Talking Points: Home sweet home, but can Rovers sort their away form?

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Following the 2-0 win over Reading that ended Rovers four-game winless run, Jonathan Secker looks at the key talking points.

After an hour of the game, I was starting to wonder if I’d have enough to write about. Fast forward 30 minutes, two goals and a clean sheet, and it’s a case of where do I start?!  

The formation

Once the team news was announced at 2pm, a collective sigh of relief was heard as Rovers resorted back to the 4-3-3 formation – the formation that has served us so well thus far this season – as well as fielding on paper our best available starting 11. The use of Gallagher as the main man down the middle proved the right choice as he put in a workmanlike performance, rewarded with the opening goal.

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For me (and my mate Simon who said this), the 4-3-3 and the personnel we started with (Pickering the only exception) works for us and is the one where we look most comfortable and able to pick up points – it’s the plan B we haven’t got quite right yet.

Home comforts

That’s seven home games this season, 4 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat. 16 goals scored and 8 conceded puts us sixth in the Championship home table – we all know it should be six wins and one defeat but let’s not dwell on that. Bar the West Brom defeat, we’ve scored at least two goals in each game with the front three of Diaz, Gallagher and Dolan accounting for 13 of the 16 goals.  

Long may this run at home continue. The return of fans to Ewood has no doubt helped, and I, for one, would love for Fortress Ewood to be back!

Time to shine 

Sam Gallagher took the much-maligned Peter Jackson man of the match for his goal and assist as he scored for the third home game in a row.  At the same time, several players stepped up to the plate to show their worth to the team. 

Joe Rothwell left the field to choruses of ‘Tony, sign him up!’ after another telling attacking contribution as he waltzed through the Reading defence showing Salah-esque footwork to create the opening goal. 

John Buckley again excelled in midfield, showing what we had missed in the midweek loss to QPR whilst also proving a reliable deputy at right-back once Nyambe departed. 

In addition, Jan Paul van Hecke slotted in well for the injured Ayala (whilst nearly adding his name to the score sheet), Dolan is adding consistency in his performances to his undoubted talent and Tayo Edun showed his versatility in an accomplished showing at left-back.    

Injury curse

One downside to the win was the loss of both Ayala and Nyambe to injury. 

From listening to Mowbray’s post-match interview, the hope is the Nyambe injury is just cramp but based on the injury track record of both, I do worry at least one of the injuries could be serious.

The performance of van Hecke makes you feel that we have an able deputy should Ayala face a prolonged period on the sidelines but I would love to see both Joe Rankin-Costello and Scott Wharton in the first team squad sooner rather than later.

Unpredictably predictable 

I’m sure we’ve played better than the Reading game and lost, we would have definitely been more free-flowing; but the ability to grind out wins in the Championship is nothing to frown at. 

This is even more true considering the bonkers nature of this league. 

After four games without a win (that’s one point from 12), the win against Reading took us back to within a point of the play-offs with the seven teams above us all locked on 21 points (our goal difference is better than all seven of them and only bettered by the top three).  With three games to go before another international break, let’s hope we can remain in and around the playoffs come 6 November at 5pm.

Thanks for reading.

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