Blackburn Rovers – Match Report vs Bristol City 20/06/20

This is a guest piece by Andrew Watson.

This match had great importance in the race for the play-offs in the Championship. Bristol City started the match in their expected 1-4-2-3-1 formation but Blackburn surprised most observers by adopting a never-before-seen 1-4-3-3 with Lewis Holtby performing in a withdrawn central forward role. This enabled Ben Brereton and Sam Gallagher to play as wide forwards and stifle the build-up play of Bristol City on the flanks.

In truth, this was a game of few clear cut chances. Bristol City were poor going forwards and rarely threatened the Blackburn goal. Interestingly, Blackburn took advantage of the new substitution rules to bring on a whole new front three after the hour mark and this proved effective.


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at that level
  • B2 – Potential to be a good player at that level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average, don’t follow up

Tosin Adarabioyo

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 24/09/1997
  • Current Club: Blackburn Rovers, on loan from Manchester City
  • Career: Manchester City (Y), West Bromwich Albion (L), Blackburn Rovers (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary position: Right Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

A tall central defender but Adarabioyo isn’t a physically imposing defender. His height enables him to be very successful in aerial duels but the obvious positive attributes in his defending are his positional sense and timing in the challenge. He used this to good effect on numerous occasions during the match.

Adarabioyo is very comfortable in possession. He has an excellent technique, can play multiple types of passes and uses his first touch to set up what he wants to do with the ball very effectively. His distribution in this match was very disappointing however. He once found his centre forward with an incisive through-ball that broke through the midfield lines, but on several occasions, he played a lofted ball forward that either went straight through to the opposition goalkeeper or even out for a throw or goal kick. This is something that he will need to improve and perhaps could be partially attributed to it being the first match returning from a long break.

The crowning moment of Adarabioyo’s match came early in the second half when he scored an excellent goal. He was able to wrap his foot around a lay off and curl a finish into the top corner from the edge of the box. Certainly, something that most 6’5 central defenders would struggle to pull off.

The young defender’s composure would serve him very well at a higher level. He could play comfortably in a three and has the adaptability to play in a team that dominates the ball but has the defensive attributes to cope in a team that would defend for long periods. His height also makes him a threat from set pieces.

Rating – A2

Lewis Travis

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 16/10/1997
  • Current Club: Blackburn Rovers
  • Career: Liverpool (Y), Blackburn Rovers
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary position: Right Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Travis played on the right of a three-man midfield in this match. Previously he had been regularly performing in two but looked very comfortable in this position. A genuine box-to-box midfielder he played the whole ninety minutes and ran constantly throughout.

In possession Travis plays with his head up and looks to progress the ball if possible. This led him to give the ball away on a couple of occasions but he has the confidence to keep trying to make something happen. Travis is also comfortable just keeping possession, often finding his midfield partner Downing to encourage him to create an opportunity, and certainly shows adaptability in the way he plays.

The most striking aspect of the 22-year-old’s play though is his competitiveness. He is always to be found making life difficult for his opponents. Whether this is closing down passing lanes, pressing forwards to put pressure on or making recovery runs he seems tireless in his desire to compete. This positive attitude will keep him involved in matches and could easily see him play higher in the game.

Rating – A1

Joe Rankin-Costello

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 26/07/1999
  • Current Club: Blackburn Rovers
  • Career: Manchester United (Y), Blackburn Rovers
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Due to injuries to Blackburn’s two left-backs Joe Rankin-Costello played in this position for the first time. Throughout his career in the youth system he has played all across the attacking midfield line and at right-back but this was unusual territory for the youngster. Rankin-Costello has an average height and build, but is very athletic and has good pace.

He has an excellent first touch that allows him to make good decisions with the ball. He played an excellent lofted through ball over the top of the Bristol City defence for Brereton to run onto. He was also able to play the ball through midfield and move on to effect the play in the final third. It was his break forward from left back that enabled Blackburn to get into position for the equaliser in the game.

However, he was troubled quite a lot defensively. Eliasson from Bristol City is a tricky, pacy opponent and Rankin-Costello fouled him a couple of times and was soundly beaten on another. He also failed to pick up Paterson for the Bristol City goal but he wasn’t solely at fault for that.

Rankin-Costello would be better judged again in a more familiar position to give a fair assessment but showed enough quality to show that he has potential to play at or above this current level.

Rating – B2

Ben Brereton

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 18/04/1999
  • Current Club: Blackburn Rovers
  • Career: Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers
  • Position: Centre Forward
  • Secondary Position: Right Wing
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Brereton has had a troubled couple of years at Blackburn following a multi-million-pound transfer from Nottingham Forest as a teenager. However, he is now fully fit and started only his eighth league game for Blackburn here against Bristol City. He possesses a good height and is powerfully built. He also showed a good turn of pace and enough stamina to play at a high intensity for an hour.

There wasn’t any evidence of outstanding technique in Brereton’s game. He demonstrated an ability to carry the ball dangerously through the thirds of the pitch but end product was lacking. He had no shots and only a couple of touches in the opponents’ penalty area. Despite this he did complete a number of passes in the opponents’ half and offered a threat with ball at feet.

One area of Brereton’s play which was excellent was his desire to press the ball and win possession back for his team. He showed an unceasing attitude and his deployment as a wide forward in this game worked very well for Blackburn solely because he and Gallagher were so effective in their work off the ball.

Rating – B2

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