Rovers booked their place in the last 16 of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy for the first time in nine years with a 3-0 triumph over Nottingham Forest U21.
Luke Molyneux’s stunning strike saw Rovers end the half ahead after a difficult time against an energetic and well-organised young opposition.
Much improved on the ball in the second half, Rovers extended the advantage when Kyle Hurst slotted home from a fine team move before substitute Joe Ironside made sure of the win late on.
Grant McCann made seven changes from the side that started the FA Cup tie at Peterborough United. Ian Lawlor, Tommy Rowe, Harrison Biggins, Kyle Hurst and Tyler Roberts all came into the side alongside youngsters Jack Goodman and Will Flint.
Jamie Sterry made his return to a matchday squad for the first time since the opening day of the season as he was named on the bench following injury and handed the final 15 minutes of game time.
Rovers struggled to find a route through the organised opposition over the first quarter of the game, with Forest adept at quickly getting players back behind the ball as well as pressing with great energy and intensity across the pitch.
The visitors posed the greater threat in the early stages, with the pace of winger Ateef Konate causing issues down the left. It was the French youngster who produced the game’s first effort when smashing a shot over the bar from the edge of the box 12 minutes in.
And Konate was millimetres away from giving Forest the lead midway through the half. After collecting a long diagonal in the box, he poked a shot beyond Lawlor only to watch it roll along the line and wide.
Chances were at a premium for both sides and Rovers got their first real sight of goal as the half hour mark approached. Molyneux found space on the right and drilled the ball across the box, with three team mates coming close to connecting in front of goal.
Brandon Aguilera fired wide from the edge of the box as Forest continued to have the better of the attacking play.
But Rovers’ frustrations in the final third were ended on 43 minutes with the opening goal. Molyneux cut inside from the right and smashed a superb effort into the far top corner to break the deadlock.
Aguilera grazed the outside of the post with a low drive early in the second half while Rowe saw a dipping effort deflected wide at the other end.
Rovers enjoyed much greater control of possession after the break and delivered more presence in the final third following the introductions of Mo Faal and Ironside just after the hour.
And the pair combined to help set up the second goal on 74 minutes. Faal poked the ball into space on the right for Ironside, who sent a low ball into the box with Biggins dummying before Hurst swept home at the back post.
Hurst was close to doubling his own tally moments later. Cutting in from the left to the corner of the box, he fired a shot that flew narrowly over the bar.
Five minutes from time, the icing was added to the cake. Ben Close curled a corner into the six yard box with Ironside glancing the ball home for his 12th goal of the season.
Rovers: Lawlor, Flint, Bailey, Olowu, Molyneux (Sterry 77), Broadbent, Biggins (Nixon 83), Rowe (Close 66), Hurst, Roberts (Faal 66), Goodman (Ironside 66). Subs not used: Jones, Anderson.