Goals from Elliot Lee and Conor Washington in the first half, followed by second half finishes by Jayden Stockley and Ben Purrington and saw Rovers suffer a 4-0 defeat to Charlton Athletic at The Valley.
Lee started brightly and could have put the Addick’s up in the ninth minute but for Tom Anderson’s goal line clearance. It was a free kick which broke the deadlock, Lee’s delivery evaded everyone, wrongfooted Pontus Dahlberg and nestled just inside the far post.
Conor Washington made it 2-0 from the spot on the half-hour mark and it took some bodies-on-the-line defending to deny Charlton a third right on half-time.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first and Stockley passed up a few big chances before tapping in from close range after Lee’s effort from a free kick was parried. Ben Purrington made it four with twenty minutes remaining when he headed in from substitute Diallang Jaiyesimi’s cross.
Richie Wellens made one change to the side that drew with Cambridge United in midweek. Dan Gardner – who was forced off with an injury in that game – was out while Tommy Rowe – who was labelled 50/50 in the week – was fit enough for a place on the bench.
Rovers lined up how they finished against the U’s with Ethan Galbraith in his more usual midfield role while Kyle Knoyle, Ro-Shaun Williams, Tom Anderson and Joseph Olowu made up the back four.
The home side – buoyed by the recent introduction of interim manager Johnnie Jackson and on the back of an impressive win at Sunderland – started brightly with Lee having an immediate impact down Rovers’ right-hand side. His early delivery was snuffed out by Anderson while a free kick swung in was into the palms of Pontus Dahlberg.
Lee could have scored from a chest and volley on the ninth minute but – while he got the better of Dahlberg – Anderson was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line.
Lee did find the back of the net just after the 20-minute mark. His free-kick delivery evaded both sets of players and nestled just inside the far post.
Rovers strung a better move together with Rodrigo Vilca finding the overlapping run of Knoyle. The right-back played a good one-two with Joe Dodoo but his shot was blocked at the edge of the box by Chris Gunter. The ball fell to John Bostock who had a go from 25 yards, but the effort was charged down by another red shirt.
Both sides exchanged wayward efforts from distance with a 35-yard Gilbey effort bouncing harmlessly for a goal kick and Vilca curling over after picking up a loose ball at the edge of the box.
The home side doubled their lead from the spot just after the 30-minute mark. Gilbey forced his way beyond Anderson and went to ground. Referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot. Washington sent Dalhberg the wrong way and converted calmly from 12-yards.
It could have been worse for Rovers when a cross found Purrington at the back post, but Rovers threw bodies in the way creating a scramble which eventually came to an end for a foul on Dahlberg.
As the first half ticked into two minutes of added time, frustrations spilled over on the bench following a decision by the assistant referee which resulted in a booking for manager Wellens.
The hosts moved the ball around better in the second half than they had in the first and there were just eight minutes played before Jayden Stockley was given his first sight of goal.
A mis-trap by Bostock allowed the ball to spin aimlessly into the Rovers six-yard box but a combination of Williams and Dahlberg kept the Addick’s No.9 out. The striker was afforded another opportunity minutes later when Jaiyesimi’s cross picked him out unmarked in the box, but Stockley’s header was straight at Dahlberg.
The striker was never going to pass up another opportunity to get on the scoresheet and the third chance gifted to him was probably the easiest of the afternoon. Another Lee delivery from a free kick caused chaos for the Rovers defence with Dahlberg only able to parry into the feet of Stockley who just had to tap in from a yard out to make it 3-0.
Rovers fashioned their first chance of the second half when a smart cutback from Galbraith picked out Dodoo on the edge of the box. The striker took a touch and fired towards the goal – he was charged down by Jason Pearce in the box: the Rovers fans felt the defender had used his hand, but the officials didn’t agree.
At the other end, the Stockley miscued another chance from six yards as the hosts continued to attack in waves.
Ben Purrington made it 4-0 with twenty minutes to go. He met Jaiyesimi’s cross with a header back across goal which went in off the post.
Substitutes Branden Horton and Tiago Cukur combined for the latter to ping a cross looking for the run of Rowe. The midfielder did get a touch, but it was only enough to toe the ball into the arms of Craig MacGillivray and the keeper was on hand moments later when Galbraith’s cross narrowly evaded both Cukur and Rowe as they made runs into the near post.
It could have been worse for Rovers though as Dahlberg pulled off two really smart saves to deny first Gilbey down to his right and then Stockley from point-blank range while a more routine save in injury time from a Stockley header concluded the action.
Rovers return to action on Tuesday evening when they head to Gresty Road to take on Crewe Alexandra still looking for their first points on the road.