Following on from our preview, @roversillitoe92 gives his view ahead of tomorrow’s game
Rovers’ decision to call off the home fixture with Fleetwood Town due to international call ups, more than a fortnight ago, has only fuelled optimism and excitement ahead of a local-ish League One clash with Rochdale.
A stuttering start to proceedings frightened some sections of the Rovers support in to complete disbelief. Not the start many thought possible. Zero points in the league along with a sense of same old at Ewood Park. What next? Step up manager, Tony Mowbray.
The manager rolled the dice with team selections and tactics, boy did that pay off! What we saw in the coming days at Bradford and against MK Dons as well as Stoke U21’s was much more like it. Six goals scored by four different players, a striker re-inventing himself, another who got his dream debut and amongst all that, a clean sheet too!
A corner had been turned. Six points in the league to break even and an opening success in the Checkatrade Trophy. The manager quite rightly deserved his more positive write ups after the aforementioned stuttering start.
Which brings everyone here to present day, ahead of the latest League One assignment. To the home side Rochdale. A slow start for former Rover Keith Hill’s side. From most accounts so far this season they’re a plucky, scrappy and determined bunch of players and their results back that up.
Similar to Rovers their opening day ended in defeat, losing 2-0 away to Portsmouth. They ran one of the league’s early pace setters Shrewsbury close before going down 3-2 away from home.
But, despite Rochdale sitting in the league’s bottom four, they have picked up unexpected points so far this season. Most expecting the very much fancied Scunthorpe to turn Dale over, they failed to do so drawing 0-0. Rochdale’s last two fixtures have also ended that way. Both goalless, first at home to the old enemy Bury then away to Southend United.
It’s fair to say they are also disciplined in defence. After early season defeats, they are unbeaten at home and although lack goals, Rochdale are very canny at keeping them out. With a wealth of strength in numbers of defensive options, its no wonder they’ve mastered their keeping out routine against some of the fiercest attack minded sides in the division.
Are we one of those sides that I’d put in the category of fiercest attack minded sides? Absolutely. Whether it be the inspiring Dominic Samuel or the aspiring Joe Nuttall. Whether it be the experienced Danny Graham or the fairly inexperienced Marcus Antonsson. We have goal scorers and that’s before we get to our midfield!
Given the stats and evidence its fairly predictable that we’re going to see an attack vs defence type of game. Much like the Dale faithful have seen this season at the now newly named Crown Oil Arena, (whatever happened to tradition!) a plucky, scrappy and determined kind of performance.
The Dale aren’t easy on the eye but they won’t be in the bottom four forever. They’ve got a plan for every game. When facing the heavily fancied sides they come out with a lot of success. Keith Hill knows this division very well and Rovers have to be up for it from the start. Otherwise we’re going to have another Southend or Doncaster kind of afternoon.
This is exactly the type of game the gaffer has spoken about in this division. It has all the characteristics that we expect. The postage stamp like pitch, the crowd on top of you, the culture shock, the smaller changing facilities and the rather cold shivery Spotland welcome from the locals.
This is a game where Rovers should show their superiority. The extra work on the grass, the quality brought in and the quality we have retained. This game gives us a real opportunity to send out a message to say we’re Blackburn Rovers and we’re not messing around. We’ve come here to win and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Not necessarily by a 0-3 or 0-4 scoreline, Rovers could very well find themselves winning by the odd goal but its about the attitude and principle on how we win. This is a challenge we’re going to face more and more as the season progresses. Particularly if we continue our new found success.
The challenge of breaking nine men down who sit disciplined behind the ball, the physicality that brings, the mental power we’re going to need to get past that. All the positive attributes we’ve seen of our game recently must be applied to overcome this latest challenge.
Ultimately, the individual quality and team spirit we’ve seen in recent weeks should be enough but without the correct attitude nothing will be achieved. It’s safe to say Tony Mowbray and the Rovers players will be doing everything they can to send over three thousand Rovers fans singing their names and with another three points towards our ultimate goal.