With Brighton & Hove Albion’s opponents for the 2015/16 Championship season now confirmed, the club’s media team will take a look at the Seagulls’ 23 opponents for the next campaign.
The second team to feature in our opposition focus series is Blackburn Rovers.
LEAGUE POSITION: 9th
FA CUP: Sixth round
LEAGUE CUP: First round
TOP GOALSCORER: Rudy Gestede (22)
2014/15 SEASON REVIEW
Blackburn Rovers fans may reflect on the 2014/15 season as a case of one step forwards, two steps backwards after just missing out on a play-off place once again.
The Lancashire outfit finished ninth in the Championship and 11 points adrift of sixth-placed Ipswich Town, after securing an eighth-place finish in 2013/14 - just two points behind Brighton & Hove Albion in sixth.
Following an inconsistent start to the season, Rovers saw an upturn in their fortunes after going on a nine-match unbeaten run through October and November.
Back-to-back defeats followed against Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford at the start of December, as the side continued their inconsistent form, and did not do enough to have a realistic chance of gate-crashing the top six.
The side were not helped by an extensive injury list, which saw the likes of Tommy Spurr, Shane Duffy, Grant Hanley and Matt Kilgallon all ruled out for various periods of the season.
But there were still a number of positives to take from the campaign, including the goalscoring form of Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede, who managed 21 and 22 goals respectively in all competitions.
The side also embarked on an impressive run to the FA Cup sixth round which included impressive 3-1 and 4-1 wins over Premier League opponents Swansea City and Stoke City respectively, before a narrow 1-0 sixth round replay defeat to Liverpool at Ewood Park.
Rovers had contrasting fortunes in the Capital One Cup though, following a shock 1-0 first round defeat to League One Scunthorpe United courtesy of Neal Bishop’s first-half header.
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LAST TIME WE MET
Kilgallon (OG) 26’
Matthew Kilgallon’s first-half own goal gave Brighton & Hove Albion a first away victory since January at Ewood Park.
The defender inadvertently guided Chris O’Grady’s 26th minute cross into his own net to give Albion a 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers, leaving the Seagulls 10 points above the drop zone with seven games to play.
The win also extended Albion’s six-match unbeaten run against Rovers in all competitions, with their last victory coming in a 3-0 win at the Goldstone back in March 1992.
Blackburn line-up: Steele; Henley, Baptiste, Kilgallon, Olsson; Taylor (Spurr 54), Spearing, Cairney, Marshall; Brown (Gestede 54), Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Williamson, Songo’o, Lenihan, Mahone.
Albion line-up: Stockdale; Bruno, Halford, Greer, Bennett; Ince, Kayal; Ledesma (Calderon 68), Stephens, Teixeira (Forster-Caskey 88); O’Grady.
Subs not used: Walton (GK), Calderon, Hughes, Holla, LuaLua.
Gary Bowyer has just completed his second full season as Rovers manager after initially being appointed on a caretaker basis following the dismissal of Michael Appleton in March 2013.
The 43-year-old started his coaching career working part-time at non-League Ilkeston before joining Derby County as an academy coach.
Bowyer arrived at Ewood Park in 2004 and spent time coaching the club’s under-18 and reserve teams, before landing the number one job on a permanent basis in May 2013 on a 12-month rolling contract.
He has since added some stability at the helm following the two shortest-ever terms served as Blackburn manager, after the tenures of former defender Henning Berg (57 days) and Appleton (67 days).
Much will depend on whether the club can keep hold of Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede.
Rhodes looks the more likely of the duo to stay at the club, but Middlesbrough are reported to be considering a fresh approach for the forward after they had a bid rejected three months ago.
Sources indicate that Gestede’s future lies away from Ewood Park, with newly-promoted Premier League Watford reportedly considering a bid for the club’s top scorer in 2014/15.
Reinforcements are also unlikely this summer, with the club placed under a transfer embargo after falling foul of the Football League’s Financial Fair Play regulations.