Rovers manager Gary Bowyer has heaped praise on midfielder Tom Lawrence and expressed hope that the loan agreement with Leicester City could be extended.
As things stand Lawrence would go back to Leicester on 3rd January 2016, however talking to the press after the Thursday's victory against Leeds Bowyer said
â€œIâ€™ve spoken to Leicester quite a bit just to keep them informed of how heâ€™s doing,â€ he said.
â€œOn Thursday they saw for themselves. Theyâ€™re monitoring him but the lad needs to play games and heâ€™s happy here and settled here and Iâ€™m sure those conversations will carry on with Leicester.
â€œIâ€™d like to buy him if I could.â€
Lawrence and Rovers are back in action on Tuesday night as they take on Birmingham City at St Andrews.
Milton Keynes Dons 3 v 0 Blackburn Rovers - by Parsonblue
Milton Keynes Dons (1) 3
Reeves (penalty) 11, Church 71, Reeve 89
David Martin; Jordan Spence, Kyle McFadzean, Antony Kay, Dean Lewington; Jake Forster-Caskey, Diego Poyet; Rob Hall (Carl Baker 63), Ben Reeves, Josh Murphy (Samir Carruthers 86); Simon Church (Nicky Maynard 77).
Subs not used: Charlie Burns (gk), Lee Hodson, Sam Gallagher, Daniel Powell.
Manager: Karl Robinson
Blackburn Rovers (0) 0
Jason Steele; Adam Henley (sent off 9), Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson (Tommy Spurr 86); Ben Marshall, Corry Evans (Lee Williamson 68), Hope Akpan (Nathan Delfouneso 68), Craig Conway; Tom Lawrence; Jordan Rhodes.
Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Matt Kilgallon, John Oâ€™Sullivan, Chris Taylor.
Manager: Gary Bowyer
Referee: Mr. J. Linington
Bookings: MK Dons â€“ Diego Poyet, Rob Hall
Blackburn Rovers â€“ Hope Akpan, Ben Marshall
Sending off: Blackburn Rovers â€“ Adam Henley
The Rovers faced an uphill task from the tenth minute of this encounter â€“ being reduced to ten men and falling behind to a penalty â€“ but to their credit they dominated the opening stages of the second half until a second goal in the seventy-first minute settled the destination of the points.
The Rovers were unchanged for what was only their second visit to the stadiumMK and their first for a League encounter.
The Rovers received an early warning that the home side were not as poor as their League position would suggest when Rob Hall turned Grant Hanley and fired in a shot which Jason Steele did well to turn away for a corner.Â At the other end David Martin rushed out of his goal to clatter Jordan Rhodes to the ground when the striker looked to break away.Â Surprisingly, for such a cynical challenge, Mr. Linington failed to produce a yellow card but minutes later he produced a red with a certain amount of indecent haste.
The defining moment of the match came as early as the tenth minute when Mr. Linington awarded a penalty and produced a red card after Adam Henley and Josh Murphy had clashed as the latter entered the penalty area.Â Henley, in truth, was the architect of his own downfall when he got the wrong side of Murphy and then compounded the error by trying to block the on loan Norwich winger as he entered the area.Â The fact that Murphy was felled in the area was clear for all to see but less clear was the point at which the contact was first made.Â Of course, football continues to dwell in the dark ages and turns its back on the type of technology which so many other sports benefit from and so we continue to rely on the guesswork of numerous hapless officials.Â Hence we have goals punched in with the hand being allowed and â€œgoalsâ€ which cross the line being disallowed.Â In a multi-million pound sport it is embarrassing that such basic mistakes are allowed to determine the outcome of games.
With the spot kick being given, Ben Reeves stepped up and made no mistake as he sent Steele the wrong way and calmly slotted the ball home.
Bowyer made the necessary tactical changes following the dismissal of Henley which meant that Ben Marshall went to right-back whilst Tom Lawrence moved over to the right flank with Rhodes being asked to plough a lone furrow up front.
The Rovers took time to adjust to the changes and the home side tried to take full advantage of the extra man and only a deflection off Shane Duffy prevented Murphy from increasing the lead.
However, although MK Dons were closing down and harrying the Rovers when in possession chances were restricted as the Rovers began to get back into the game.Â Indeed, they might have been level if the officials had taken action when the arm of Anthony Kay clearly felled Rhodes in the penalty area.Â Inexplicably, neither the linesman nor the referee saw anything although it was a clear foul in the penalty area but, sadly, that seems to be the way the Rovers luck seems destined to go this season.
On twenty-two minutes Marcus Olsson lofted a ball into the box which Martin claimed with supreme confidence and then Lawrence was felled by Hall, who was rightly booked, as he looked to make inroads in the opposition half.
The Rovers were struggling to get to grips with Murphy and Marshall was having a torrid time trying to contain him.Â However, on thirty-seven minutes it was Jake Forster-Caskey who almost doubled the home sideâ€™s lead.Â Set up by Hall, Forster-Caskey fired in a well struck effort which Steele did well to beat away.
A minute later and play switched to the other end when Conway crossed to the far post but the ball was just too high for Rhodes to get sufficient power on his header to trouble Martin and the ball merely glanced off his head and went behind for a goal kick.
The Rovers found themselves in trouble again when Duffy was caught on the ball by Simon Church on the right of the Roversâ€™ area.Â Church brushed the centre-back off the ball and then went straight for goal before he curled his shot just wide of the far post.Â It was yet another individual error which could have proved so costly.
As the half drew to a close a shot from Murphy was deflected safely into the arms of Steele and the Rovers left the pitch having survived unscathed after playing all but ten minutes with ten men.Â Â Whilst there might have been little attacking intent to enthuse about the players had succeeded in staying in the game.
