Rovers closed the gap on second-placed Shrewsbury to just 2 points after a comfortable 3-1 win over the Shrews.
Two set-pieces from the skipper Charlie Mulgrew (on his 50th start for the Blues) and a Danny Graham strike were more than enough to see off the visitors and put the push for promotion back on track.
Charlie Mulgrew did his usual thing and curled a free-kick off the near post and into the net on 14 minutes before a controversial Jon Nolan penalty saw the visitors draw level going into the interval.
Danny Graham’s effort on 60 minutes but Rovers back firmly in the driving seat before a Mulgrew penalty finished off an impressive victory.
5 influential first team players were back into the starting XI after last week’s FA Cup defeat to Hull. Raya, Dack, Smallwood and Graham all took their place in the side while Paul Downing made his first start as a fully-fledged Rover after making his move from MK Dons permanent during the week.
Dean Henderson in the Shrewsbury goal was called into action early on as he did well to keep out shots from Graham and Dack, but he couldn’t quite get enough on Mulgrew’s 25-yard curled free-kick as it went in off the post.
Against the run of play, Shrewsbury were level. The referee adjudged Raya to have brought down Carlton Morris, and Jon Nolan sent Raya the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-1.
Shrewsbury grew into the game after the goal, but neither side could fashion any real opening as they went into the break drawing 1-1.
After the break, Rovers had the ball in the net again from Paul Downing, but the referee pulled back play for a foul after Graham fouled in the build-up.
Shrewsbury almost made the Blues pay soon after as they launched a counter-attack that didn’t get the finish it deserved as the ball went comfortably out of play.
Rovers did eventually get the goal they deserved after Graham emphatically smashed the ball home after Dack’s effort on the turn cannoned back off the upright.
After this, it was all Rovers with the 13,000-strong crowd getting behind the players to push them over the line. Making his debut off the bench, Adam Armstrong almost made it one to remember as he came within inches off getting a goal after directing a Samuel cross towards goal, but Henderson somehow prevented it crossing the line and Rovers’ lead wasn’t doubled.
Less than 2 minutes later and Rovers did finally have a 2-goal cushion as Henderson brought down the onrushing Samuel, leaving Mulgrew to calmly slot the spot kick into the Blackburn End goal to send the Rovers faithful wild.
Shrewsbury had chances to try and make it a nervous final few minutes for Mowbray’s men but they march on after a crucial victory at Ewood to pile the pressure on the top two.
Rovers’ next game is the trip to Fleetwood Town next Saturday, where they’ll be backed by a sell-out away crowd of 1,125 fans.
Thanks for reading.
We also asked on Twitter for your thoughts on the game.
Here’s a small collection of your replies.
Thoughts on the game, #Rovers fans?
Reply and we'll include the best replies in our review!
— roverschat.com (@rovers_chat) January 13, 2018
Most important win of the season so far; stopped our recent slide and put a dent in Shrewsbury's confidence. Need to follow this up with some more wins, need to get in the top 2 ASAP.
— Ben (@benwilkinson_11) January 13, 2018
Great 3 points, not only for us but a defeat for Shrewsbury will put a huge dent in their confidence… theyll be starting to ask themselves if they are strong enough to keep their promotion bid on track
— James Devonald (@JamesDevonald) January 13, 2018
Great game today #promotion
— Robert Greenwood (@Rob_greenwood7) January 13, 2018
Intensity was the key! If we bring that sort of intensity to every game we’ll win the league, great win 👍🏻
— Darren Kay (@Darren_J_Kay) January 13, 2018