Blackburn Rovers will have their biggest backing of the season so far on Saturday as domestic action returns in Sky Bet League One.
Rovers will make the short trip over to Greater Manchester to face Oldham Athletic where they will be backed by 3,500 Rovers fans. Another example of unbelievable support on the road for Mowbray’s men.
What this suggests is very clear, the Rovers fans are 100% behind the players in their quest for promotion this campaign. It’s also news that spread very quickly around the training ground and will only heighten the players spirits going in to this one.
Before the international break, Rovers recorded back-to-back league victories over Rotherham United and Gillingham to give the home support some much needed joy. It saw Rovers climb in to the top six, before dropping out again due to other results last weekend.
Should Tony Mowbray decide to call the club’s next fixture off on an international break, this will mean that he and his players have around a month of football to play. The majority being home games and an opportunity to put points on the board.
However, the club start this period of the season off with a tricky away trip. It’s fair to say many Rovers fans will have looked at this fixture a few weeks ago and said it’s a certainty that this would be an away win – sadly, that’s not the case.
Oldham Athletic, since sacking John Sheridan, have recorded a hat-trick of wins against some of the league’s in-form sides. A league win over in form Peterborough was followed by a 1-2 win over Portsmouth. They ended their mini spell of form with a 0-1 win over Crewe in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Caretaker manager Richie Wellens has instilled some real spirit and belief in to the players at Oldham. They’ve looked very dangerous in many areas of the pitch and now have the form to boot.
The Latics, just like Rovers, took up the option of postponing their fixture last week due to international call ups so will be fresh and ready for the challenge of Mowbray’s men.
You would have to go back to the beginning of the 2001-02 season for the last senior competitive meeting between the two sides. That night, it was a comfortable 2-0 win in the Worthington Cup for Rovers who went on to win the competition that season.
You would have to dip further back in the archives to find the last league meeting between the Latics and Rovers. This came back in the 1993-94 season in the Premier League. Rovers running out 1-2 winners at Boundary Park with Alan Shearer getting both goals.
Comparatively, there are similarities between that fixture and now. A packed Boundary Park as the hosts welcomed a Rovers side on the up, a special afternoon for the size of the club. A highlight in Oldham’s season to host such a game – sound familiar?
As mentioned previously, Rovers will be taking their biggest following of the season so far. The team’s form particularly on the road and combine that with the club’s place in the table should be enough to excite any neutral.
Take that and put it up against the upturn in the Latics form, as well as the added excitement over a potential takeover and the fact it’s widely reported a local hero could take charge soon. Everyone could find themselves in the centre of one of the game’s of the season.
Write Oldham off at your peril. Tony Mowbray has come out in Thursday’s press conference and again said all the right things. He’s a man who loves to do his homework, he’s watched Oldham, studied them, found out what they’re good at and found out what they’re bad at.
One thing is for sure, the early season days of underestimating opponents is long gone. He will have the players disciplined on that, for sure. Underestimate Oldham and Rovers will find themselves on the losing side and with another bit of momentum lost.
It’s imperative given the large away backing that Rovers show all the qualities that they need to gain promotion. A willingness to fight and chase everything down as well as that bit of quality that sets Mowbray’s men away from the rest.
The game will be a difficult one to call. Oldham are in form but man for man Rovers should win but you just never know in this division. The visitors have found life tough going all too often so far and its important they apply the correct attitude to win.
One thing is a certainty, the near on 3,500 Rovers fans will be with their players yard for yard on Saturday. Giving them their backing and showing the manager, the players and everyone else watching just how big this football club is.
Enjoy the game.
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