The second half brought a more spirited response from the Rovers in an attacking sense.Â Within the opening minutes, following good work from Hope Akpan, Conway had whipped in a cross into the area which Martin collected.
A superb move down the left, on fifty-eight minutes, involving Olsson and Akpan ended with the ball being pulled back to Conway but his shot was blocked and so too was an effort from Evans when the ball came out to him.
Another incisive move saw Evans find Conway on the left and his inch-perfect cross found the head of Rhodes who powered the ball goalwards only to see Martin make a save at point-blank range to deny him.
Olsson and Akpan again combined well down the left and Akpan cut into the area only for a last ditch tackle to prevent him from getting his shot away.Â Duffy then met a cross from Conway but although he headed the ball back across the goalmouth there was nobody there to get on the end of it for Rovers.
Conway then tricked his way inside from the wing but his shot was deflected wide of goal for a corner.Â Before the corner could be taken Bowyer made a double substitution with Evans and Akpan being replaced by Williamson and Delfouneso.Â Evans, who had missed the previous international with injury was carrying a knock, whilst Akpan was presumably withdrawn having already been booked and with Mr. Lingintonâ€™s officiating so erratic the manager clearly didnâ€™t want to risk another red card.Â Whilst the decision protected the players for future matches it proved to be the turning point in this particular game although the Rovers might well have been on level terms from the corner which had been delayed for the substitutions.Â When the ball came over Duffy met it with a powerful header which was cleared off the line by Forster-Caskey.
The new central midfield partnership of Williamson and Lawrence had barely time to find their feet before the home side doubled their lead.Â With the Rovers pressing for an equaliser it was always a danger that they would be caught on the break and so it proved.Â Murphy, not for the first time, left Marshall in his wake and then found the perfect centre for Church to head home from no more than six yards out.
Murphy then teased Duffy back into his own area before skipping past him with consummate ease but, fortunately, his shot flew just past the far post
Steele kept out a header from Nicky Maynard with a splendid one-handed save but, in truth, the second goal had ended the game as a contest andÂ it came as no surprise when MK Dons added a third goal in the final minutes.Â The third goal was the result some excellent one-touch play by Carl Baker and Forster-Caskey which enabled Reeves to get in behind the Rovers back line and beat Steele with ease.
Whilst the result was hugely disappointing from the Rovers point of view there were, nonetheless, positives to take from the performance, particularly in the second half.Â Once again the Rovers were left to question some refereeing decisions which seemed erratic to say the least although it has to be admitted that Henley contributed to his own downfall with some poor positional play.Â Defensively, the Rovers looked fragile at times with Duffy having a poor game and Marshall completely overwhelmed by the exemplary wing play of Josh Murphy.
In midfield the Rovers fought valiantly with Akpan taking the game to the MK Dons after the break and, in truth, once he and Evans departed the Rovers struggled to make any impact.Â Lawrence operated in three different positions and that seemed to lessen his impact whilst Rhodes as asked to plough a lone furrow up front and struggled at times to get into the game.Â Steele produced a number of excellent saves whilst Conway was always a threat down the left.Â However, this was an afternoon to forget for the Rovers as they now prepare for two tough games against two sides who are highly fancied to fill the promotion places come the end of the season.
Saturday 3rd October 2015 â€“ Football League Championship
Blackburn Rovers 2 v 0 Ipswich Town - by Parsonblue
Blackburn Rovers (2) 2
Rhodes (penalty) 12, Rhodes 16
Jason Steele; Adam Henley, Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley, Marcus Olsson; Ben Marshall, Corry Evans, Hope Akpan, Craig Conway; Tom Lawrence (Lee Williamson 90); Jordan Rhodes.
Subs not used: David Raya (gk), Tommy Spurr, Nathan Delfouneso, Chris Taylor, Sacha Petshi, Darragh Lenihan.
Manager: Gary Bowyer
Ipswich TownÂ (0) 0
Dean Gerken; Luke Chambers, Tommy Smith, Christophe Berra, Jonathan Parr; Larsen Toure (David McGoldrick 53), Cole Skuse, Jonathan Douglas, Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Brett Pitman 59); Freddie Sears, Daryl Murphy (Tommy Oar 82).
Subs not used: Bartosz Bialkowski (gk), Kevin Bru, Piotr Malarczyk, Josh Emmanuel.
Manager: Mick McCarthy
Referee: Mr. A. Marriner
Bookings: Blackburn Rovers â€“ Corry Evans, Grant Hanley
Ipswich Town â€“ Larsen Toure, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Christophe Berra
As the Rovers head into another of these interminable international breaks they do so in excellent spirits after a convincing win over one of the sides tipped to feature in the play-off places.Â However, on the day, Mick McCarthyâ€™s side had no answer to the high energy, pressing game which Rovers have combined with some exquisite football in recent weeks.Â The marked change in style since the departure of Rudy Gestede has taken time to reap the rewards that is has deserved, although those who watch them every week know that the performances have deserved far more than the points that have been accumulated thus far.Â Fortunately, the performances are now beginning to be rewarded with points as the Rovers climb away from the relegation zone to the calmer waters of mid-table.Â In a division which seems tighter than ever you are only ever a couple of defeats away from a relegation dogfight or a couple of wins away from a chase for the play-offs and so it is with both of the teams on view in this game.
With Danny Guthrie ruled out with injury, Gary Bowyer kept faith with Hope Akpan, who had been so impressive as a substitute at Hull, as his replacement in what was an otherwise unchanged starting eleven.
