Mark Whittle discusses the talking points as Rovers concede late to draw with Luton Town…
A dramatic end to a crazy game at Ewood!
As I was walking away from Ewood after the match, I thought to myself that must have been one of the craziest matches I have been to or seen for a long time. They were no shortage of drama that is for sure.
After a slow start to the game, it came to life with Rovers scoring two goals in four minutes, after a couple of good moves followed by well-taken finishes by Dolan and Pickering. At 2-0, I thought it would just be a case of how many would we score. We looked in complete control. How Rovers did not score in the second half is beyond me – we just are not clinical enough when needed to be.
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The one thing I cannot fault with this side though is the commitment and endeavour shown by the players. I feel this young team just need to learn how to get the job done and get over the line in games like this one.
Once Luton scored their first goal, with a little under 20 minutes left, I am sure many Rovers fans like myself were thinking the worst was to come, and so it proved it the 98th minute – our failure to kill the game off and put the visitors to the sword was Rovers’ undoing. I was just walking down the steps of the Riverside stand when Luton put a long ball into the box, and it was like slow motion when Luke Berry scored his second of the afternoon and grabbed Luton an unlikely share of the spoils.
I was in complete disbelief, and it felt very much like a defeat.
You’re not fit to referee
As for the officials, that must be, by far, the worst refereeing performance I have witnessed, and there have been some shockers in recent years. The referee was poor for both sides, not just Rovers.
Lenihan was extremely lucky to escape a sending off with his challenge early on, and that challenge by Lenihan was just the start of a heated encounter between the two sides. Mr Langford completely lost all handling of the match – and in another bizarre twist, he had to pull up injured himself in added on time.
That pretty much summed up the afternoon events. Nine yellow cards were produced in total, but in truth, there could easily have been two or three red cards.
Pick that one out
Since his arrival at Ewood, there have been one or two question marks about Harry Pickering so far this season.
I think it is fair to say he has not been the best defensively, but I felt it was his best performance for Rovers to date as he looked better than he has when defending. Offensively, he has been a threat in matches and again against Luton, he got into some good areas. and he scored his first Rovers goal, and a good goal it was. In another lovely move, Ben Brereton Diaz played a pass into Pickering, who finished like a proven goal scorer with his shot across Luton ‘keeper Sluga.
With the arrival of Tayo Edun from Lincoln City on deadline day, it will be interesting to see if Mowbray continues with Pickering at left-back ahead of Edun. Tayo is a versatile player though, so the prospect of the two playing on the left side could be an exciting one.
Tyrhys Dolan deservedly got the man of the match award. He epitomises what this young squad is all about. He works his socks off, and he plays every match like he is loving being out there. It is a joy to watch. Whether he starts or comes on from the bench, he gets on with it and gives his all. That is all we can ask for as supporters.
With the failure to replace Adam Armstrong on deadline day, Rovers will need to look within to replace those goals across the team. This team will always create chances. Brereton-Diaz and Gallagher have so far contributed, if Dolan can finish like the goal he scored against Luton, then hopefully we will see him on the goal sheet much more often.
It was disappointing not to get the three points but we go again on Tuesday night when Hull City visit Ewood.
Thanks for reading.