Brighton 3 Rovers 0
Clinical finishing and goalkeeping heroics told the story at the Amex Stadium as Rovers went down 3-0 on Saturday.
The visitors created chance after chance against Brighton & Hove Albion but were thwarted by an inspired goalkeeping display from Tomasz Kuszczak, whilst at the other end the home side converted almost all of their opportunities.
Not for the first time this season Rovers found themselves a goal behind from a soft goal.
Dickson Etuhu, back in action for the first time since last December, was barely on the pitch for five minutes when he gave away a clumsy 35th minute penalty which Ashley Barnes despatched from 12 yards.
Up until that point there had been little in the game, Jason Lowe saw a goalbound shot deflected wide, whilst Craig Conway stung the gloves of Jake Jean.
Rovers had two opportunities to level before half-time, Jordan Rhodes nodded Matt Kilgallon's cross just wide at the back post, before Tomasz Kuszczak tipped over a Tommy Spurr header.
The second half started with Rovers again on the attack but they just couldn't find a way past the Brighton stopper as he denied Josh King three times and Tom Cairney in quick succession.
Rovers were then hit with a sucker-punch of a second goal from the Seagulls as Jake Forster-Caskey arrived perfectly to head home Conway's cross on 56 minutes.
Bowyer's side responded in the right manner but they couldn't beat Kuszczak. The Polish international saving further efforts from King and Cairney.
When he was beaten the crossbar came to his rescue as Spurr thumped a header against the woodwork
But just like the second goal, Brighton scored when Rovers were the team to look the more likely to do so. Ashley Barnes adding his second of the game after Kean had denied Crofts.
Further chances came Rovers' way but when Kuszczak denied David Dunn with a fingertip save you knew it wasn't going to be the Lancashire club's day.
Gary Bowyer kept faith with the same starting eleven for the third consecutive match for the trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Rovers welcomed Grant Hanley back from suspension, along with David Dunn and Dickson Etuhu from injury, as all three made the substitute's bench.
Ex-Rover Keith Andrews missed out on a match against his former club with a calf injury.
The game was slow to get going at the Amex Stadium, Rovers with the first chance of the game after 12 minutes as Alan Judge miscued a shot after good work from Tom Cairney and Josh King.
Cairney and King combined again seven minutes later as Jason Lowe was teed up to shoot but his goalbound effort came off Gordon Greer and flew inches wide.
The home side responded on the break, Craig Conway with a swerving shot on the angle that Jake Kean had to beat away.
On the half hour Rovers were forced into making an early change as Lee Williamson limped off. Dickson Etuhu was his replacement for his first appearance for the seniors since last December, although within minutes he'd have an undesired impact as he clumsily ran into Conway in the area to give away a soft penalty.
Striker Ashley Barnes stepped up and opened his account for the season with a shot into the corner of the goals as Jake Kean dived the other way.
Rovers responded in the right manner but couldn't get a deserved equaliser, from a Matt Kilgallon break the defender crossed for Jordan Rhodes but he nodded wide at the back post, before the last act of the first half saw a Cairney free-kick find the head of Tommy Spurr but Tomasz Kuszczak tipped the ball over the bar.
There were no changes as the second half got underway with a bursting run from Josh King. The Norwegian international getting the better of defender Bruno to cut inside and let fly but Kuszczak was equal to his efforts, diving to his right to save low down.
Jake Forster-Caskey was then just wide with a 25-yard free-kick, namesake Kean scrambling across his area to watch the ball go the other side of the post.
On 52 minutes King escaped the clutches of the Brighton defence once more but again Kuszczak saved well. A minute later the Brighton goalkeeper was called upon to make third save in as many minutes as King found Tom Cairney. The former Manchester United 'keeper pushing Cairney's effort aside.
But for all their pressure it was Brighton who grabbed the all-important second goal on 56 minutes. Craig Conway found too much space on the left and his centre was met perfectly by the fast arriving Forster-Caskey and he headed firmly into the back of the net.
It was Brighton's first goal against Rovers from open play in their last three meetings.
Despite being two-goals down Rovers continued to look for a way back into the game. Matthew Upson almost sliced Todd Kane's centre into his own net before Josh King struck goalwards once more but Kuszczak again saved well.
David Dunn made his return to action on 63 minutes, replacing Alan Judge. Almost immediately he looked to have been caught in the area under the challenge from a fellow sub Liam Bridcutt, but referee Andy D'Urso was unmoved.
Rovers continued with their patient build-up, seeing plenty of the ball and they really should have reduced the scoreline on 69 minutes when following a David Dunn shot that deflected for a corner, Tommy Spurr headed the kick against the crossbar.
Polish international Kuszczak continued to thwart Rovers, flying to his right to deny Tom Cairney for yet another save.
But just as Rovers looked the more likely when Brighton added a second, the same happened once more as the home side added a third.
Kean saved well to deny Forster-Caskey but from the resulting corner Crofts saw a shot saved by Barnes was there to gleefully snap up the rebound.
Again Rovers came back but again they were denied, David Dunn the latest player to be thwarted by the antics of Kuszczak who made a fingertip save.
The last chance of the game again fell to Rovers, but from Cairney's delivery Etuhu nodded wide at the back post.
Rovers had created enough chances to win a hatful of matches, their opponents grateful for the inspired performance from Kuszczak.
BRIGHTON: Kuszczak, Saltor, Greer (c), Ward, Upson, Forster-Caskey (sub El-Abd 89 mins), Crofts, Ince, David Lopez (sub Bridcutt 63 mins), Conway, Barnes (sub Lita 78 mins).
Subs not used: Ankergren (GK), Agustien, Calderon, March
Goals: Barnes (pen) 35, 78 mins, Forster-Caskey 56 mins.
Booked: David Lopez, Forster-Caskey.
ROVERS: Kean, Kane, Dann (c), Kilgallon, Spurr (sub Morris 86 mins), Cairney, Lowe, Williamson (sub Etuhu 30 mins), Judge (sub Dunn 63 mins), King, Rhodes.
Subs not used: Eastwood, Hanley, Marshall, Taylor.
Booked: Etuhu, Dann.
Attendance: 27,912 (871 Rovers fans)