The Rovers made the perfect start with Akpan looking prominent in midfield.Â A surging run down the left wing saw the midfielder play the ball into Craig Conway before it was blocked by a defender for a corner.Â Marshall then had a shout for a penalty waved away after an effort seemed to have struck the arm of a visiting defender.Â However, minutes later Akpan picked up a loose ball in the area and was brought down from behind by Larsen Toure as he drove towards the goal.Â Mr. Marriner had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Jordan Rhodes sent Dean Gerken the wrong way as he coolly dispatched the penalty with only twelve minutes gone.
Four minutes later the Rovers had doubled their lead when Rhodes rose above Luke Chambers and met Craig Conwayâ€™s corner with a glancing header which beat Gerken and flew into the top corner of the net.
Ipswich responded after eighteen minutes with a free-kick which Ainsley Maitland-Niles merely blasted into the wall of blue and white shirts.Â However, it was the Rovers who were dominating possession and on twenty-two minutes another flowing move ended with Rhodes putting Marcus Olsson clear and the Swedish international lofted the ball over Gerken only for a linesmanâ€™s flag to rule the goal out because of a very close offside decision.
Another Ipswich free-kick was headed clear by Shane Duffy whilst Olsson and Conway combined down the left wing before Olssonâ€™s cross was headed clear.
The Rovers were putting Ipswich under pressure whenever they had the ball and nothing epitomised this more than the sight of Tom Lawrence running twenty-five yards or more to tackle Jonathan Parr as he dwelt on the ball.
In truth, the visitors looked completely inept in front of goal and a shot from Jonathan Douglas flew well wide.Â Indeed, it was hard to believe that the Douglas who was on show for Ipswich was the same man who had been such a dominant figure for Brentford last season.Â The former Rover looked slow and completely overwhelmed by the quick movement of Corry Evans and Akpan in the centre of the park.
Ben Marshall played in Conway but his shot was blocked for a corner which Grant Hanley headed wide under pressure from an Ipswich defender.
On forty-minutes, Conway fired a long range effort just wide and three minutes later an Akpan cross was just over Conway, who had dashed in at the far post in an attempt to reach it.
The closest that the visitors came to scoring was when Daryl Murphy struck a twenty-five yard effort with sufficient power that Jason Steele was forced to dive full-length to push it away for a corner which Akpan and Evans cleared between them.
Ipswich came out with a more determined approach in the second-half and put several balls into the Rovers area but Duffy, in particular, was outstanding and won everything that was thrown into the Rovers box.
The Rovers, with a two goal advantage, looked to soak up the early pressure and then hit the visitors on the break and they created several more opportunities.Â Lawrence and Evans had shots blocked whilst Olsson and Akpan both sent in crosses which proved to be just inches too high for their intended targets.
Once again, the Roversâ€™ players were looking comfortable in possession and using the ball intelligently to retain possession and move the Ipswich defence around.Â Rhodes was causing all sorts of problems with his movement and Christophe Berra struggled to get to grips with him without hacking or pushing him down.
The Rovers might well have scored a third when Evans played a lovely pass into the path of Rhodes who shot from the edge of the area only to see the ball strike the woodwork and bounce clear.
Berra, was eventually booked for yet another foul on Rhodes whilst Duffy raised a cheer when he charged forward before having his shot blocked.
On sixty-three minutes, Steele made another good save when he tipped a forty-yard effort from Luke Chambers away.Â However, at the other end Evans, who was having another outstanding game, played a lovely pass into the path of Adam Henley who had got in behind the defence and found himself in the area in a one-on-one situation with Gerken.Â Sadly, when Henley tried to fire the ball past him the Ipswich â€˜keeper made a save with his legs.
Rhodes then forced a corner which Hanley headed over whilst Rhodes sent in a bullet like header from a Conway free-kick which seemed a goal all the way until Gerken produced a wonder save to get fingertips to the ball and deflect it for a corner.
Rovers continued to work tirelessly at closing the visitors down and, although they were a little deeper in the second half, they were rarely troubled by an Ipswich side which looked a well beaten outfit by the end.
Undoubtedly, this was the most complete performance of the season and one which the manager and players deserve full credit for.Â Ipswich were out-thought and out-fought from the word go.Â Rovers continued with the rich vein of form that they seem to have found since that half-time interval at Craven Cottage a few weeks ago.
Jason Steele didnâ€™t have much to do but when called upon he was excellent.Â Adam Henley and Marcus Olsson proved to be a real handful going forward whilst they were sound in defence.Â Henley had a much better game than of late whilst Olsson again demonstrated that he is, without question, the number one left-back at the club.
Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley kept things tight in the centre of defence although Hanley had one or two moments of indecision.Â Duffy was outstanding in the air and won everything as he totally dominated the Ipswich attack.
It was in midfield where the Rovers really had the edge over their visitors.Â Corry Evans and Hope Akpan covered every blade of grass and both looked to get forward at every opportunity.Â Akpanâ€™s forward runs caused the visitors problems early on and led to the penalty from which the Rovers opened the scoring.Â Evans continually probed with a succession of clever passes which put his colleagues in behind the defence.Â Evans, at the moment, is showing the best form of his entire time at Ewood.
Ben Marshall and Craig Conway caused problems down the flanks for Ipswich and their ability to cut inside meant the defence was never quite sure what angle the ball would be delivered from.Â Both worked hard to help out defensively which gave Henley and Olsson the opportunity to use their pace to get forward.
In attack, Jordan Rhodes was simply outstanding.Â Not only because he notched another two goals, but the fact that his general play was so good.Â He bullied the Ipswich defence with his aggression and energy and his movement off the ball was first class.Â This was the performance of not just a goal poacher but a proper centre-forward and long may it continue.
