Rovers 1 Doncaster 0
Rovers maintained their unbeaten start to 2014 with a 1-0 win over Doncaster at Ewood Park.
It wasn't a vintage display from the blue and whites but Rudy Gestede's header at the end of the first half was enough to secure all three points for the home side.
In fairness Rovers should have had the game wrapped up in the first half. Tom Cairney twice fired wide when well placed, Jordan Rhodes nodded over, and Ben Marshall was denied by a superb Ross Turnbull save.
The all-important goal came on the stroke of half time, Gestede's dummy allowed Rhodes to get the better of Bongani Khumalo to cross to the back post to where Gestede rose to head home.
In contrast to the first Rovers struggled to get their attacking play going as Doncaster grew in confidence, but Grant Hanley and Scott Dann defended stoutly under increasing pressure.
Late drama gave Doncaster hope but two excellent saves from Paul Robinson in the final moments ensured all three points headed Rovers' way.
Just the one change was made from the side that held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup seven days earlier, as Jordan Rhodes returned to the starting eleven.
The 16-goal striker replaced Chris Taylor who picked up a minor toe injury in training and dropped to the bench.
David Dunn returned to the 18-man squad, as did Josh Morris, back from his loan spell with Carlisle United. Josh King missed out after a minor hamstring strain picked up in training.
It was a bright opening from the home side at a chilly Ewood Park. The first 15 minutes seeing three excellent chances.
On eight minutes a Tommy Spurr ball up to the edge of the box was laid off by Rudy Gestede to Tom Cairney but left-footed he dragged his effort wide of goal.
Then Ben Marshall then beat his man down the left to square to Tom Cairney ten yards out but the former Hull man fired over.
Moments later Marshall continued his excellent early form with a cross from the left but Jordan Rhodes headed over when leaving it for strike partner Rudy Gestede could have been the better option.
Rovers had a penalty shout waved away at the midway point of the half after Lee Williamson appeared to be pushed over in the box, but referee Jeremy Simpson was uninterested.
Half chances continued, but on 38 minutes Rovers were denied by a tremendous save by Ross Turnbull. Ben Marshall, cutting in from the left, let fly, but the Doncaster stopper flew to his right to save.
His counterpart at the other end, Paul Robinson, had little to do in comparison. He wasn't called upon to make a save until the 43rd minute, but a long range effort from James Husband didn't trouble the Rovers number one.
Just as the half appeared to be heading to it's goalless conclusion Rovers struck. A ball up to Rudy Gestede was cleverly dummied and that allowed his strike partner Jordan Rhodes who got the better of Bongani Khumalo to cross to the back post to where Gestede rose high above Abdoulaye Meite and head home his first Ewood goal.
Neither side made a change at the break as the second half was slower to get going than the first.
Sensing a chance to get back into the game Doncaster were more adventurous going forward, but for an important interception from Grant Hanley, James Coppinger would have been through from a cross-field pass.
A fine flick from Rudy Gestede sent Jordan Rhodes through on the hour mark but again Turnbull saved well, whilst at the other end Robinson had to tip over a Coppinger cross from the right.
The Rovers back four continued to be work, Hanley again called upon to block well from substitute Mark Duffy.
Rovers looked to be seeing the game out comfortably but there's always time for late drama at Ewood Park.
The underworked Paul Robinson more than repaying the manager's faith with two vital saves in added time. First pushing Alex Peterson's back post header over the bar, before denying Donny captain Richie Wellens as a cleared corner fell to the midfielder.
For long a spectator, the Rovers number ensured it was the home side who would claim all three points on his first league start in 13th months.
The win sees Rovers move up to eighth in the table, still two points off the play-off places.
ROVERS: Robinson, Henley, Dann (c), Hanley, Spurr, Cairney (sub Taylor 78 mins), Lowe, Williamson, Marshall, Rhodes (sub Campbell 84 mins), Gestede (sub Dunn 72 mins).
Subs not used: Eastwood (GK), Kilgallon, Rochina, Morris.
Goals: Gestede 45 mins.
Booked: Lowe, Henley.
DONCASTER: Turnbull, Husband (sub Peterson 67 mins), Brown, McCullough (sub Cotterill 79 mins), Khumalo, Wellens, Meite, De Val Fernandez, Forrester (sub Duffy 68 mins), Coppinger, Stevens.
Subs not used: Maxted (GK), Furman, Wakefield, Bennett.
Booked: Wellens, Husband, Meite, Khumalo.
Attendance:13954 (including 829 visiting supporters).