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D3D4 Blackburn fan Tim Bell takes stock of what has been a pretty good half season for Rovers in League One…

site dedicated to all things League One & TwoBLACKBURN ROVERS

When the season began, many of the fans of Blackburn Rovers referred to the upcoming campaign as a race to the finish, or a knockout fight. All metaphors aside, the season has been every bit as challenging as we figured it would be, with times of utter frustration, followed by spells of elation. Thankfully, those moments of frustration have been few, indeed.

As the season began, it appeared our fans need not worry about promotion, but about survival in League One. With all due respect, clubs that Rovers’ fans felt unconcerned about, Southend and Doncaster, gave the Rovers a needed wake-up call, with two crushing defeats, by scores of 2-1 and 3-1. Welcome to League One, Blackburn!

Round One, went to League One.

As with championship fights and races, the campaign did not end with the first bell, or the first lap around the track. Those first two matches only revealed that the Rovers needed to roll up their sleeves, and get to work. If any lessons were learned, we discovered that the club motto, Arte et Labore, would need to be applied to the 2017-2018 season.

Tony Mowbray had put together a decent Rovers’ side, and as the season progressed, the talent that he had assembled to face the grueling League One knockout fight (ah, those pesky metaphors again!) began to show Blackburn Rovers were up to the challenge. Rovers won their next four, by strong offensive showings, as evidenced by their 4-1 and 3-0 wins over MK Dons and Rochdale, respectively, as well as rock-hard defense, displayed in 1-0 wins over Bradford and Scunthorpe.

Round Two, to Blackburn Rovers.

But, with any competition, there needed to be some bumps taken and lessons learned. Rovers suffered a 0-1 defeat at the hands of AFC Wimbledon, and four games later, the same score at Boundary Park at the hands of Oldham. In between was a decent run of two wins and a draw, but only 4 goals total, none by the same player.

Round Three, to League One.

You can see at this point, the metaphors and trite comparisons aren’t going away. Back at Ewood, Rovers got an added time goal from Bradley Dack to draw with Plymouth (more to be said about this game later). The next contest was vs Portsmouth, and it was anticipated Pompey would give us all we wanted, and would be a mighty test, two warriors battling it out to the finish (ah!). But, this proved to be a technical knockout, as Bradley Dack scored before halftime, Danny Graham at 58’, and Craig Conway putting it on ice at 90’, as Rovers prevailed, 3-0.


Round Four, Blackburn Rovers.

Rovers’ trip to DW Stadium on October 28 proved to be a bumpy, but still profitable, ride, as Rovers secured a hard-earned point, with a 0-0 tie. Both fighters were bloodied and bruised, but still standing at the end, and if anything, we learned Blackburn could go toe-to-toe with their near neighbors, and still be threatening for one of the playoff spots, if not challenging for automatic promotion.

November and December were good months for Blackburn Rovers, as following a 2-2 tie to Fleetwood, Rovers won six consecutive, scoring 18 goals in the process, and allowing only seven. The six dominoes to fall were Bury, Oxford, Bristol, Blackpool, Peterborough, and Charlton. In workmanlike fashion, Rovers displayed both skill and hard work, as Mowbray’s offensive prowess began to fully display its power, with eight different goal-scorers providing the fireworks.


 

Round Five, Blackburn Rovers.

Since then, Rovers have compiled a decent amount of points, winning two, and drawing three. Little did we know that on October 17 vs The Pilgrims, Rovers would begin a run of 15 undefeated in League One play, that has continued to this good day.

Mowbray’s Blue & White’s have risen to number 3 on the table, with some great offensive showings, 2nd in League One in points (48), and goal differential (+24). Meanwhile, the defence has put up some stout performances, with 10 clean sheets, by the halfway mark of the season.

Individually, David Raya Martin has been excellent in-goal, surrendering three only once, in that early season spanking at the hands of Doncaster. Ryan Nyambe, Derrick Williams, Charlie Mulgrew and mostly Elliott Ward have provided the muscle. Mulgrew’s 10 goals have been a huge bonus. In the midfield, we’ve seen creativity and skill, with Bradley Dack’s 10 goals. Richie Smallwood has been a good addition to the squad, and holdovers Elliott Bennett, Craig Conway, and Corry Evans have been solid. Up front, Dominic Samuel, Danny Graham, and Marcus Antonsson have been reliable, scoring 17 goals between them.

The metaphors are nearly at an end. As with any race, or prizefight, we know it isn’t over when it suits us, but at the final bell, or the final lap around the track. We are encouraged by the season to this point. But, we know there is much work yet to be done. The competition has not laid down, and the backstretch of the season will be every bit as challenging as the beginning. But, the satisfaction of knowing that Blackburn Rovers are in position at this point to vie for a playoff spot, or perhaps, an automatic promotion, are encouraging, indeed.

 

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