Tom Lawrence proved an able support for Rhodes.Â His pace and clever passing caused Ipswich a number of problems and often he drifted off Rhodes to play in the hole and the visitors struggled to pick him up.Â Although a little lightweight, he plays with an intelligence that more than compensates for lack of physique.Â One can only hope that the Rovers can persuade Leicester to extend his loan as he could well be a key player for the club this season.
A word of praise too for the much maligned manager.Â Bowyer has had to reinvent the team following the departure of Gestede and now looks to have done so successfully.Â There is far more reliance on passing and working the ball through midfield rather than the long punt aimed at the front runner.Â The players he has brought in seemed to have enhanced this system and to some extent this is finally Bowyerâ€™s team following the departure of the likes of Paul Robinson and Leon Best in the summer.Â Whilst it is too early to say if they are capable of making up lost ground on the top six there is no doubt that they look more than capable of being competitive in the Championship.
Saturday 3rd October sees Rovers welcome Ipswich Town to Ewood Park for the fourth time since our relegation from the Premier League. Ipswich currently sit 7th in the table with 15 points, whilst Rovers occupy 18th spot having managed 8 points out of 9 games.
Despite an extremely poor start to the season, Rovers are finally beginning to show signs of life. Jordan Rhodesâ€™ return to the team and return to form has given the club a much needed boost, and Rovers finally claimed their first win of the season against a dismal Charlton side in our last home encounter. That 3-0 win was followed by a credible 1-1 draw away to Hull City, meaning Rovers have picked up 5 points out of the last 9 available. This has propelled the club to the lofty heights of 18th, but still only one point outside of the relegation zone.
Nonetheless, Rovers are picking up a little momentum at a time when Ipswich have lost theirs, making the East Anglian sideâ€™s trip to Ewood an interesting prospect and a match Rovers must aim to take all three points from.
Prior to this season, Ipswich and Rovers have found themselves in similar positions, generally occupying spots just outside the playoff places.
Managed by the experienced Mick McCarthy, Ipswich performed slightly above expectations last season and managed a 6th placed finish, sneaking into the playoffs. They were knocked out at the first hurdle by East Anglian rivals Norwich City, who would go on to defeat Middlesbrough in the final and secure promotion to the Premier League. The semi-final defeat was a bitter blow for Ipswich, but not wholly unexpected, with Norwich having a much stronger and vastly more expensive squad.
The club started this season well and topped the table in the early stages, carrying on their form from the previous season. After an opening day draw with Brentford, they went on to achieve impressive home victories against Sheffield Wednesday and the six-fingered ones, also beating Preston and hammering Doncaster 4-1 in the cup. However, their momentum has since stalled and a home loss to Brighton was followed by a 5-1 away thumping by promotion rivals Reading. Former Rover Nick Blackman had a fantastic match, getting on the scoresheet as Ipswich were humbled by their opponents. Despite beating Leeds 1-0 in the next match, Ipswich could only manage two home draws in their following league encounters against Birmingham and Bristol City. They were also dumped out of the League Cup, losing 3-0 to a strong Manchester United side. Ipswich have only managed 5 points out of the last 15, a return which has caused them to drop just outside the playoff places.
Daryl Murphy was the clubâ€™s talisman last season, notching 27 league goals during the campaign and helping to push them into the playoff positions. Despite signing a new contract during the summer, Murphy has found form and fitness difficult to come by so far this season. Last seasonâ€™s top goalscorer for Ipswich is yet to find the net this season, and has recently found himself on the bench as he regains match fitness. The Ipswich squad contains few recognisable names to the average fan, with McCarthy opting to build a squad of hard workers as opposed to big names. David McGoldrick is one of Ipswichâ€™s better known players, and despite having excellent spells of form, the experienced striker has found fitness hard to come by over the past couple of seasons. He managed 14 goals in the 13/14 season, but could only accumulate 26 appearances and score 7 goals in an injury-hampered 14/15 campaign. He has so far bagged 3 goals in the current campaign, with 2 in the league and 1 in the cup. Other recognisable names in the Town squad are veteran centre-back Christophe Berra and former West Ham United striker Freddie Sears, who has currently scored 4 goals in 9 appearances this term â€“ all in the league.
Town have been cautious in the transfer market over the last few years. Although in past seasons reclusive owner Marcus Evans backed Roy Keane and Paul Jewell to the tune of around Â£20m, it ultimately gained the club very little and before McCarthy took charge they were in danger of being taken down to League One under Jewellâ€™s stewardship. Having had his fingers burned, Evans has drastically tightened the purse strings at Portman Road, leaving McCarthy with the difficult task of improving the team on a shoestring budget. This summer saw promising young defender Tyrone Mings depart for Premier League new boys Bournemouth. He was Bournemouthâ€™s record signing at Â£8m, but would go on to break his leg on his debut, effectively ruling him out for the rest of the season.
McCarthy has seen little of the money gained from Mingsâ€™ sale, instead operating under the same tight conditions as previous seasons. A shrewd operator in the transfer market, McCarthy has secured former Bournemouth striker Brett Pitman on a free transfer, whilst picking up pacy young Arsenal winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Fraser on loan. Danish left-back Jonas Knudsen was snapped up for Â£350k, whilst former Rover Jonathan Douglas also joined the club on a free transfer at the age of 33. Relative unknowns Larsen Toure and Tommy Oar were also picked up on free transfers and have played some part in the campaign. Ipswich were buoyed by last seasonâ€™s top goalscorer Daryl Murphy and 27 year old striker David McGoldrick both signing new contracts in the summer.
