Battling Rovers fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town at the Eco-Power Stadium as Tyreeq Bakinson’s first half finish was enough to separate the two teams.
The visitors created a couple of early chances before Macauley Bonne’s header forced a fantastic save from Jonathan Mitchell but the follow up was tapped in by Bakinson.
Rovers created a few good chances but without really troubling visiting keeper Christian Walton.
Gary McSheffrey was able to name an unchanged team after victory at Sunderland on the weekend and there were no changes to the bench either with Ethan Galbraith still nursing an injury.
Ipswich have been on a good run of form under new manager Kieran McKenna and Macaulay Bonne probably should have at least tested Jonathan Mitchell in Rovers’ goal when he got an early header.
Bakinson was only able to shin the ball wide when a cut-back found him inside the Rovers’ box and Conor Chaplin barely troubled the Rovers’ shot-stopper with an effort from the edge of the box.
For Rovers, long balls into the channels were effective with both Reo Griffiths and Charlie Seaman getting in behind the visitors’ defence. It was Seaman who created the first chance of note when he burst beyond Dominic Thompson and cut the ball back to Mipo Odubeko. The West Ham loanee brought a save from Christian Walton.
Headers from Luke Woolfenden and Bonne went close before a perfectly timed run from deep by Chaplin saw him pick the ball up alone inside the Rovers’ box. His first touch was with his hand though and the free-kick was awarded to Rovers.
On the half-hour mark, a good counter-attacking move from Rovers got Josh Martin on the ball in a good area and his quick feet saw him win a free kick 22 yards out. It was well struck by the Norwich City loanee but cannoned off the wall.
Ipswich took the lead five minutes before half-time. A long ball into the Rovers box was headed on target by Bonne who forced a fantastic save from Mitchell, but Bakinson was following in at the back post to tap in for a simple finish.
Rovers created another half-chance before the break. Martin nicked the ball off the toes of an Ipswich midfielder and drove forward with purpose. He picked out Griffiths who showed good strength and determination to get into the box, but he was crowded out as he went to shoot.
There was a double change at the break for Rovers. Tommy Rowe - who had been down a few times in the opening 45 with injuries - was replaced by Dan Gardner while Ro-Shaun Williams made way for Kyle Knoyle.
Rovers created an early chance. Martin was instrumental once again as he worked the ball into Griffiths. The striker’s effort was blocked for a corner and Ben Jackson’s delivery very nearly crept in at the near post.
Odubeko was twice unlucky as he pinched the ball back high up the pitch but couldn’t quite pick out the final pass and Rovers strung together what was arguably the best passing move of the match as Jackson was released down the left. The young Huddersfield Town loanee got a bit too much power on the cross and it evaded everyone. Seaman – whose tireless running saw him turn nothing into something all evening – kept it alive and delivered another cross which was dealt with by the Tractor Boys.
Despite Rovers' better play, it was only an excellent save from Mitchell which denied Bonne a goal as he headed on target from close range on the hour mark.
The game became a bit more stretched with Rovers’ backline struggling to get out while the striking pair of Odebeko and Griffiths were becoming isolated.
Corners looked the most likely scoring chance for Rovers and they all seemed to fall on Jackson’s side. One delivery was headed wide by Odubeko while another was cleared to Knoyle who looked set to volley in before being dragged down. Rovers fans wanted a penalty but referee Ollie Yates had spotted a foul of goalkeeper Walton and gave the free-kick.
A lovely through ball by Aidan Barlow – who replaced Seaman – very nearly found Griffiths in the 87th minute but he was just beaten to it by the keeper and Barlow was involved again when he flicked Gardner’s delivery goalward but wasn’t able to get the power on it to trouble the keeper.
The final kick of the match was again a left-footed delivery from a corner by Jackson - which Mitchell went up for.
The keeper was only inches from connecting with the header before it dropped to Smith at the back post who shinned wide.