Derby County 1 Rovers 1
Leon Best picked the perfect time to score his first goal in a Rovers shirt as he rescued a point at Pride Park.
The striker, who missed the majority of last season with a cruciate knee injury, struck a superb 89th minute volley as a pulsating opening day match ended 1-1.
It was a goal that Rovers, and Best, richly deserved as he struck the woodwork twice in a second half that the visitors had dominated.
Rovers also had the better of the first but it was they who trailed at the break after Alex Marrow had handled in the area and Johnny Russell converted from the spot in the 42nd minute.
The departure of Ruben Rochina with a suspected dislocated shoulder put a dampener on proceedings after the Spaniard had looked lively in the opening 30 minutes, however it was his replacement Leon Best who would have the final say.
Ahead of the game Gary Bowyer gave starts to four of his summer signings as Todd Kane, Tommy Spurr, Alex Marrow and Alan Judge were all named in the eleven.
Behind goalkeeper Jake Kean, Kane and Spurr occupied the full back slots alongside the regular central defensive pairing of Scott Dann and Grant Hanley, whilst former Academy duo Alex Marrow and Alan Judge were part of a four-man midfield with Jason Lowe and Josh King. Ruben Rochina and Jordan Rhodes up top.
The bench saw Simon Eastwood, Chris Taylor and Tom Cairney named for the first time.
Rovers were bright from the start, just four minutes in and a storming run from Grant Hanley down the left saw Tommy Spurr centre, the ball coming out to Ruben Rochina but he fired wide.
Three minutes later and the Spaniard was on the attack once more from Jason Lowe's timely tackle but he shot over from distance.
Alan Judge was also impressing on his return to the Rovers ranks, the diminutive Irishman collecting Rochina's pass to race into the area but his right-footed shot across goal curled inches wide of the far post.
The home side only had a couple of corners to show for themselves, but a ball over the top from Will Hughes found Jamie Ward in space in the area, however from a tightening angle he planted his effort past Jake Kean's near post.
Rovers went straight up the other end to earn themselves a series of corners, Jordan Rhodes saw a glanced header cleared off the line before Josh King headed wide as Rovers continued to pose the greater threat.
However one of their main supply lines was cut off on 35 minutes when Rochina went down holding his shoulder after an accidental collision. Leon Best on to replace as Rochina was stretchered off with a shoulder injury.
Just as it looked like the half would end goalless, a disputed Jamie Ward free-kick into the area caught the flailing arm of Alex Marrow, referee Stuart Attwell had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Johnny Russell took on the responsibility of the penalty kick and made no mistake from 12 yards, drilling the ball into the bottom corner with Kean diving the wrong way.
The home side could have added to their lead in the six additional minutes only for Jake Kean to save well to deny Chris Martin.
Straight from the restart Rovers were within a whisker of getting back on level terms, a ball into the area eventually found it's way to Josh King who's shot was scuffed into the ground looped up, Leon Best nodded goalwards only to be denied by Lee Grant who pushed the ball onto the top of the post.
However Todd Kane almost handed the hosts a second when he ran into trouble on the edge of his own area, Russell stealing in but firing wide.
Right on the hour mark Rovers struck the woodwork once more. Grant Hanley's storming run down the left allowed Alan Judge to play Tommy Spurr into space and he charged into the area before spreading the ball across the box to where Leon Best stuck out a boot but the ball bounced off the foot of the post.
Derby responded as Will Hughes skipped past a series of challenges only for Rams captain Richard Keogh to see his shot from the edge of the area tipped over the bar by Jake Kean.
From the resulting Jamie Ward corner Rovers escaped as Kean came but couldn't collect the ball and as it was hooked goalwards by Chris Martin an offside Keogh forced it over the line. The flagged raised on the far side.
The breathless nature of the game continued as Leon Best turned his man brilliantly to shoot goalwards but Grant was down early to smother the effort. Then Grant Hanley headed straight into the arms of the Derby 'keeper from a free-kick.
With fifteen minutes to go an inswinging free-kick from Alan Judge needed heading off his own line by Craig Forsyth as Rovers continued to press and probe for an equaliser. Jason Lowe shooting well from the edge of the box but Grant saved low to his post. Then Alan Judge fired over when perhaps the option of centring for Rhodes or Chris Taylor might have been a better option.
Rovers then had penalty claims waved away as Jordan Rhodes went down under a challenge from behind but referee Stuart Attwell was unmoved. It was one way traffic.
In the 89th minute Rovers finally got the goal that their play deserved. Following a Todd Kane ball into the area it came out to Chris Taylor who whipped it in and Leon Best with his back to goal turned and volleyed the ball home.
For the former Newcastle man it was great relief following his knee injury last season, Best ran over to the dugout to give physio Dave Fevre a big hug in celebration.
Best almost grabbed a second deep into added time, but he lashed over following a mazy run, then there was still time for more penalty appeals as Rhodes appeared to be upended, but the game ended a very creditable draw.
RAMS: Grant, Forsyth, Bryson, Keogh (c), Hendrick, Martin (sub Sammon 84 mins), Ward, Russell (sub Coutts 62 mins), Freeman, Hughes (sub Eustace 81 mins), Buxton.
Subs not used: Legzdins (GK), Smith, Jacobs, Davies.
Goals: Russell (pen) 43 mins.
ROVERS: Kean, Kane, Dann (c), Hanley, Spurr, King (sub Taylor 64 mins), Lowe, Marrow (sub Cairney 77 mins), Judge, Rochina (sub Best 39 mins), Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Dunn, Olsson, Givet.
Goals: Best 89 mins.
Booked: Best, Kane.