Ipswich are the Championshipâ€™s longest serving team, having spent 14 seasons in the division since their relegation from the Premier League in 2002. Having overspent on ground maintenance and player wages during their time in the top flight, Ipswich found themselves in administration shortly after dropping into the second tier. Although still heavily in debt, the club came out of administration during the 03/04 season. Local businessman Marcus Evans would take over ownership of the club in 2007, providing new capital in a bid to revitalise the clubâ€™s fortunes.
The likes of Jim Magilton and Joe Royle were unable to take Ipswich back to the promised land, whilst Roy Keane and Paul Jewell very nearly condemned them to relegation. Since arriving at Ipswich, Mick McCarthy and assistant Terry Connor have gone about rebuilding the team under difficult circumstances and have slowly but surely implemented a rigid but effective playing style that has gradually pushed the club up the table and given the fans hope that promotion could be achieved in the near future. Financial restrictions make the task a tricky one, but in McCarthy Ipswich have a manager who knows how to get the best out of limited players and the ability to supplement the team with cheap, relatively unknown additions.
Town are one of few clubs in the league whose debt-level surpassed Rovers as of last published accounts, with the figure at that time standing at -Â£86m. With a higher wage bill and overall running costs, Rovers have likely since overtaken Ipswich in this area, though both clubs owe significant financial debts to their owners.
Ipswich are a team that prefer playing at home, often struggling on their travels. Last season Ipswich accrued 78 points, with 50 of those coming at home. Ipswich only managed 7 away victories last season despite finishing 6th. This season has seen some improvement. Although they were dismantled by Reading at the Madejski Stadium, Ipswich have otherwise started the season with good away form, picking up a draw at Brentford and gaining victories over Leeds and Preston.
The one Rovers player with a significant link to Ipswich Town is goal-machine Jordan Rhodes. After his father joined Town as a coach in 04/05, Rhodes was scouted at the local Kesgrave High School and brought into the youth ranks of the club. After scoring over 40 goals at reserve and youth level, Rhodes made his debut for Town in the 07/08 season and scored his first senior goal for the club in April against Cardiff City. The next season Rhodes would be sent out to Oxford, Rochdale and Brentford on loan, scoring 9 goals in 23 appearances for all three clubs. In the summer of 2009, Roy Keane shocked Ipswich fans by deciding to sell Rhodes to League One team Huddersfield for a measly Â£350,000, though a sell-on fee was included. Rhodes would go on to score 73 goals in 124 appearances for Huddersfield, and was then sold to Rovers for Â£8m, where he has continued his incredible goalscoring form. Meanwhile, his replacement at Ipswich, Tamas Priskin, was signed for Â£2.1m and managed 5 goals in 51 appearances before being released in January 2012. Suffice to say this was not Roy Keaneâ€™s finest moment as a manager, and he would go on to admit in his autobiography that selling Rhodes was one of his biggest regrets from his time at Ipswich.
Meanwhile, former Rover Jonathan Douglas is amongst the oppositionâ€™s ranks. The Irishman joined Rovers in 2000 as a 19 year old. He suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2001, and upon his return would spend most of the next couple of seasons on loan to Chesterfield and Blackpool. The majority of Douglasâ€™ playing time came under Graeme Souness, who awarded him a new three year contract just before he left for Newcastle. Sounessâ€™ successor, Mark Hughes, did not see Douglas as part of his plans and loan spells at Gillingham and Leeds followed â€“ the latter would become a permanent transfer in 2006. Douglas amassed 148 appearances for Leeds, mostly in League One, scoring 10 goals during that time. He was released in 2009 and was picked up by League One team Swindon Town. Douglas made 84 appearances for Swindon, scoring one goal. He was named the clubâ€™s Player of the Season and Playersâ€™ Player of the Season in 09/10, but the following season Swindon were relegated and Douglas rejected a new contract. In summer 2011 he signed for another League One team, Brentford, and would go on to make 169 appearances and score 17 goals in 5 successful years at the club. He was the Supportersâ€™ Player of the Season during their 11/12 League One campaign and played a significant role in the team that got promoted to the Championship in 13/14. Douglas was released after the 14/15 season ended, and at 33 years old signed on a free transfer for Ipswich Town, where he has currently made 4 appearances.
Ipswich have played Rovers six times since the clubs began sharing divisional status in the 2012/13 season. In fact, Roversâ€™ first game in the Championship following our relegation was a trip to Portman Road, where the highlight of an otherwise dour game of football in the sweltering heat was the relentless booing and chanting from the Rovers fans, aimed at Bruneiâ€™s favourite son Steve â€œSteveKeanâ€ Kean.
Portman Road has not been a happy hunting ground for Rovers, with only 2 points picked up out of a possible 9 over three seasons. 12/13 saw a 1-1 draw, with Kazim-Richards scoring for Rovers before Jason Lowe equalised for Ipswich with an own goal. 13/14 saw Ipswich put Rovers to the sword with a 3-1 victory - Rhodes netting a solitary consolation for the away side. 14/15 produced another 1-1 draw, David McGoldrick putting Ipswich ahead before Ben Marshall scored a late equaliser to rescue a point for the Rovers.
