Rovers slipped to a second successive away defeat, failing to score for the third game in a row.
Darren Ferguson made three changes, Harry Toffolo, Rodney Kongolo and Liam Mandeville replacing Niall Mason, James Coppinger and Alfie May. Rovers fell behind after just 21 seconds, when George Smith beat Joe Wright and pulled the ball back for Matt Crooks to slam it past Ian Lawlor.
The visitors’ performance was as discordant as a Stockhausen composition played on kitchen utensils, and they could have been further behind when Crooks missed a header from close range, just before the interval.
A goal down at half-time, Ferguson sent on Coppinger and there was a discernible improvement, John Marquis being denied a penalty despite being barged over in the area. Wright then headed just over the bar from a corner. May and Jordan Houghton joined the fray on the hour and Rovers began to dominate matters, winning a succession of corners. May had a shot blocked, then home goalkeeper Matt Ingram produced a superb save to tip over a near post header from Tommy Rowe.
Ingram’s luck was in when he parried a fierce shot from Coppinger only for the loose ball to hit a defender and bounce back into his arms. Ingram then produced another fine save, tipping over a drive from Ben Whiteman.
However, for all their second half dominance Rovers could not find an equaliser and so paid the price for a sluggish start and a wretched opening half.
by John Coyle