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Mowbray on Rovers' defensive doggedness

Boss reserves special praise for duo Darragh Lenihan & Derrick Williams

18 August 2019

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Rovers manager Tony Mowbray was delighted to see his side record their first clean sheet of the season in the 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough.

After Danny Graham had handed Rovers a half-time lead, with a clinically taken penalty, a resilient Rovers had to dig deep in the closing stages in order to see the game out.

Speaking to iFollow Rovers after the hard-earned but well deserved victory, Mowbray said: "We talked about making first contact when the ball comes in the box.

"The goals against column, if you can make first contact, even if you just skimming it off the top of your head, it dramatically reduces their opportunity to score a goal.

"We've worked a lot on the almost desperation to make the first contact when that ball comes in. Ideally, you get a clear header or a clear block or you put your boot through it and you kick it out of the box, but we've worked hard on that this week and I think it's paid dividends.

"The team will hopefully grow from the clean sheet and get to a point where it has to be in your stomach. A clean sheet is what you make your living off.

"If you're a defender and if you keep clean sheets week-in week-out, you're not too worried about what the glamour boys do at the front end of the pitch, just make sure that you keep a clean sheet and that's what I'm trying to engineer in this group. 

"They did it today and they'll take a lot of pride in that."

Mowbray reserved special praise for the promising centre back partnership of Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams, who have now won five of the last seven games the pair have played together.

"They were both aggressive, they attacked the ball and they can deliver it from the back, so I was happy that," added the Rovers boss.

"They've got a lot of respect for each other, they know each other's qualities and they're in the Irish squad together.

"They're pals off the pitch and I think that makes a big difference when there's a huge respect between the two of them.

"They can eff and blind at each other, or pat each other on the back, and know that they're not falling out or taking it personally.

"That respect and that chemistry is a really important thing and it's a combination that gives great strength to that part of the team.

"Of course, we've got Tosin (Adarabioyo), who I thought was brilliant against Fulham for long spells, so there's a conundrum for me moving forward when Tosin is back fit."

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