The trip to Ewood, meanwhile, has remained a daunting prospect for Ipswich. In three seasons they have not picked up a single point from Rovers at Ewood Park. In 12/13 Rovers won by a single goal, scored by who else but Jordan Rhodes. With this, the young striker had scored in seven consecutive matches, a feat only achieved by four other players in the clubâ€™s history. It marked three wins on the bounce for Rovers, a feat that seems almost impossible in recent times. This was the height of Michael Appletonâ€™s short tenure, and amazingly only a month later Appleton was removed from his position after a sharp decline in form. 13/14 saw a comfortable 2-0 win for Rovers, with Rhodes and Rudy Gestede both getting on the scoresheet. It ended a poor run for Rovers, and was the 13th clean sheet of the season, another statistic that seems very much beyond the current team. It also marked Rhodesâ€™ 50th goal for the club. 14/15 saw a more competitive match, but Rovers still came out on top with a 3-2 victory. Town came racing out of the blocks and took a 1-0 lead through Daryl Murphy. Rovers responded strongly and by the 60th minute were 3-1 ahead, with Rhodes, Gestede and Conway firing Rovers in front. Ipswich grabbed a late consolation through a Daryl Murphy penalty, but were unable to draw the game level. This result could have cost Ipswich, as this was the last game of the season and their playoff status was not yet secured. Fortunately for them, other results went their way, but their good fortune did not last and they would go on to lose to Norwich in the playoff semi-finals.
Overall, Rovers have a favourable record against Ipswich over the past few years. In six matches the Rovers have picked up 11 points out of a possible 18, whilst Ipswich have only picked up 5 from 18. All of Ipswichâ€™s points have come at Portman Road, whilst 9 of ours have come from Ewood. Rovers rarely have trouble scoring against Town, having scored at least one goal in all six games. Ipswich, however, have fired blanks twice at Ewood Park over the last three seasons.
Former Town player Rhodes enjoys scoring against his former club, having notched 4 goals in the 6 matches he has played against Ipswich thus far in Roversâ€™ colours. With Rhodes beginning to hit his stride again this season, Ipswich fans will no doubt be dreading their ex-striker coming back to haunt them again on Saturday.
So far this season Ipswich have scored 15 goals, but unusually for a Mick McCarthy side they have been defensively poor and also leaked 15 goals. Rovers meanwhile find themselves in a similar situation, having scored 10 but also conceded 10. Ipswich are joint-second top scorers in the division, suggesting that Roversâ€™ unreliable backline is likely to be breached at some point during the afternoon. However, Ipswich are also joint-fourth in goals conceded, meaning Jordan Rhodes has a good chance of adding to his current tally of five goals in seven appearances.
I coerced my colleague and lifelong Town fan Rob into answering a few pre-match questionsâ€¦
Itâ€™s been a decent start to the season for Ipswich, how do you rate your season so far and what aspirations do Town fans have for the season?
Weâ€™ve started okay, but recent form is a bit worrying. Weâ€™re conceding a lot of goals which needs to be sorted out. Most Town fans would be happy with a playoff spot again, but on our budget a top half finish would be alright.
Mick McCarthy is the type of manager many Rovers fans feel is needed at Ewood Park. What are your thoughts on him?
Considering heâ€™s had practically nothing to spend, heâ€™s done a great job. The football can be very dull at times, but at home especially it seems to work. After Keane and Jewell nearly wrecked the club, most fans are just happy to have somebody decent in charge.
Any thoughts on Gary Bowyer?
I donâ€™t know much about him to be honest. Seems like a decent bloke, but other than that no real opinion, sorry!
What about Rovers? What have you made of us over the past few seasons?
I remember looking at your team when we faced you at the start of the 12/13 season and thinking you could easily walk the league. Obviously that didnâ€™t happen! We never get anything at Ewood so I donâ€™t look forward to this fixture. Jordan Rhodes always scores against us too!
On that note, Jordan Rhodes â€“ wish you still had him?
Of course! But I think we would have eventually sold him anyway, for a lot less than your owners are willing to accept. Â£350k was ridiculous though and a lot of Town fans still resent Roy Keane for that sale.
Any views on Venkyâ€™s?
They seemed absolutely clueless at the beginning, but havenâ€™t heard much about them lately. They arenâ€™t the first foreign owners to wreck a football club and sadly wonâ€™t be the last. I hope for your sake the club finds itself in a better pair of hands in the near future.
Are you happy with Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans?
Weâ€™d like him to give McCarthy a bit more to spend, but he wasted a lot of money on Keane and Jewell so can understand his reluctance. Has done the hard part by bringing in a decent manager, and is keeping us afloat for now.
One comparison that can be made between Rovers and Ipswich is high debt levels â€“ do they concern you at all?
Not really, to be honest with you. Nobody really talks about that. I think most of it is owed to Marcus Evans anyway. Iâ€™m not sure many fans know or care about the clubâ€™s debt.
Which Town players should we be worried about?
Freddie Sears has been in good form lately, and the kid weâ€™ve got from Arsenal has pace which can really hurt teams. Ryan Fraser has looked decent as well. Obviously Murphy and McGoldrick are always a threat, but I donâ€™t know if either will start. Both of them have fitness issues at the moment.
Which Rovers players are you worried about?
It goes without saying reallyâ€¦ Jordan Rhodes. Always scores against us. Glad you sold Gestede though as heâ€™d give our defence nightmares.
Before I ask your prediction â€“ how does it feel to be the longest serving team in the Championship?
I enjoy the league as itâ€™s unpredictable and you can still catch a glimpse of some good players. Am quietly confident that McCarthy will get us promoted if he stays with us for another two or three years.
Okay â€“ score prediction?
A draw, 1-1. Sears to put us ahead before Rhodes does his usual and equalises.
Both clubs are struggling to defend this season, and itâ€™s likely there will be goals in this one. Although Ipswich have scored more goals than Rovers, current form and their history at Ewood suggests they will do well to walk away with one point, let alone all three.
Iâ€™ll go for an unusually optimistic 2-1 victory for the Rovers, with Rhodes and Conway scoring for Rovers and Murphy scoring his first goal of the season for Ipswich.
