Match report: Blackburn Rovers 1 Doncaster Rovers 0

Harry Forrester lets fly against Blackburn
Harry Forrester lets fly against Blackburn

It may have been a week of change at Doncaster Rovers but there was to be no alteration of the real business of the team on their trip to Ewood Park.

Four departures and one arrival in the week were followed by seven changes to the starting XI as Rovers hunted a change in fortunes.

Change brought a much improved performance and delivered another reminder that Rovers are a side not a million miles away from coping in the Championship.

What change did not bring was even a single point, nor any goals.

The most basic of the recent statistics are damning: No wins in nine, two points from 24 available, three goals in the last eight league matches.

The final of those three stats is the most telling and hammers home the need for Rovers to land a goalscorer in this transfer window.

Paul Dickov was frustrated in his search prior to the trip to Blackburn but remains confident he will be successful before Wigan come to town next Saturday.

If last weekend’s horror show against Stevenage provided the motivation for change, the events at Ewood Park will drive the hunt for a forward through to a successful conclusion.

After a lacklustre half, Rovers responded in the perfect manner, controlling possession after the break.

For all the possession and eye-catching intricate passing moves, there was little in the way of chances, be they clear cut or speculative, until a breathless conclusion when two top class stops from Paul Robinson kept Rovers out.

By then the damage had been done, the blow delivered before Rovers had really woken up.

It came in first half stoppage time, facilitated by another untimely defensive error.

The returning Bongani Khumalo mis-judged the flight of a high ball forward allowing Jordan Rhodes through in plenty of space to find Rudy Gestede who beat back-pedalling debutant Abdoulaye Meite and headed down past Ross Turnbull.

For the majority of the first half, Rovers were pushed back into their own territory and struggled to force their way out.

Former Sheffield Wednesday loanee Ben Marshall was a particularly potent threat for Blackburn on the left, up against makeshift full back Luke McCullough due to an injury to Paul Quinn.

McCullough struggled to contain Marshall, allowing him to craft several chances for both team mates and himself.

In McCullough’s defence, the support he got from the returning James Coppinger ahead of him was distinctly lacking in the first half, though it did improve after the break.

Both Harry Forrester and Chris Brown who he played just behind were left isolated as Rovers’ two banks of four were pushed back towards their own goal.

It meant that when they did win possession, it was difficult to mount any attacking response.

In the second half there was a marked improvement in Rovers’ performance but still little in the way of chances.

Forrester worked well in his advanced role, linking up well with James Husband on the left wing and Coppinger who regularly marauded from the right side.

Coppinger also linked up well with Richie Wellens but very few chances were created through any combination or individual brilliance.

Over the afternoon, it became apparent that Chris Brown may work too hard for his own good.

With very little making its way through to him in the final third, Brown as expected, dropped deep on the hunt for the ball.

While this ensured Rovers took possession in the opposition half, it left a gaping hole in attack that supporting midfielders could not fill.

Blackburn initially tested their aim from distance with Marshall lashing over from the edge of the box while Tom Cairney connected well with a Gestede knock down but sent his shot wide.

On-loan Hull midfielder Cairney really should have given the hosts the lead after nine minutes.

He arrived late to meet a cut back from Marshall which left Turnbull stranded but side-footed well over with the goal gaping.

The hosts had a strong shout for a penalty mid way through the half, perhaps denied due to the overly dramatic way Lee Williamson tumbled in the box.

Khumalo certainly had his hand on the former Sheffield United midfielder’s shoulder and there appeared to be a tug of the shirt just inside the box but referee Jeremy Simpson gave nothing more than a lingering glance.

It took almost half an hour for Rovers to produce their first real attempt of the game. Forrester brought the ball down 20 yards out but rushed his shot and scuffed well wide.

There were a few poor challenges on the afternoon and Husband was particularly lucky not to mark his return from injury with a red card after a late, studs-up challenge on Scott Dann.

Blackburn were getting closer and it took a superb stop from Turnbull at full stretch after Marshall cut inside a lashed a shot from 25 yards that seemed destined for the far post.

Just when it appeared Rovers would survive until the break, Gestede put them in front.

There was an immediate response from Dickov’s men after the break.

They began to use the wide areas better with Coppinger in particular a more lively presence.

Blackburn were a threat on the counter and Rhodes forced a decent save from Turnbull after bringing down a long clearance.

Dickov switched personnel and formation to give Rovers some much-needed presence in attack, sending on Alex Peterson for Forrester for a standard 4-4-2.

Service to the front men was still lacking however, until late in the game when former England keeper Paul Robinson turned hero for the hosts.

He produced a point-blank stop as Peterson powered a header from a Mark Duffy corner on goal.

And seconds later he made a fine save down low as Wellens connected sweetly with a Marc De Val ball over the top.

Had either Rovers man not connected so well with the two chances, there would have been a great chance of them drawing level.

Instead Dickov was left to reflect on the good response he demanded of his side but the continued lack of goals he will want to be quick to remedy.

Change is good but more is needed.