Blackburn preview and pubs: Rovers D-day to end Bees’ season
Forty-five games played – and the destiny of Blackburn’s season comes down to 90 minutes at Griffin Park on Sunday lunchtime.
Our final opponents of our third consecutive campaign in the Championship arrive in TW8 with their fate out of their own hands and facing the very real prospect of a return to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1980.
Sunday’s scenario works like this:
Blackburn are one of three teams who could occupy the final relegation place alongside Wigan and Rotherham – with Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest and Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham also in danger.
To stay up, Rovers need to beat us and hope that one of Forest and Birmingham fails to win. Forest are at home to Ipswich while Birmingham visit Bristol City.
A draw would keep Blackburn up if Forest lose by two goals or more.
A defeat would relegate them unless Forest were beaten by at least three more goals than them.
It has been a miserable season at Ewood Park, with Blackburn spending the entire campaign in the bottom five and most of it in the bottom three.
They have only won 11 games – one against us in November – meaning that if they do go down, we will have lost away to all three relegated teams.
This is Rovers’ fifth consecutive season in the Championship and although they came within two points of the play-offs in 2013/14 and were 11 points away the following season, their other two campaigns have been spent in the bottom half of the table.
Blackburn have been through well-documented off-the-field problems – but before that were founder members of the Premier League and of course were champions in 1994/95.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Tony Mowbray took over at Blackburn in late February, a day after previous boss Owen Coyle left by mutual consent.
When the former Middlesbrough, Celtic, West Brom and Hibernian boss arrived, Rovers were three points adrift of safety with 15 games remaining.
He has overseen an upturn in form, with only three defeats in 14 games, but the fact that seven of the other matches have been draws rather than wins, means that Blackburn have stayed in the bottom three.
Mowbray started the season in charge of Coventry but left the club at the end of September.
As a player, he made more than 550 senior appearances for only three clubs – Middlesbrough, Celtic and Ipswich.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Blackburn earned only their fourth win of the season, in their 17th game, when they beat us 3-2 at a snowy Ewood Park in November in a match in which all five goals came in the first half.
Scott Hogan put us ahead in the opening minute but Danny Graham equalised 15 minutes later and then put Rovers ahead from the penalty spot moments later.
Hogan levelled for Brentford on the half hour mark but an own goal by Harlee Dean proved decisive
We failed to beat Blackburn last season.
We earned a point at Ewood Park in November when Lasse Vibe’s 24th minute goal was cancelled out by Tom Lawrence before the break, in a match in which Marco Djuricin suffered an injury which ruled him out for two months.
The home game is best forgotten about from our point of view as Blackburn’s Shane Duffy scored the only goal in the 86th minute, even though they had played with 10 men from the 57th minute after Grant Hanley was sent off.
It was the Bees’ seventh defeat in eight games and sent us down to 18th in the table, while Rovers’ first away win in nine attempts took them up to 14th.
BBC Radio Lancashire’s Blackburn Rovers commentator Andy Bayes gives his view on Rovers’ chances of survival, analyses what has gone wrong this season at Ewood Park and remembers previous games at Griffin Park.
Q – Do you think Blackburn will stay up? How do you see things panning out in our game and those involving Forest and Birmingham on Sunday?
A – I believe that they can, but predicting Championship matches hasn’t made me rich and I doubt it ever will. Rovers could lose and stay up if Forest lose by more. I don’t see all three clubs winning. Now I’ve said that – they probably will!
Q – What has gone wrong for Rovers this season – why are they in this position in the first place?
A – Last season was disappointing, and after losing more important players over the summer, I think a lot of people expected a struggle.
The appointment of Owen Coyle wasn’t well received and he was never accepted. They are where they are due to a load of draws, some of which should have been wins (not all). They simply haven’t won enough games over a long period.
Q – If Rovers survive, what are their chances of recapturing their Premier League glory days – or even just returning to the Premier League – in the near future?
A – The Premier League glory days are now long gone. Returning to the Premier League would take a significant shift from the owners and an increased budget for Tony Mowbray to work with.
Q – Tony Mowbray has improved results with fewer defeats than under Owen Coyle – but Blackburn have drawn a lot of games. What is that down to – lack of a consistent striker or not creating enough chances?
A – It’s down to a number of factors. They don’t have a Rhodes or Gestede to guarantee 20 goals plus, but Sam Gallagher and Danny Graham have weighed in with double figures, for which they deserve credit.
The defence has needed changing so much this season, which doesn’t help. And, they need more goals from midfield.
Q – Do you have any good or bad memories, or have you been involved in any unusual incidents, of previous trips to Griffin Park, or in home games against Brentford, either for work or as a fan?
A – Although I wasn’t at the game last season, Shane Duffy’s winner provided one of the moments of the season, when he jumped into the away end. The year before, I just remember Rovers being unable to cope with Brentford’s movement and some poor defending too.
Q – What do you remember about this season’s game at Ewood Park?
A – I remember the relief when the whistle went at the end. I don’t think Brentford were anywhere near full tilt on the day and winning the game was quite a crucial one at the time.
Q – Which Rovers players should we watch out for?
A – Charlie Mulgrew has been terrific this season. He possesses a terrific delivery which cause issues for clubs. Elliott Bennett has also been excellent of late. His energy levels in midfield have been very good indeed.
Q – Which Bees players will you be wary of?
A – Always liked Alan Judge and was disappointed that Rovers let him leave twice. Obviously he won’t be involved. I don’t look any further than the forward players, who have made sure Scott Hogan hasn’t been missed.
Blackburn are likely to play a 3-4-2-1 formation on Sunday.
David Raya (ex-Barcelona) has been in goal in recent weeks after first choice Jason Steele (ex-Middlesbrough and GB Olympics team) suffered an ankle injury to end a run of 82 consecutive Championship starts, although he was on the bench against Aston Villa last Saturday.
Former trainee and midfielder Darragh Lenihan, Scotland international Charlie Mulgrew (ex-Celtic) and Elliott Ward (ex-West Ham), brother of Yeovil’s Darren, are the centre-backs in a back three.
The four men in front of them should be another former trainee Ryan Nyambe and Derrick Williams (ex-Aston Villa) as right and left wing-backs and in the central roles captain Jason Lowe, a one-club man who made his first-team debut in January 2011, and Danny Guthrie (ex-Liverpool).
Elliott Bennett (ex-Wolves) and on loan Southampton striker Sam Gallagher are likely to play just behind top scorer Danny Graham (ex-Swansea), who was at one time linked with a move to Brentford.
Last weekend’s other substitutes were on loan Watford defender Tommy Hoban, midfielders Craig Conway (ex-Cardiff), Connor Mahoney (ex-Accrington) and Nigeria international Hope Akpan (ex-Crawley) and on loan strikers Marvin Emnes (from Swansea) and Portugal international Lucas Joao (from Sheffield Wednesday).
After the game, why not stay on to watch Ryan Peters’ Brentford Women’s FC play an exhibition match between their first and development teams.
The game kicks off at 3.30pm and it’s free entry for all. More details here.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD
For Blackburn fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.
There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).
There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Road (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.
You can check out details of how the tube is running on Transport for London’s website here.