Rovers’ 60 year wait for a league win against Accrington Stanley continues as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the Wham Stadium in Sky Bet League One.
Those who believe in bogey teams would hardly need more proof that Accrington Stanley are that team for Rovers when with just three minutes on the clock, Pontus Dahlberg somehow fumbled Joe Pritchard’s hopeful 25-yard effort into the back of the net to give the home side an early lead.
That sparked a frantic opening 10 minutes before the visitors were able to stamp a bit of control on the game, get the ball down and play but for all Rovers possession, a Ben Close cut-back which narrowly evaded the touch of Tiago Cukur was the best chance they created in the opening period, though arguments could be made that a pull back on Cukur in the Stanley box warranted a penalty.
The home side started the second half the brighter with Colby Bishop being handed the best chance of the half when an under-hit pass put him one-on-one with Dahlberg. The keeper made up for his first half error with an excellent save.
A change of formation for Rovers on the hour mark, gave them more impetus but Kyle Knoyle’s effort from 20 yards which was tipped over by keeper James Trafford was was the closest they came to an equaliser.
Richie Wellens named an unchanged side after defeat at Sheffield Wednesday, but 18-year-old Liam Ravenhill recovered from a calf injury to fill the seventh place on the bench. John Coleman’s side were also unchanged.
The match got off to the worst possible start for Rovers – Joe Pritchard’s ambitious effort from 25 yards had seemed to be simple enough for Pontus Dahlberg to deal with, but the young keeper misjudged it, fumbling the ball onto the post an into the back of the net.
Pritchard had another go two minutes later, but Dahlberg made a fine save to deny him a second and the Swedish keeper was on hand again to deny Sean McConville from close range.
After a frantic opening ten minutes, the match began to calm down a little and Rovers sent a couple of dangerous balls into the box with John Bostock and Ben Close seeing crosses cleared.
Tiago Cukur bullied his way beyond centre-back Michael Nottingham and appeared to be dragged to the ground just inside the penalty box, the officials waved his appeals away which was the beginning of a frustrating night for the 18-year-old who found himself on the floor a lot under the challenge of the defenders.
As the half wore on, Rovers began to move the ball much quicker and started to break through the lines of the home side with Ben Close causing real problems for the opposition. He first linked up well with Gardner but David Morgan headed the No.8’s cross clear, while a neat touch by the former Portsmouth man took him away from his marker but his cutback narrowly evaded Cukur.
Accrington still offered a threat however. Dion Charles got the better of Tommy Rowe and Ro-Shaun Williams before the latter managed to get a touch on the shot deflecting it wide while Rovers failed to deal with an Accrington Stanley corner which pinged across the box three times before being headed wide by Colby Bishop.
Aidan Barlow tried his luck from 25 yards right on the stroke of half-time, but the effort was over the Farleys Solicitors Stand.
The second half started much like the first with the home side on the front foot and Rovers taking time to get into the game.
Bishop fired over from 20 yards with just two minutes played but the striker missed a golden opportunity when an under-hit back pass by John Bostock put the No.9 one-on-one with Dahlberg. The Watford loanee did really well to make the stop.
Wellens’ men absorbed early pressure from the home side riding their luck with Harvey Rodgers heading over twice from crosses prompting the manager into a change.
The introduction of Omar Bogle and Cameron John saw Rovers moved to a 3-5-2 and soon after they forged their first chance of the second periodBogle linked up with Cukur well winning a corner. The corner kick was worked short to Close whose cross to the back post was headed wide by Tom Anderson at the back post.
The change of formation meant the introduction of wingbacks which pushed Kyle Knoyle into much more attacking positions. He delivered a number of dangerous balls into the box – the best of these needed vital intervention from goalkeeper James Trafford to stop Cukur from tapping in from close range.
The closest Rovers came, however, was through Knoyle himself whose dipping effort from 20 yards with quarter of an hour remaining needed a save from Trafford to tip it over the bar.
Rovers pushed and pushed for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes, with the 463 away fans roaring them on, but ariel balls into the box were fruitless and they were unable to find the back of the net and fell to their third league defeat.