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New to League One: Blackburn Rovers

1 June 2017

We continue our look at the new sides joining Sky Bet League One for the 2017-18 campaign after Blackburn Rovers were the third and final side relegated from the Championship, suffering their fate on the final day.

Agonisingly Rovers were, at one point, free from the drop on the final match of the season and did all they could on the day as they collected three points against Brentford. Ultimately, victories for Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City meant that it left Blackburn needing a larger victory to beat the drop.

The relegation came 22 years to the day since the side won the Premier League, but instead, in 2017 the side would have to contemplate competing in the third tier of English football. 

Owen Coyle was the new man to lead the side into the 2016-17 season following Paul Lambert's departure and he'd oversee Rovers' start in the Championship as a very poor one with no wins, two draws and five defeats from the first seven games. The side did manage to push through to the third round of the EFL Cup, but their first league win wouldn't arrive until mid-September when they beat Rotherham United 4-2 at Ewood Park.

They'd back up those three points with a trio more a week later as they beat Derby County away from home, but despite wins over Forest, Brentford and Newcastle United, the side were always flirting with danger. Even after those three wins, they ended November in 22nd, two points from safety.

Form took a nose dive into December with four defeats from six (two draws) before they completed the league double over Newcastle United to begin 2017. One futher triumph over QPR would do little to save Coyle's job though as he left the club on February 20 - just a day after a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup. He left the club in 23rd position and three points, effectively four, away from safety.

Two days after his departure, Tony Mowbray was named as his successor and he saw Blackburn go seven games unbeaten, first drawing away at Burton Albion before successive 1-0 home wins against Derby County and Wigan Athletic. He'd then oversee four successive draws. The new spark had pushed the side up one place, but now just one point off climbing away from the drop. Three successive defeats would then drag them firmly back into the reckoning for League One football.

With five games left, the side could ill-afford to slip up further if they wanted to remain in the second tier. Victory over close relegation rivals Forest would aid their cause, with two draws then to follow. With two games left, Rovers would be two points from safety.

Maximum points from the final two games would provide some hope for the side, but other teams at the bottom would also pull off the results they required and the team became the last side relegated to Sky Bet League One.

Barring cup draws, the two sides will meet for only the fourth and fifth times in our history. The last meeting came at Ewood Park in round one of the Capital One Cup in 2014 when a Neal Bishop header put the Iron into round two.

The two league encounters will only be the second wave between the two sides and the first in 45 years - Rovers and the Iron last doing battle in the old third division in 1972-73. Obviously, that means Blackburn will be making their first-ever visit to Glanford Park.


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