Ellis Harrison’s 48th minute goal was the difference as Fleetwood defeated Rovers.
Gary McSheffrey made two changes to the side that started at Morecambe on January 2. One of those changes was between the sticks as Louis Jones was left out as a precaution for an injury so Watford loanee Pontus Dahlberg took the number one spot.
Also returning to the squad was Ro-Shaun Williams following his spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury. He partnered Joseph Olowu. Omar Bogle passed a fitness test, despite coming off against Morecambe injured.
During most of the opening 45 minutes, Fleetwood boasted most of the possession, but Rovers dealt with them well defensively – limiting them to only two real chances on target. Williams put in a solid shift upon his return and forwards Aidan Barlow and Jordy Hiwula did well at getting back to execute their defensive duties.
The first chance of the game came Fleetwood’s way on the 18th minute with a low, close-range effort from Cian Hayes that forced Dahlberg into a comfortable save. The visitors did win a corner from that chance but failed to cause any threat from the dead ball situation.
Minutes later, Fleetwood had a free-kick in prime Danny Andrew territory and it was the left back who took the kick. He curled the ball goal wars but it was stopped by the stretching Dahlberg.
While completing his defensive duties, Barlow picked up a yellow card close to the end of the second half for preventing a threatening counter-attack.
The half offered little inspiration for either side with only two chances on goal throughout the opening 45 minutes. But, all was still to play for at the break.
Fleetwood took the lead three minutes into the second half as debutant Ellis Harrison squeezed a chance past Dahlberg.
Rovers put immediate pressure on Fleetwood as Kyle Knoyle barged his way into the box and won a corner kick for McSheffrey’s side. From that corner, Rovers had their best chance of the game to that point with Branden Horton’s corner finding the head of Tommy Rowe who could not get the right direction on the header.
In an ambitious attempt on goal, Ethan Galbraith spotted the run of Bogle to Alex Cairns' far post. The Manchester United loanee lifted the ball over towards him but the ball just escaped the forward and went out for a goal kick.
Both sides made their first substitutions on the 63rd minute with McSheffrey swapping Joe Dodoo for Barlow while Anthony Pilkington replaced goal scorer Harrison for the visitors.
Horton tried his luck on goal from 25-yards on the half-volley after being teed up by Bogle, but the 21-year-old did not test Cairns.
On the 72nd minute, Rovers made their second change with Charlie Seaman returning for the first time since early October 2021 after injury. He came on in the place of Hiwula.
For the final 10 minutes as Rovers tried to push for an equaliser there were plenty of stoppages to play as Fleetwood players kept requiring treatment.
The biggest chance for Rovers came from Seaman who forced a great save out of Cairns in the dying minutes of the game.
It just was not the day for Rovers who failed to come back after falling behind early in the second period. Rovers will next welcome Wigan Athletic to the Eco-Power Stadium on January Saturday 15.