Monday 28th September 2015 â€“ Barclays Under-21 Premier League Division TwoÂ
Blackburn Rovers Under-21 3 v 0 Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21 -Â By Parsonblue
Blackburn Rovers Under-21 (1) 3
Taylor 12, Petshi 59, Forrester 71
David Raya; Ryan Nyambe, Sam Lavelle, Scott Wharton, Jack Doyle; Connor Mahoney, Sacha Petshi (Mark Edgar 83), Chris Taylor (Connor Thomson 75), Modou Cham; Devarn Green (Hyuga Tanner 75), Anton Forrester.
Subs not used: Ryan Crump (gk), Lewis Mansell.
Manager: Damien Johnson
Brighton & Hove Albion (0) 0
Joshua Smith; Robert Hunt, Ben White, Tom Dallison, Dylan Barnett; Joe Ward (James Tilley 64), Ben Barclay, Jesse Starkey (Connor Tighe 82), Jeffrey Monakana; Charlie Harris; Daniel Akindayini (Luke Chike Kandi 72).
Subs not used: Bailey Vose (gk), Tom Cadman.
Manager: Simon Rusk
Referee: Mr. S. Oldham
Bookings: Blackburn Rovers Under-21 â€“ None
Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21 â€“ None
Ewood Park is certainly proving a happy hunting ground for the Under-21 team as they followed up their victory over West Ham United with a convincing 3-0 win over Brighton.Â However, it was the manner of the performance which really caught the eye with not a weak link to be seen in a Rovers team that knocked the ball around with confidence and created chances whilst still remaining tight at the back.
The Rovers included Chris Taylor in their line-up as he continued his recovery after his long term injury problems whilst David Raya was given a runout between the posts.
The Rovers made a superb start to the game with Ryan Nyambe showing is paces down the right before whipping in a cross was only cleared as far as Taylor.Â The former Millwall man struck a powerful shot which Joshua Smith did well to get down to his left to make a save.
However, on twelve minutes the Albion â€˜keeper was powerless to prevent Taylor from giving the Rovers the lead.Â A lovely move on the part of the Rovers ended with Devarn Green pulling the ball back for Taylor to hit a shot from outside of the area which arrowed into the bottom corner of the net.
Sam Lavelle then had to head clear from a free-kick before a Scott Wharton error gave the visitors an excellent opportunity to equalise.Â The young defender mis-judged the flight of the ball which went over him and allowed Daniel Akindavini a clear run on goal.Â However, when he fired off his shot, Raya produced an outstanding piece of goalkeeping when he pushed the ball over the bar with one hand.
Excellent work from Sacha Petshi put Green clear on the right and from his cross the Brighton defence managed to scramble the ball away for a corner.
Taylor then had another long range effort blocked before Green and Anton Forrester combined to almost open up the Brighton defence.Â Forrester then got on the end of a Nyambe cross which Smith saved before Modou Cham fired over from outside of the area.
The visitors came back with a dangerous cross from the right which Raya had to be alert to come out and throw himself full length to grab the ball before it reached the feet of Akindayini.
Petshi, who was having an outstanding game in midfield, found Green who, in turn, played the ball out to Connor Mahoney.Â Mahoneyâ€™s cross was blocked for a corner from which Forrester sent in a header that Smith caught under his crossbar.
Brighton then had a very good opportunity just before the interval when a cross from the right was whipped over to Charlie Harris who met it first time but could only direct the ball straight at Raya who stopped it on the line.
The Rovers started the second period brightly when Forrester played the ball into Cham in the area and he crossed the ball to the far post but, sadly, the centre was just too high for Green to reach.
Mahoney then robbed a defender and outran the defence before cutting inside to fire off a shot which Smith saved at his near post.Â Mahoney then put in a centre which Forrester reached but headed just wide.
On 59 minutes the Rovers got the second goal which their play deserved and it was a goal with epitomised the effort which the team put into closing down the opposition.Â Under pressure from Petshi, Smith rushed his clearance and only succeeded in kicking the ball straight to Green on the right of the Brighton goal.Â He took it back into the area before squaring the ball across goal for Petshi to sweep home from close range.
The Rovers almost added a third when Mahoney took a free-kick from a central position and lofted the ball into the area and Lavelle rose to head narrowly over.
Mahoney, who seemed to come alive after the interval, then embarked on another run down the right before sending in an inch perfect cross which Forrester threw himself at and scored with a superb diving header in 71 minutes.
Brighton looked a thoroughly dispirited outfit by this point having been blown away by some wonderful, free-flowing football.Â The Rovers created more chances with Forrester just off target with one effort while Connor Thomsonâ€™s pass to Cham just skidded away from him off the surface as the young winger looked to be through on goal.Â Forrester then met another Mahoney cross but his header deflected off a defender for another corner.
This was a hugely impressive performance with a number of excellent performances but above all it was a real team effort and augurs well for the future.Â There is no doubt that the emphasis which Gary Bowyer and Eric Kinder have put on developing the younger end of the club is finally beginning to show results in terms of improved performances.Â The next step, of course, will be to oversee the development of at least one or two of these players into genuine first team prospects.Â On the evidence of this display there is certainly the potential to be developed.
Rovers wait for their first win of the season continues as they were pegged back twice against QPR last night.
Manager Gary Bowyer felt that his team were the better side Â â€œWe were outstanding in the first half and the game should have been dead and buried with the amount of chances that we created. The football we played was terrific.
â€œBut the timing of their first goal was ridiculous. We gifted them it, it was poor all the way around.
