Rovers’ monthly review – November

The month of November saw Blackburn Rovers involved in two separate Cup competitions & four Sky Bet League One fixtures.

Mowbray’s men gained 12 points from a possible 12 available. So, let’s take a look at Rovers’ fortunes for this month.

Rovers 3-1 Barnet – FA Cup – 4th November 2017

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Click here to read our review of the Barnet game.

Rovers started off November by getting their FA Cup campaign underway at home to perennial Sky Bet League Two strugglers Barnet. Once again the Bees were down at the wrong end of the table but manager Rossi Eames was hopeful his side could cause an upset on their first ever visit to Ewood Park.

Rovers failed to deliver in an underwhelming first half & went into the interval trailing 0-1 thanks to a Simeon Akinola goal in the 31st minute.

The second half, however, proved a different story as two substitutes played a key role as Rovers scored three without reply. The equalizer came on sixty-three minutes when Joe Nuttall bagged his second goal in successive games following good work from Bradley Dack. Seven minutes later it was 2-1 when Danny Graham fired home from an acute angle & Marcus Antonsson sealed the win nine minutes from time to book a place in round two.

While the first half was a poor affair, Rovers showed their quality as their lower league opponents tired in the second half & the substitutes turned the tide in the home teams favour with Joe Nuttall once again impressing after his introduction from the bench. Rovers now host Crewe Alexandra in the FA Cup Second round on Sunday.

Rochdale 1-1 Rovers (Rochdale win 5-3 on penalties) – Checkatrade Trophy – 7th November 2017

Click here to read our review of the Rochdale game.

Rovers finished their final Checkatrade Trophy group game with a trip to the Crown Oil Arena to take on Rochdale. The visitors were hoping to record a second win at Spotland this season having triumphed 3-0 in the League 1 fixture back in September.

The first talking point of the match arrived just before the half-hour mark with Scott Wharton being sent off for Rovers after a high boot on Joe Bunney.

Rovers responded just before the break & took the lead when an Elliott Bennett cross was volleyed home by Joe Nuttall, a third successive strike for the Rovers No.38. Two chances came and went in the second period, and Rovers were made to pay in the 72nd minute when a left-wing cross was headed on into the path of Jordan Slew and the Rovers reject slotted home to send the game to penalties.

Sam Hart and Elliott Ward converted their spot kicks with the score 2-2 after two penalties each before Slew scored a third for Dale. Richie Smallwood missed Rovers’ third penalty & despite Elliott Bennett levelling the scores again, the hosts converted their two remaining spot kicks to send Rovers out of the competition.

Whilst it is disappointing to see Rovers exit the Checkatrade Trophy at the group stages, the youthful lineup in these fixtures shows that promotion to the Championship is the priority and this competition will be seen by most Rovers supporters as a distraction.

One positive in the competition was seeing some of the youngsters given game time to see if they can step up to first team level on a more regular basis.

Bury 0-3 Rovers – League One – 18th November 2017

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Click here to read our review of the Bury game.

As a result of the home game with Walsall postponed due to international call ups, the next game of November saw Rovers take 3,600 supporters to Gigg Lane (also known as the Energy Check Stadium) to face a Bury side who sat rock bottom of League One. The hosts also held a victory over Rovers having won 1-0 at Ewood Park in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Despite the home side having the better of the chances in the first ten minutes, it was Rovers who won the three points to cement their place in the top six.

Rovers scored with their first attack as Bradley Dack fed Marcus Antonsson and the Swede smashed home to put the visitors ahead on thirteen minutes. Ant & Dack were at it again on thirty-seven minutes as a superb cross from Dack found Antonsson in the penalty area and the Rovers No.20 headed home his second to send the travelling support into raptures.

Rovers continued to control the tempo in the second half and put the game to bed by adding a third goal on sixty-three minutes as Bradley Dack carried the ball from inside his own half and ran at the Bury backline before slotting home to clinch the three points.

This is a game where Rovers were rarely troubled and a game that saw Bradley Dack come to the fore with a man of the match display. The Rovers playmaker scored one & provided two assists as he ripped Bury apart with good runs & precision passing. The No.23 is starting to show his best form & will be crucial to Rovers as the season reaches its halfway point.

Oxford United 2-4 Rovers – League One – 21st November 2017

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Click here to read our review of the Oxford game.

The second away game in a matter of days saw Rovers make the long midweek journey to the Kassam Stadium to take on Oxford United, a side who like Rovers, are looking to make it into the playoff spots & victory would have seen the U’s leapfrog their visitors in the League One table.

The away side started like a house on fire & established a 3-0 lead inside the first twenty-two minutes of the match.

Barely six minutes were played and Rovers were 1-0 up as a cross from Bradley Dack was flicked on by Marcus Antonsson and Charlie Mulgrew tapped home. It was two on seventeen minutes as Dack won possession  his shot was saved right into the path of Antonsson and the Swede made it two.

