It may have taken 27 appearances; eight months and a whole lot of questions around his confidence and ability, but the nightmare start to his Blackburn Rovers career finally came to an end for Ben Brereton on Monday, as he netted his first goal since arriving at Ewood Park in August.
The 20-year-old’s opening goal in Rovers’ 2-0 win over Bolton was greeted with visible relief from Brereton himself; his teammates and manager, and indeed those in the Ewood Park stands and beyond, as he finally started to repay that much discussed £7million fee Rovers paid Championship rivals Nottingham Forest for his services.
Given that Rovers position in the Championship had long since been secure and Bolton’s free fall into League One had been equally made certain of this was a game that you felt had been targeted for Brereton to open his Rovers account right from the moment he was left on the bench at QPR just a few days earlier.
That feeling was only further enhanced when it was confirmed that Brereton was to start at Ewood Park against Bolton on Monday.
But while Bolton’s perilous and seemingly unending predicament made this an obvious target for Brereton, that in itself brought pressure with it. Had Brereton failed to find the net in 90 minutes, the scrutiny on him would only have increased further still, so the confidence with which he took his goal – something not seen with other chances that have fallen his way this season – is a hugely promising sign for those in blue and white.
This is something that Brereton himself must now build on. The 20-year-old has already been identified by manager Tony Mowbray as the long term heir to Danny Graham’s spot leading the line for Rovers, and he must now continue to prove that he can do that.
Graham may have a few more seasons left to do that job for Rovers, and if Brereton can’t show in that time as his deputy that he is ready to step into the void that will eventually be left by the veteran, then Rovers will surely be forced to look elsewhere.
Were that to happen, it would do Brereton no favours in looking for another club and Rovers heavily out of pocket for a club that looks to be walking a financial tightrope.
Brereton therefore cannot allow Monday’s long awaited breakthrough to go to waste, both for his sake and the club’s. No pressure then.