â€œThe response from us was terrific, we got our noses back in front, and we should have stayed in front as we had the chances to capitalise again. Â But their second goal, you have to have accountability and a responsibility for marking your man at set-plays â€“ and itâ€™s as simple as that".
Rovers take on Charlton on Saturday at Ewood with the game kicking off at 3.00pm.
Saturday 12th September 2015 â€“ The Premier Academy Under-18 League
Blackburn Rovers Under-18 1 v 1 Manchester United Under-18 - By Parsonblue
Blackburn Rovers Under-18 (1) 1
Andrew Fisher; Lewis Travis, Matthew Platt, Charley Doyle, Josh Askew; Lewis Hardcastle; Mason Fawns, Stefan Mols, Joseph Grayson (Joseph Rankin-Costello 69), Ramirez Howarth.
Subs not used: Joe Boyling (gk), Joel Steer, Stuart Callaway, Alex Curran.
Coach: Billy Barr
Manchester United Under-18 (0) 1
Rashford (penalty) 63
George Donnington; Warren Tyrell, Ro-Shaun Williams, Jimmy Dunne, Tyler Reid; Charlie Scott (Callum Whelan 62); Kayne Diedricke-Roberts (Jake Kenyon 62), Callum Gribbin, Tosin Kehinde, Angel Gomes; Marcus Rashford.
Subs not used: Matty Campbell (gk), Lewis Thompson, Harry Spratt.
Coach: Paul McGuinness
Referee: Mr. M. Hooper
Bookings: Blackburn Rovers Under-18 â€“ Lewis Travis
Manchester United Under-18 â€“ Tosin Kehinde, Tyrell Warren
The Under-18â€™s impressive start to the season continued with this hard won point in a highly competitive game at Brockhall.
The Rovers started brightly and dominated the opening fifteen minutes with Lewis Hardcastle spreading the ball around from a deeper position in midfield.
An excellent flowing move enabled Joe Grayson to fire a shot wide and then Lewis Mansell hit a drive straight at George Dorrington in the United goal.Â Mansell then rose to head the ball towards goal but Dorrington held the ball just under the crossbar.
The Rovers were playing some fast, flowing football that had the United defence at full stretch.
United finally made a serious threat when Marcus Rashford went on a good run on the right but was stopped with a tackle as he got into the area.Â From the resultant corner, Andrew Fisher came out and caught the ball in confident fashion.
Just past the fifteen minute mark the impressive Grayson fired another long range effort over the bar as the Rovers continued to put pressure on the visitors.
United threatened on the counter-attack and Fisher had to be alert when a speculative through pass looked to have opened up the defence but the â€˜keeper was quick off his line to collect the ball.
Mansell then went down in the area under a challenge from Angel Gomes and despite appeals for a penalty, Mr. Hooper remained unmoved and allowed play to carry on.
United responded with a decent move of their own down the left wing but when the ball came to Tyler Reid, the full-backs cross was woeful and went out for a goal-kick.
Another flowing move which saw several players swapping passes at speed ended with Grayson hitting another powerful long range effort over the bar.
The Rovers almost broke the deadlock when Josh Askew whipped in a ball to the far post where Mansell and a defender went up to meet the cross and the ball flew back across the area for Stefan Mols to head the ball against the crossbar.
On the half-hour mark Fisher was called into action when he had to push a free-kick from Callum Gribbin over his crossbar.Â Fisher then had to make a save at the foot of the post when Ro-Shaun Williams fed Gribbin and the United man moved into the area before hitting a fierce shot which Fisher did well to hold.
Grayson then played a peach of a pass through the United defence which set Mansell free but as he cut into the area his cross was blocked for a corner.
The Rovers finally broke the deadlock on thirty-nine minutes when Reid miscued a pass and put the ball straight to Grayson who took it into the area before picking his spot and almost passing the ball into the net past a stranded Dorrington.Â It was no more than the Rovers deserved as they had been by far the better side up to that point.
The Rovers might well have increased their lead moments later when Ramierz Howarth cut in from the left and curled an effort just inches wide of the far post.
Early in the second half, Graysonâ€™s free kick was pushed against the post by Dorrington and then Mansell broke free of the defence but fired wide as the Rovers continued to press in search of a second goal.
Eventually, United started to enjoy more possession and Tyrell Warren got forward from right-back and popped up in the area but dragged the ball wide when in a good shooting position.
The Rovers did get the ball into the net when Mason Fawns headed home but the celebrations were cut short by a linesman who had signalled that Fawns was in an offside position.
The game had become an end to end affair with some fairly robust challenges going in which led to more than one confrontation between the players.
After, sixty-three minutes United drew level from the penalty spot.Â Gomes was brought down in the area by Charley Doyle and the referee, rightly, awarded a penalty.Â Rashford, who had been a constant threat, stepped up and beat Fisher from the spot despite the â€˜keeper diving the right way and almost getting a hand to the ball.
Grayson then sent in a header which Dorrington managed to get a hand to the ball and keep it out.Â Mols then got into the area but his shot went straight to Dorrington whilst both Gomes and Jake Kenyon had shots which Fisher held.
Both sides gave everything in tricky conditions with driving rain at times making it far from easy for both sets of players.Â In the end a draw was a fair result although one suspects that the Rovers will be disappointed that they didnâ€™t make the most of the numerous chances they created in the first half.
There were a number of excellent performances from the youngsters.Â Andrew Fisher was a safe pair of hands in goal whilst Matthew Platt was outstanding at the heart of the defence.Â Lewis Hardcastle, Joe Grayson and Stefan Mols all played well in midfield both in creating chances and in defending when required.Â Lewis Mansell was a willing runner up front and caused the United defence a number of problems with his robust style of play.