Rovers dismantle early table toppers Lincoln City after a thunderous strike from Ben Whiteman secures three points.
Darren Moore continued to rotate his side after Tuesday night’s defeat at Plymouth. Changes saw Brad Halliday and James Coppinger drop to the bench as Josh Sims and Danny Amos replaced the duo. A shake up of the back line meant Joe Wright stepped into the right back position with Cameron John slotting in to centre back.
Wright showed no fear in his new position as he was quick to charge down the right wing before winning a free kick in a lucrative position within the opening two minutes.
The first chance for Rovers came from Josh Sims who bent the ball just wide of Alex Palmer’s goal. Down the other end of the pitch came an instant reaction from the Imps with a low ball played into Joe Bursik’s box which was tapped goal wards by Tom Hopper and tipped around the post by the Rovers shot stopper.
Sims was in the thick of it after an excellent run into the box from Matt Smith. The winger misjudged the direction of his header as the ball floated across goal.
Jon Taylor made a stinging run from the halfway line into Lincoln’s box before pulling the ball back to Wright who took a heavy touch. Rovers kept on with their attacking intent from that phase of play which finished with Sims dragging wide of goal.
A stand-out performance came from Manchester City loanee Matt Smith who continually caused Lincoln’s defence problems. On one occasion he lifted the ball over the head of a defender, chested the ball down before volleying on goal. Not only that, but through out the game did well with recovering the ball.
Somehow Rovers did not take the lead from a corner which saw efforts on goal come from Fejiri Okenabirhie and Tom Anderson blocked. Rovers then resolutely withstood the counter from the visitors.
Just on the brink of half-time, Ben Whiteman gave Rovers the lead with a left footed volley which Palmer could do nothing about.
Rovers came out in the second half with their tails up with chances falling for Sims and Reece James, but unfortunately they were able to convert.
Whiteman unlocked Taylor down the right wing who got one-on-one with Palmer before shooting directly at the West Brom loanee to win a corner.
Palmer’s palms were left stinging after he stopped Obenabirhie’s left footed shot from doubling Rovers’ advantage.
Brennan Johnson came the close to equalising for the Imps after he thumped a low ball wide of Bursik’s net.
Michael Appleton brought on Theo Archibald and Anthony Scully to add more flare to Lincoln’s attack around the 67th minute. The pair were straight into the action as Archibald agonisingly missed an open goal from a corner. Much to Rovers’ relief.
As it entered the final 10 minutes of the game Lincoln increased the pressure, but Rovers responded well by remaining on high alert.
Next up for Rovers in Sky Bet League One is AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night. Moore’s side then return to the Keepmoat Stadium on November Tuesday 10 to face Wolverhampton Wanderers U21s in the Papa John’s Trophy.