After Rovers failed to make their chances pay against Stoke City, as the Potteries emerged from Ewood Park as 1-0 victors, a deflated Tony Mowbray discussed his side’s lack of bite in their Easter Monday fixture.
“Today’s game was a ‘game of two halves’, in my opinion. I thought we didn’t get going in the first-half and we lost an early goal. The atmosphere in the stadium affected the confidence of a lot of the young players and we didn’t get going. We needed to change a few things at half-time and I thought we were much better in the second-half and we probably deserved something from the game off of that second-half display, yet, as has been happening over recent weeks, we don’t seem to get the breaks and ultimately we got nothing from the game after a lot of hard work in the second-half. We were striving to right our wrongs from the first-half, but it wasn’t to be.
“Football is football. You can lose a really early goal, but I always have the belief and confidence that this team can work their way into a match and find a way to turn things around. It was a really poor goal to concede early on, of course, but it wasn’t to be. Scoring goals in the second-half of the campaign has been more of an issue and we are missing some individual talent who are capable of eliminating opponents, as I’ve said in the past. The likes of (Reda) Khadra, (Ian) Poveda, (Dilan) Markanday and (Bradley) Dack are all players capable of eliminating opposition defenders. Ben Brereton Díaz is back, but he’s not up to speed and he’s struggled over the past two games to get through the 90 minutes. He’s shown flashes of quality and he could have scored towards the end of the first-half, today, but his shot was saved.
“They’re all working hard and it’s been hard on them, really. They’re pretty down and their confidence is low, but as I’ve said all season, they’re a brilliant bunch of lads. They need supporting and I will support them. We’ll finish the season how we finish it and hopefully we’ll have a strong finish. We have three games left and we have to aim to win all of them and we’ll see where that takes us.
“Their goalkeeper (Jack Bonham) made a world-class save right at the death. Saying that, we had more than enough opportunities in the second-half and we spent most of the second period in the ascendency. The way Stoke City play, with how they leave two strikers up top for transitions is always dangerous and they carried that threat, despite us generally being on top throughout the second-half. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the back of their net and it wasn’t to be and we ended up losing 1-0.
“It’s going to be difficult to get into the top six from this position, I think. I’m not sure how many points behind we are, but I think we’re on the same number of points as a lot of teams with everything still to play for, yet it feels difficult. People talk about momentum, but we don’t have that at the moment. Maybe we’ll get a break in the upcoming games? A sending off or a penalty or we score a goal that goes in off someone’s backside? Maybe we’ll get something to change the momentum that will lead to a win that can quickly become three wins, given the way confidence works in football.
“Bradley got injured whilst he was warming up at half-time. He’s jarred his back, but I don’t think it’s anything too serious. The plan was to send him on at half-time, but we didn’t want to risk him.”