladwin off. a substitution that should have happened 25 minutes earlier than it did. As soon as he went off, there was no looking back for Rovers – we had a proper front 3 of Graham as the middle-man with Joe [Nuttall] and Antonsson adding the pace either side.

That substitution effectively won us the game, it was all out attack and – realistically – we should have scored more but questions do have to be asked. Why, if Mowbray is willing to play Gladwin, Evans, Harper and Hart, is he less willing to start Nuttall?

What is making Mowbray so cautious about starting Nuttall?

Joe Nuttall

Surely, and I mean surely, he has done enough now?

He has scored in 3 of the 4 games he has played for the first team. The Nutt has scored against Stoke U23’s, against Fleetwood last Tuesday, and now against Barnet in the FA Cup. The man is a goal scoring machine!

His movement is brilliant, his strength is good and his finishing is first class. He’s not a teenager anymore, he’s 20 years old and he has, at least for me, done more than enough to deserve a start – especially over the likes of Antonsson or Gladwin who are still yet to pull their weight.

If he going to be pulled out of the youth squad, you have to start him. He could be the answer to a lot of our scoring problems. He might not be, but we are never going to find out if he constantly put on the bench. Our next match is away at Rochdale in the Checkatrade Trophy, and he has to start that game and secure our place in the next round.

It’s a chance for Nuttall to really show what he can do over 90 minutes, but the manager has to have already seen what an impact he has had at this point!


Thanks for reading. Click here to visit our match centre to see all of our reaction to the game, and to vote for your man of the match.