Rovers 1-2 Charlton Athletic
Michael Appleton didn't get the start he would have wished for as a tough Charlton Athletic side ran out 2-1 winners at Ewood Park.
The first half saw little in the way of attacking play aside from Dale Stephen's superb strike on the 26th minute as the Addicks lead at the break.
The home side regrouped at the break and came out in the second half carrying more of a threat going forward, Colin Kazim-Richards crossing for Jordan Rhodes to head his 15th goal for Rovers as they drew level almost immediately.
But Rovers couldn't turn the game to their advantage and it was the visitors who grabbed the all-important second goal, Yann Kermorgant rising highest to nod Charlton back in front.
Rovers huffed and puffed but struggled to find a way back into the game and aside from a late spell of pressure in added time Charlton held strong to claim all three points.
For his first game in charge Michael Appleton kept faith with the same 18-man squad that caretaker boss Gary Bowyer fielded last time out in the draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, and in freezing conditions at Ewood Park it was the home side who started the brighter in the opening exchanges.
The man at the heart of everything early on was forward Ruben Rochina. On seven minutes the Spaniard collected a forward ball from Colin Kazim-Richards to attack the area only to be crowded out by the visiting defence.
Then on nine minutes, after turning Dale Stephens, Rochina burst forward to let fly from distance but his 20yd strike was off target.
It was a low-key game with both sides seeing plenty of the ball but opportunities were kept to a minimum with the best chance of the opening half for Rovers coming just past the midway point.
It was from a set-piece as Ruben Rochina delivered a corner from the right but as Colin Kazim-Richards rose high in the area he could only nod the ball into the arms of Addicks' 'keeper Ben Hamer.
Rovers would regret that missed chance as the visitors scored with the very next attack in the 26th minute.
A run down the right saw the ball played into the area, but as it was half-cleared by Martin Olsson the ball sat up perfectly for Charlton midfielder Dale Stephens and he slammed a tremendous 20 yard volley into the top corner of Jake Kean's goal.
Two minutes later and it was almost two. Again the ball fell invitingly to Stephens but this time he chose to switch play to Johnnie Jackson to his left, the Addicks' captain saw his shot saved before Rovers needed Martin Olsson to react quickly to prevent both Yann Kermorgant and Laurie Wilson on the follow-up.
After that brief flurry of goalmouth action play settled back into the pattern displayed before hand with both sides seeing plenty of the ball but without ever carrying a threat, the visitors more than happy to hold onto their lead.
Whilst Michael Appleton sent out the same eleven from the first half, he did make a tactical change at the start of the second with Colin Kazim-Richards moving alongside Jordan Rhodes up front.
Almost immediately it had the desired effect as seconds after the restart a Kazim-Richards cross from the right was put wide at the near post by Rhodes.
He may have missed that chance but he rarely misses a second, and on 48 minutes Rhodes was in the right place once more to stoop to meet a Kazim-Richards centre, this time the striker glanced it into the bottom corner of the net.
However the visitors should have regained the lead almost immediately. A ball into the box saw Jake Kean and Jason Lowe race out to block a Bradley Pritchard shot, the ball reaching Dale Stephens who this time failed to find the target, the midfielder blazing wide with the goal at his mercy.
Rovers responded with a chance of their own, Danny Murphy feeding Colin Kazim-Richards but his steered effort was tipped round the post by Ben Hamer.
The home side's achilles heel has always been their inability to stop balls getting into the box and it would prove to be costly once more on 64 minutes with a goal against the run of play.
Johnnie Jackson spread the ball out wide to the right but Bradley Pritchard got the better of Simon Vukcevic before delivering into the box, Yann Kermorgant rose well in the area and planted a header into the bottom corner of the net past a helpless Jake Kean to delight the travelling support.
Two minutes later Rovers should have levelled once more when Kazim-Richards escaped his marker at the back post to get to a cross from Martin Olsson but the Turkish international put his headed wide of goal.
Rovers looked for a way back into the game with Morten Gamst Pedersen and Nuno Gomes brought on to add more attacking impetus but aside from a late flurry of chances in added time the home side struggled to break down a tough Charlton side.
It wasn't the start Michael Appleton would have wanted, he'll be hoping his side can make amends on Tuesday night when Brighton & Hove Albion are the visitors.
ROVERS: Kean, Kane, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson, Vukcevic (sub Pedersen 70 mins), Lowe, Murphy (c), Rochina (sub Nuno Gomes 78 mins), Kazim-Richards, Rhodes.
Subs not used: Usai (GK), Givet, Morris, Goodwillie, Rosado.
Goals: Rhodes 48 mins.
CHARLTON: Hamer, Evina, Jackson (c), Morrison, Taylor, Stephens, Wagstaff (sub Dervite 79 mins), Pritchard, Kermorgant, Solly, Wilson (sub Harriott 90 mins).
Subs not used: Button (GK), Green, Wright-Phillips, Wiggins, Fuller.
Goals: Stephens 26 mins, Kermorgant 64 mins.