Rovers end Brewers-hoodoo with first EFL win against Burton Albion in the club’s history to register a fourth consecutive league victory take themselves to within touching distance of league-leaders Portsmouth.
Fejiri Okenabirhie gave Rovers the lead inside eight minutes but that didn’t really tell the story of the opening exchanges which had generally seen the hosts have the best of the play. Lucas Akins converted from the penalty spot on the 44th minutes to draw the match level but four minutes later, Rovers were able to retake the lead with a penalty of their own. Ben Whiteman converting from 12-yards.
Taylor Richards settled the tie on the hour mark with an excellent solo goal. He won the ball back in his own half and drove through the centre of the park – the pitch opened up for him thanks to willing runners on either side, but he needed no help as he curled the ball into the top corner from 20 yards.
Darren Moore made four changes to the side that defeated Swindon Town on Tuesday night with starts for Fejiri Okenabirhie, Jon Taylor, Cameron John and Taylor Richards.
The home side had arguably started the better with Rovers asked to defend consecutive corners, but for all their possession the hosts didn’t register a shot on target and on the eighth minute Okenabirhie capitalised at the first time of asking.
Rovers strung a really nice set of passes together on the break with Richards’ ball out to John allowing the left-back to fire a vicious ball across the face of Kieran O’Hara’s goal. There were plenty of bodies in the box, but it was Okenbirhie with a poacher’s finish in the six-yard box which gave Moore’s side a rare early goal.
A long break in play to deal with an injury to Sam Hughes stopped Rovers building on a bit of better play. Hughes was unable to recover from what looked like an injury to his knee as he tumbled awkwardly off the ball and was replaced by John-Joe O’Toole.
Despite the disruption to their line-up, the Brewers were quickly back on the front foot but without troubling Joe Lumley between the sticks.
Rovers had some flashes of decent play on the break and with willing runners from the the midfield were flooding the box, but the final touch seemed to elude Moore’s men as the final pass seemed only ever seemed to be met by a yellow shirt.
Burton undoubtedly had the best chances of what remained of the half. Rovers had to see off threats from a succession of high looping deliveries which were bound to lead to a chance eventually. The opportunity fell to Niall Ennis who connected well with a half-volley and forced an excellent save by Lumley who saw it late and got down well.
A mad final few minutes of the first-half led to a penalty for both teams. Taylor Richards brought Joe Powell down with a clumsy challenge allowing Lucas Akins to dispatch confidently from the spot. At the other end, Michael Bostwick returned the favour by sliding through Okenabirhie to give Whiteman chance to retake the lead with the last kick of the half.
The match more or less picked up where it left off with the hosts having plenty of the ball.
Jon Taylor’s tenacity gave Rovers a half-chance ten minutes into the half. His tenacity won the ball back from right back Colin Daniel and he drove into the box. By the time he was able to get his cross away, he was surrounded by yellow shirts and it was easily thwarted.
The Brewers were gifted a chance when Anderson conceded a foul on the edge of the box but Powell was only able to find the side netting.
Rovers extended their lead on the hour mark with a superb solo effort by Richards. He won the ball back in his own half and drove through the midfield. He had runners either side of him but he didn’t need them and curled the chance into the top corner.
With a little daylight between themselves and the opposition, Rovers seemed to build in confidence with half-chances falling their way. The best of these came to Okenabirhie who fired over from the edge of the box.
There was plenty of effort - and no small amount of good football from Burton - but Rovers' defence stood firm and were able to see out the remainder of the match.