After consolidating their place back in the Championship last season following promotion from League One, Blackburn Rovers have continued their upward trend with a strong campaign all round so far.
Until recently, Tony Mowbray’s side had been in the reckoning for a push towards the Championship’s Play-Offs, but a difficult spell since lockdown has seen those hopes eroded for another year.
Nonetheless, Rovers will be hoping for the strongest possible end to the season with a win against the Royals at Ewood Park this weekend.
Here’s how Blackburn’s campaign has unfolded, so far…
An inconsistent introduction to 2019-20
Back-to-back defeats to open the season were quickly followed by back-to-back wins for Rovers, with clean sheets against Middlesbrough and Hull City getting Blackburn on the board for the season ahead.
Lewis Travis helps Rovers keep a shut-out against Hull
It wouldn’t take too long for Blackburn to ease into the campaign, however, earning points on a regular basis as Mowbray’s side looked competitive from the off this season.
Goals from Bradley Dack and Rovers’ top scorer, Adam Armstrong (who now has 14 to his name this season), gave Rovers a win over the Royals in the reverse fixture at Madejski Stadium back in September.
Mid-season form ignites Play-Off push
After a lean patch of six matches without a win, Rovers’ season quickly turned around when they hit a purple patch in the winter months.
Having been in a comfortable mid-table position, Rovers propelled themselves up the standings with six wins in eight matches - taking scalps from promotion hopefuls Brentford, Derby County and Bristol City in that run.
Bradley Dack celebrates his winning goal at home against Brentford
Rovers lost talismanic talent Dack - who had scored 10 times in 24 appearances - to an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the season’s halfway mark, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign. Their progress was not significantly halted, however, as Mowbray’s side continued to pick up points throughout a typically frenetic Championship campaign.
Tailing off after lockdown
A 3-1 victory against Bristol City in Rovers’ first encounter after lockdown saw Mowbray’s men poised to take the fight to the top six - sitting just one point and one place away from the Play-Offs as the season restarted again.
However, consecutive defeats against Wigan, Barnsley and Leeds put paid to Rovers’ realistic hopes of forcing their way into the Play-Off picture - with a loss last time out against fellow promotion hopefuls, Millwall, mathematically ending Blackburn’s chances of a place in the Premier League for another year.
Play-off hopes dashed in a defeat to Leeds
Mowbray’s side are a club on the up, however, showing strong signs of progress in their second season back in the second tier.
Both sides could be forgiven for playing with one eye on next season this weekend, with Championship status secured for both the Royals and Rovers for another campaign. It’s set fair to be an entertaining clash, however, so it’s not a game to be missed at Ewood Park this weekend.
How they last lined up...
Blackburn Rovers: Walton, Bennett (c), Lenihan, Adarabioyo, Rankin-Costello, Travis (Holtby 69), Johnson (Buckley 80), Downing (Davenport 80), Samuel (Rothwell HT), Graham (Gallagher 46), Armstrong.
Unused subs: Leutwiler, Nyambe, Brereton, Carter.