A converted Conor Grant penalty in injury time meant Rovers left Plymouth Argyle with nothing despite taking the lead through Jordy Hiwula ten minutes into the second half.
Luke Jephcott drew the home side level 15 minutes later – also from the spot.
Rovers had plenty of chances with two of the best also falling to Jordy Hiwula, while Aidan Barlow and Rodrigo Vilca also both went close after being introduced late on.
Richie Wellens made one change to the side that beat Morecambe a week earlier with Tiago Cukur – who put in a good performance in midweek in the Papa John’s Trophy – getting the nod ahead of Rodrido Vilca. Joe Dodoo took up a place on the wing.
Cukur led the line with real tenacity. He chased down Michael Cooper in the first minute forcing the Plymouth keeper into a miscued clearance which eventually led to Rovers winning a corner.
Tom Anderson connected with Ben Close’s delivery but headed off target. Rovers earned another corner a few minutes later – this time through good work by Dodoo. Cukur was unable to head the delivery goalward.
With ten minutes on the clock, the game – perhaps unsurprisingly for Ryan Lowe’s Plymouth Argyle - became wide open.
Jordan Houghton’s effort from 20 yards rolled kindly through to Pontus Dahlberg, while Rovers countered when Cukur’s effort was blocked by Dan Scarr. Tom Anderson made a good block to deny Luke Jephcott before Dahlberg made a stop to deny Conor Grant.
For Rovers, Dodoo’s header was saved by Cooper before Galbraith’s stinging volley was blocked by a man in green.
Easily the best chance of the first half for either team fell to the talismanic Jephcott on the half-hour mark. The bobbling ball got the better of Anderson putting the Welshman one-on-one, but Dahlberg came off his line quickly and was wise to the striker’s attempted dink the ball over him. The Swedish international plucked the ball out of the air.
At the other end, Rovers had a couple of half-chances with Dodoo shooting narrowly wide of the far post and Rowe’s vicious volley struck from 25 yards was bravely blocked by Joe Edwards. Kyle Knoyle went close from distance
The home side certainly finished the half the stronger. Grant’s curling effort was saved by Dahlberg while Ro-Shaun Williams did brilliantly to deny Ryan Hardie, and Dan Scarr headed wide from a corner.
The last action of the half was a cynical challenge by Brendan Galloway to prevent Dahlberg launching Rovers into a counterattack. He earned himself a yellow following Matt Smith who had been booked earlier in the half for persistent fouling.
The second half began the same way the first half ended and within 90 seconds of kick-off Ryan Broom had given up a golden opportunity when he climbed highest and headed over from corner-kick. Panutche Camara saw his effort blocked while a cross flashed all the way across the front of Dahlberg’s goal with no one in green to touch it in.
Rovers then spurned their own golden chance. Dodoo held the ball up and laid it off to Cukur who worked the ball out to Jordy Hiwula. The winger was completely unmarked but could only curl it wide.
Rovers No.17 made no mistakes minutes later when he was presented with a similar opportunity. This time a wonderful, floated ball from Ethan Galbraith found him unmarked. A somewhat heavy touch turned fortunate for the forward as Cooper shot off his line and Hiwula was able to toe it beyond him.
James Wilson got the final touch on the Argyle goal line but he could only kick it into the roof of the net.
Hiwula and Rovers could have got a second just 10 minutes later. Cukur did well to win the ball and hold it up – he drew the defenders and was able to slide the ball to the No.17 who was once again unchallenged as he bore down on goal. It was a deft touch to chip the keeper but this time Wilson’s clearance off the line was successful and he headed for a Rovers corner which came to nothing.
A clumsy challenge by Knoyle in his own box gifted Plymouth a way back into the game from 12-yards.
Dahlberg was desperately unlucky not to have another penalty save against his name. The Sweden international got a big hand to Jephcott’s spot-kick but could only push it onto the post. Rovers had an agonising wait as the ball seemed to take an age spinning along the line before crawling over to draw the game level with around 20 minutes to go.
Plymouth kept the pressure and looked the most likely but Rovers kept creating changes. It took some good defending by the home side to pinch the ball off Hiwula’s toes as he pulled back to shoot – substitute Aidan Barlow picking him out with a cross and Barlow was inches from heading in from close range when Rowe whipped a fantastic ball across the face of goal while an equally good ball by Knoyle was very nearly turned in by Wilson for an own goal.
For all their good play – it would be a second penalty which condemned them to defeat in Devon. A coming together in the box led referee Trevor Kettle to point at the spot. Grant converted from 12 yards to ensure Rovers would leave with nothing.