League action takes a break for Rovers as the FA Cup returns to Ewood Park with the visit of League Two outfit Barnet on Saturday.
It will be a welcome relief for Tony Mowbray and the squad. The pressures of league games have been intense of late and some cup football could re-energise and rejuvenate everyone at the football club.
It was more trick than treat last Tuesday as Fleetwood put the fright up Rovers by coming back twice to earn a share of the points. That battling spirit is to be admired although the frustration is there for all to see in blue and white at the moment.
It’s just one win in the last five league games for Mowbray’s men with an alarming rate of drawn matches. Something that must change if they’re to achieve that they’ve set out. It’s a difficult one to call on why the team have come up short so far.
The postponement of the Walsall league fixture on 11th November may serve well and give Mowbray his final opportunity to get a good amount of time on the training ground with his players.
For now, it’s crucial that everyone focuses down on two cup fixtures in the coming days. Next Tuesday away at Rochdale in the Checkatrade Trophy, but before that, it’s FA Cup action against Barnet.
There has been a romantic relationship in recent seasons when it comes to Rovers and the FA Cup. In a season to forget last year, Rovers made it to the last sixteen of the competition where they faced Manchester United.
It was great to see Ewood Park packed and full of noise. Danny Graham did put Rovers in the lead in that game. The very foundations of Ewood Park rocked in celebration with a certain Jose Mourinho applauding the goal – the magic of the FA Cup summed up in just one short paragraph there!
Go back even further and Rovers have made it close to Wembley twice. Agonisingly beaten by Liverpool at the quarter-finals stage when it seemed destined Gary Bowyer was to get his dream of taking Rovers to Wembley.
A couple of seasons previous and Rovers missed out on Wembley again after losing in a replay to Millwall which saw David Dunn’s last hopes of making Wembley blue and white disappear.
This competition means a whole lot to the club and the traditions of those supporters. If it’s not the dream of Wembley anymore then a Premier League payday is what Mowbray and his players should be eyeing in a couple of rounds time.
It will be a far cry from that on Saturday as Rovers are involved at the first round stage for the first time in years. It’s crucial that the players pick up some much-needed confidence with the opportunity of a win there.
Barnet aren’t doing too much in League Two. Towards the bottom end of the table and like Rovers have recently drawn a lot of games. They’re a scrappy side who enjoy digging deep for the win and will relish the opportunity of playing the ex-Premier League champions.
It will be the first-ever meeting between Rovers and Barnet on Saturday so for those fans who have forked out a tenner to come down to Ewood at least, they’ll be part of a little bit of history.
On the pitch, Rovers will have it all to do. Rovers’ traditions run deep, their supporters love this competition and will want to see the team progress into Monday’s draw. Any kind of defeat will leave a lasting stench of defeat.
Tony Mowbray may well make changes, he might not go with wholesale changes but changes all the same. Whoever throws on the Rovers shirt should know their duty and get the all-important victory.
The opportunity is there for many on Saturday, to stake a claim in the side. There’s a downbeat atmosphere around the place at the moment and a couple of cup wins might just perk the players and fans up as we head into the winter months of the season.
A win certainly needed to put the hoodoo of draws well and truly behind us and cup progress could just be what the players need at this moment in time. A welcome distraction to the pressures of league football.
Enjoy the game.
Make sure you head over to our match centre to see all of our buildup to the FA Cup game with Barnet. Click here to visit the match centre.