A stunning volley courtesy of Leon Best meant that Rovers secured a point in their first league fixture against Derby County on Sunday.
The home side were awarded a penalty following a foolish handle committed by new boy Alex Marrow allowing Johnny Russell to seize the advantage for the Rams when he sent Jake Kean the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Rovers stayed composed throughout the 90 minutes, with Best getting the equaliser in the minute before full-time. It was the former Newcastle star’s first goal since arriving at Blackburn having spent the majority of last season injured.
While Rovers looked ambitious in the first half, dynamic force Ruben Rochina dislocated his shoulder and was to be replaced by goalscorer Best. The injury means he will be out for “three to four months” (according to his Twitter feed) and as he went off, the inspiring creativity of the midfield disappeared with him.
Rochina spent the second half of last season on loan to Real Zaragoza. Frustratingly Rochina is prone to hesitation leading to losing the ball at times, however when on form he is capable of skilful footwork, stunning shots and despite his build, is surprisingly agile. His return to Rovers has been embraced with remarks that his creative flair is something the club has lacked and desires greatly.
The injury substitution saw the midfield (a partnership of Jason Lowe and Alex Marrow) start to appear industrious with the pair unable to secure a threatening link up.
Loanee Todd Kane looked hungry for points despite a few silly errors in front of goal, however it is expected that he will play a big role throughout the season after two successful loan spells last season. Kane is a young Chelsea player, who has ambitions to impress Jose Mourinho in an attempt to make the breakthrough at Chelsea. His performances are never shy of 100% effort, commitment and determination.
New players, Tommy Spurr and substitutes Chris Taylor and Tom Cairney all appeared to gel into the squad quickly, with Spurr looking particularly talented. Taylor has a hunger about him that is a much needed addition to the squad, last season there was a unanimous feeling amongst fans that players didn’t really care – the desire and hunger shown on Sunday was pleasing and as long as that survives, the club can achieve plenty.
Another positive to take is that the squad were able to come back from a first-half concession. Not being able to retaliate was a huge problem last year with Rovers generally being the team who were conceding late on in games, so it was both relieving and pleasing to see them fight back to take a point.
A worry is that with both Rochina and DJ Campbell injured (the latter picked up an injury in pre-season) the strikeforce is limited to Best and Jordan Rhodes.
An area that needs improving this season is our ability to create goalscoring opportunities. We need to provide goal machine Rhodes with better quality and more chances in front of goal.
Colin Kazim-Richards did his best last season to provide the service for Rhodes, but is no longer an option for Rovers after the expiry of his season-long loan last year.
The previous season saw many high and long balls from the defence to Rhodes which he struggled to get a touch on, so it is important to prioritise developing a strong link up between Rhodes and the midfield.
All in all, a point from Pride Park sets the season up nicely and without sounding too much like Steve Kean, there were many positives to take from Sunday’s match.
Rovers head to Carlisle on Wednesday for their first game of the Capital One cup before hosting Nottingham Forest at Ewood Park on Saturday for their first home fixture.