Roles reversed as question marks remain for Blackburn Rovers

The first was how they would react to their established team breaking up, another where the goals would come from without Ben Brereton and finally could they force the issue and find results by conceding first?

These all remain after a 1-0 defeat at Swansea City which have only two goals in their six league appearances in the calendar year.

The eight points earned came solely from lone strikes in wins over Cardiff City and Middlesbrough, a defensive record which had seen them keep nine clean sheets in 11 games at the convenience store in this form series.

It’s just five points amassed from falling behind, this Rovers side are well-prepared to press their advantage rather than their recuperative powers, while Tony Mowbray will feel his side bolstered by the imminent returns of Harry Pickering, Tyrhys Dolan and Sam Gallagher. .

In the end, Swansea won the game as many thought Rovers would, get an early goal and then sit behind the ball showing resilience and determination and seeing the opposition.

Four points were quite fortunately amassed from the two games Brereton missed due to his international schedule, but the efforts due to his absence with Chile meant Tony Mowbray thought an inclusion on the bench was most appropriate.

Brereton has already played more than 3000 minutes of competitive football since the start of the season, add his Copa America and World Cup qualifying commitments over the summer, as well as the long travel time, and the Rovers must carefully manage his workload.

As Mowbray said after the game, “he’s not a robot”. Still, Rovers remain dependent on his goals and need to find the balance between bringing him onto the pitch and not overloading him, which is where others need to step in.

New recruits Ryan Giles and Ryan Hedges have been thrown in early for their debut and will be among those expected to provide ammunition, but also get involved themselves.

While Rovers were mediocre in attack and worked to let the game drift too long after the red card, they still had golden chances to at least take something from the game.

The only disappointment being two fell on captain Darragh Lenihan and another on Scott Wharton in the second, although a player of John Buckley’s technical ability should have buried his first half.

Sam Gallagher will have watched from home, encouraged by the quality of the 23 crosses delivered by Giles from the flank, with Wolves loaning the pick of the pack to Rovers in an attacking sense.

However, there was no one to take advantage of, an endless stream of second-half turns worth nothing, with Rovers finding themselves frustrated and bewildered at how to break through what became a white wall of Swansea defenders .

Even though Rovers had played one game more than Bournemouth, it felt like a game in progress, a chance to drive an extra gap between them and the Cherries who were in the FA Cup.

It added to the feeling of a missed opportunity, especially after the red card in the second half.

What it did was turn the tables, it was the roles reversed.

These teams are at the top and bottom of the league possession stats table. Few would have predicted a scenario in which, for the final 37 minutes, plus stoppages, it would be Rovers heading the ball and looking to break down a stubborn Swansea defence.

The game swung completely to Ryan Manning’s red card, with the final stages reminiscent of last season and those endless 1-0 defeats as Rovers could find a way for all of their possession and territory.

While Rovers put 49 crosses into the box, Swansea only managed one, but that was telling.

Defensive effort has been the backbone of the positive results in recent weeks, which meant it was highly unusual that Jamie Paterson could float in a cross from the left to an unmarked Michael Obafemi to drive home at six meters.

There were looks at how it went, with Rovers seemingly stunned at the ease of the goal they gave up.

There were almost moments for Rovers in the first half, their tactic of winning the ball high up the pitch against Swansea’s total football almost paid off when Giles, played by Joe Rothwell, and Hedges, found by the pass from Lewis Travis, came close to find an equaliser.

Their best chance came to Buckley, only to fire from eight yards out after Lenihan’s header returned from the post.

When Manning received a second yellow card for catching Lenihan eight minutes into the second half, it gave Rovers the upper hand.

Brereton and Reda Khadra added 24 goals to a Rovers side that had just seven to start with, but the Chilean managed just four touches after his on-time introduction.

The corners ended, the territory went unexploited, before three late chances had to yield at least one goal.

A Giles cross bounced off Lenihan at the far post who fired unmarked from inside the penalty area.

The captain then fired a shot from just above before a delivery from Giles was met by a powerful header from Wharton, either side of Fisher and it would have brought a last-minute equaliser.

However, the rovers didn’t maximize the space on offer, running into traffic and dead ends too often, and they worked too long until those late occasions.

Rovers will feel the chasing pack coming, their job to hold them back with their destiny in their hands knowing they have those same teams to play in the weeks to come.

There is still a third of the season to go, plenty of points up for grabs, and Rovers are going to tick everyone off along the way.

The wins have put Rovers in this position and what will define their final position.

About Joel Simmons

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