Five minutes later, it was three from the penalty spot after Dack was fouled in the area, and up stepped the skipper Mulgrew. The No.14 smashed home his second to put Rovers out of sight.

Oxford replied through Jack Payne right on half-time but Joe Nuttall restored the three-goal lead, and even though Jonathan Obika completed the scoring, the points were secure and a second successive away win was achieved.

Not many teams will go to Oxford and get anything so for Rovers to go there and get the three points in a comfortable manner has shown that this side can go to tough grounds and get the wins in order to be up there in the top six.

Rovers 2-1 Bristol Rovers – League One – 25th November 2017

Click here to hear our review of the Bristol game

League football was back at Ewood Park as Rovers entertained Bristol Rovers. The Gas arrived at Ewood desperately searching for results having won just once in their last five games, a 2-0 win over MK Dons.

Rovers started in the ascendancy in the first twenty minutes and they felt aggrieved not to have a penalty when Derrick Williams appeared to have fouled in the penalty area, instead referee Ross Joyce ignored the pleas & play continued.

The visitors were unlucky to be in front after seeing an Ollie Clarke goal disallowed on twenty-eight minutes & hitting the woodwork on two occasions just before half-time. Rovers again had a penalty appeal waved away when a Corry Evans strike appeared to hit a Bristol arm, the referee, however, refused to award a penalty as the teams went in level at the break.

Rovers carved out the first chance of the second half as a Marcus Antonsson cross found Bradley Dack but the in-form Rovers No.23 could only see his shot sail just wide.

Just before the hour mark, the visitors opened the scoring through Ellis Harrison. The Bristol No.9 curled his strike into the bottom right-hand corner.

The response from Rovers was to bring Dominic Samuel & Danny Graham on for Joe Nuttall & Peter Whittingham.

Almost instantly the changes paid off as Samuel was brought down for a penalty and skipper Charlie Mulgrew tucked away the resulting spot kick. On 66 minutes, the comeback was complete when Graham’s knockdown found Samuel and the former Reading man headed in his sixth of the season to put Rovers into the lead. The home team were indebted to David Raya for keeping out a Liam Sercombe effort in the closing stages but Rovers held on for a third successive victory.

A sign of a good side is winning while not playing well. Rovers weren’t at their best but somehow dug out the result after going 0-1 down & the response was brilliant. The introduction of Dominic Samuel changed the game in Rovers’ favour & gave Tony Mowbray a selection headache ahead of Tuesday’s local derby with Blackpool.

Blackpool 2-4 Rovers – League One – 28th November 2017

Click here to read our review of the Blackpool game.

The final game of November saw a Lancashire derby at Bloomfield Road as Rovers made the short trip to take on Blackpool, managed by former Rovers boss Gary Bowyer. One common bond both sets of supporters share is the decline of their respective clubs as a result of bad ownership.

Rovers settled into the game after a bright opening from the hosts & took the lead on twenty-five minutes when a Kelvin Mellor back-pass was seized on by Marcus Antonsson & the Swede slotted past Ryan Allsop to put the visitors 1-0 ahead.

The lead lasted only four minutes however as Mellor made up for his error as he got on the end of a free kick from ex-Rovers loanee Jay Spearing to head home the equalizer. The hosts then had a flurry of chances to take the lead, first David Raya saved well from a Spearing free kick & a Sean Longstaff effort was cleared off the line by Derrick Williams.

Peter Whittingham & Elliott Bennett saw their efforts saved just before half-time but Rovers had their second goal with seconds of the half to go. A Longstaff clearance was charged down by Bradley Dack & the Rovers No.23 fired home to give Rovers the lead going into the break.

The visitors came out the traps in the second period as a Danny Graham header was saved & a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick went narrowly wide, Rovers were on top & nearly added a third goal on fifty-five minutes when Antonsson was released on goal but the post denied the Swede a second of the night.

A third goal did arrive eight minutes later through Charlie Mulgrew after Jay Spearing conceded a free kick – up stepped Mulgrew & the Rovers skipper smashed it home. The game was wrapped up four minutes later when Paul Downing poked home his first goal for the club following a goalmouth scramble.

Rovers saw out the game despite a Danny Philliskirk goal with fifteen minutes left to record a fourth successive win & climb to fourth in League One.

Rovers couldn’t ask for anything more with maximum points from four games, some of the goals could have been avoided but when you win four in a month I couldn’t care less about that.

It was good to see Rovers progress in the FA Cup & while they were knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy few will shed a tear about that as it’s a ridiculous competition with its format. Hopefully, we’ve set a marker down this month & push on higher in the table & gain automatic promotion. We’re only three points of second going into December so it’s possible.

Thanks for reading.

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